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Nelson fire, aerial view over Eves Valley, Pidgeon Valley and Redwood Valley. (Rebekah Parsons-King, Radio NZ)
Nelson fire, aerial view over Eves Valley, Pidgeon Valley and Redwood Valley. (Rebekah Parsons-King, Radio NZ)

The BulletinFebruary 7, 2019

The Bulletin: Fire rages in tinder-dry Tasman

Nelson fire, aerial view over Eves Valley, Pidgeon Valley and Redwood Valley. (Rebekah Parsons-King, Radio NZ)
Nelson fire, aerial view over Eves Valley, Pidgeon Valley and Redwood Valley. (Rebekah Parsons-King, Radio NZ)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Fire rages in tinder-dry Tasman region, contention over call for compulsory colonial history teaching, and another big jump for dairy prices.

Hundreds of people haven’t been able to return to their homes overnight, as fires rage in the Tasman District. A Civil Defence emergency was declared yesterday morning, and fires continue to burn today. Emergency services have worked through the night, and extra firefighters and police have been called in, along with military and DOC personnel, and the public are being asked to stay clear of areas that could be dangerous. At last count, 235 homes were evacuated, one house had been destroyed, and around a dozen animals had to be euthanised. Gale force winds are possible later in the day, which could further whip up flames.

The battle to save homes resumes today, and Stuff and the NZ Herald are two of the media outlets that will be doing live updates. 1900 hectares have been burnt so far, at two sites near Nelson. The fire is believed to have been started accidentally by a farmer ploughing a field. For those in the area, the best place to get updates is the Nelson Tasman Civil Defence Facebook page, and a public meeting for evacuees will be held this morning.

The fires have been significantly exacerbated by the extreme dry conditions around Tasman before they broke out. You might recall the area was one of the hardest hit during the recent heatwave, but even before that, the region was effectively in a state of drought. Radio NZ reports that a lack of water is making it much more difficult for firefighters to tackle the blazes, and the dry conditions contributed to the spread.

We know exactly where these sort of conditions can lead, if we look across the ditch to Tasmania. In the Australian region most similar to New Zealand in terms of climate and rainfall, fires have been raging continuously since before Christmas. 5 days ago the ABC put out some satellite photos which showed the scale of the land that had been devastated.

A call for compulsory teaching of New Zealand history has been picked up by National leader Simon Bridges, reports Radio NZ. It follows a petition from the History Teacher’s Association. There’s pretty wide agreement that more history should be taught, but just what is stressed in that teaching is a point of contention, reports Māori TV. The NZ Herald editorial this morning addresses that, saying it is precisely because history is contested that it should be taught – “rather, it is more reason to give every New Zealand child a grounding of factual knowledge that will enable them to discuss it.”

There’s been a big rise in dairy prices at the latest global auction overnight. The index has jumped a whopping 6.7%, the largest of five successive rises. Whole milk powder is up 8.4%, which is a very handy boost for the dairy industry in New Zealand.

Two important housing news updates to share, which take a wide view of the current situation. The first, from Interest, reports on the progress of mass-produced housing. Minister Phil Twyford says plans are still on track, which down the line could help actual house building progress catch up, after falling badly behind schedule.

The other looks at the state house waiting list, which is now at record levels, reported on by Radio NZ. Mr Twyford says this has ballooned since Labour took office because under the previous government people saw asking for housing help as pointless, whereas now the government is actively encourage people who need help to come forward.

A property management company has attempted to rent out a Wellington house deemed “uninhabitable”, reports Newshub. The term was used by a property manager about the Mt Cook house, which had holes in the ceiling, no insulation, and black mould. But a week later, Quinovic had it listed to rent – available immediately for $630 per week. The listing has subsequently been taken down, after questions from Newshub.

Here’s a pretty fair rebuttal from National-aligned blogger David Farrar about a story that was included in Tuesday’s Bulletin. In that story, NZ First MP Tracey Martin accused an unnamed National MP of running a troll farm, by directing groups of supporters to attack then-Labour leader Andrew Little. Mr Farrar pointed out that all politicians have supporters who they try and get to push messaging. He also noted that in 2011, Ms Martin was the contact person for a ‘Talkback Army’ that was meant to phone in to radio stations to show support for NZ First.

A new party being launched on the platform of New Zealand having a written constitution is being given short shrift by one of the concept’s biggest supporters. Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former PM and written constitution wanter, told Stuff it will be exceedingly difficult for the New Zealand Constitution Party to gain traction, because voters tend to not go for single issue parties. And another academic, Waikato University’s Gay Morgan, made the salient point that having a ‘constitution culture’ is what really matters for the good governance of a country, rather than the constitution being written down on a piece of paper.

We’ve all had long days at work, but this one’s a bit ridiculous. One News reports that a Gore radio DJ has broken the New Zealand record for the longest continuous broadcast – clocking in at 107 hours and 24 minutes. Bob “Caveman” McKenzie, who runs his own station called Cave FM, said the feeling of sleep deprivation was like being drunk.

From our partners: Barbecuing is one of New Zealand’s national summer past-time, but what are the nuances in our barbecue culture? Brenda Talacek, Vector’s Group Manager for Gas Trading, lifts the lid.

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Te Whare Rūnanga poutokomanawa, Waitangi.

Right now on The Spinoff – Waitangi Special Edition: Hinerangi Rhind-Wiri, Haylee Koroi and Lizzie Strickett spoke to friends and whānau about what a living Treaty of Waitangi partnership looks like. One to share with the kids – Toby Morris produced a comic for the School Journals about the history of Te Tiriti, which breaks down why what happened then still matters now. And Madeleine Chapman and Ra Pomare combine to outline just why the Waitangi Day pub crawl in London is such an uncomfortable tradition.

Two other pieces: Duncan Greive reports that Vice NZ looks set to either close, or be dramatically scaled back, amid a wave of redundancies at the media company around the world. And Alex Casey, Jihee Junn and Sam Brooks went to the So Pop extravaganza of 90s acts you might prefer to forget, and came back with a review that is sweet, heartfelt and funny.

So, waste: In some ways, the feedback to this question was the crisis New Zealand is facing with waste and plastics disposal in microcosm. It came in a flood that I wasn’t prepared for, and I didn’t have the capacity to process it all at once.

If you sent one in and I haven’t responded, my apologies, there simply wasn’t time to get back to everyone. But I’ve read every email that came in, and from that pulled together 12 suggestions. You can read them here.

Now, if you read any of those suggestions and know of something that could potentially be added to them, which would increase how valuable it is to other readers, please send it in to I’ll try and keep updating this document so that it only becomes more and more useful.

And finally, thank you so much to everyone who has participated in this. One responder mentioned in passing that after reading it he had been tossing ideas around with his workmates, which is fantastic – these are great conversations to take into day to day life. Please keep having those conversations, and if you get the chance to talk to a business or political leader, have a conversation with them about it too.

Here’s a really strong column by Newsroom’s Steve Deane, about the decline of sportswriters being able to actually leave the office. It’s a bit of a modern media phenomenon that companies which are doing more with less (which pretty much everywhere in NZ is doing with sports journalism) aren’t able to send reporters off to cover events or pressers. One slight counter-point I’d make – yes, NZME has lost some good cricket writers, but they’ve got a real young gun in Niall Anderson, and the company is not exactly short of cricket experts if you take Radio Sport into account.

Speaking of the cricket: The White Ferns have pulled off the biggest coup of the season to date, in their first T20 against India. India were cruising at 102-1 in the 12th over, in a chase of 160. About half an hour later, they were all out for 136, after Tahuhu and Kerr tore their middle order to shreds. And in the men’s game, the Black Caps handed a surprisingly ragged India their worst ever defeat, knocking out an 80 run win. The double headers move on to Eden Park this Friday.

That’s it for The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, pass on this signup form to them.

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