A te reo teaching resource (Image: Radio NZ – Mihingarangi Forbes)

The Bulletin: Government parties at odds over compulsory te reo teaching

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Greens and Labour at odds over compulsory te reo in schools, petrol prices hit high, and farmers facing big mycoplasma bovis bill.

The government won’t yet back a Green Party push for compulsory te reo Māori in schools, reports Newshub. New Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson is firmly in favour, but there’s nothing about it in the confidence and supply agreement between her party and Labour. While Labour is taking a somewhat equivocal position on the issue of te reo use generally, NZ First is very unlikely to support making it compulsory in schools. The Labour Party’s current policy is that te reo will be compulsory by 2025, and in the interim more work will be done to include Māori history in the curriculum, and to make te reo universally available in schools.

Not everyone currently in the Labour caucus has been fully on board with this policy in the past. In April 2016, now Māori caucus chair Willie Jackson wrote an opinion piece for Radio Live, saying it should be made compulsory. He wrote that in response to a book on the health of the language by historian Paul Moon.

Here’s an really interesting recent story on the topic – it’s a subject where kids in lower–decile areas do better than their counterparts in high decile schools, reports Radio NZ. That was partly attributed to demographic factors – more Māori kids are in lower decile schools proportionally, and it’s more likely that those households speak te reo in the home. But success where it comes should be celebrated, because – also from Radio NZ – the ministry of education is warning that bold steps need to be taken to address unconscious bias some teachers have against Māori students.

There was however one change in the use of New Zealand’s official languages at Parliament yesterday – a New Zealand Sign Language interpreter will now be part of all Prime Ministerial post-cabinet press conferences.


Petrol prices are at their highest level in three and a half years, reports Stuff. The price of 91 in Wellington – considered an industry benchmark – was on Monday $2.199 a litre, just below the previous all time high of  $2.269 set in the middle of 2013.

And the bad news keeps coming for BP, who are being taken to the Commerce Commission by a family who couldn’t get change on MTA vouchers, reports Stuff. The vouchers terms say that giving change is at the discretion of the retailer, and the amount of money in question – $40 – is small. But it could be an added public relations headache for BP, who have been under fire over the past week for their pricing tactics.


Farmers and the government could be facing a billion dollar bill to eradicate mycoplasma bovis, reports the NBR (paywalled) That cost could be spread over as many as ten years, and agriculture minister Damien O’Connor wants farmers to pay up to 40% of that. But National’s Nathan Guy says that could breach an agreement made by the previous government on cost–sharing.

On that point, Guy Trafford writes at Interest that farmers should be wary before simply paying up. The estimates for how much each farmer may have to pay range up to $30,000, and Trafford argues that farmers should wait to see an eradication plan, and where their contribution will go. And there is no guarantee of success yet, underlined by the picture selected to accompany the opinion piece – a hole with money flowing into it.


The Bay of Plenty has a worker shortage of 1200 to pick a bumper kiwifruit crop, reports the Bay of Plenty Times. A labour shortage for the area has been declared, which will make it easier for those on visitor visas to work in the area. Industry figures say the shortage of labour is due to the lack of backpackers this year, rather than pay rates – though the story unfortunately doesn’t mention what those pay rates are.

And speaking of backpackers, this from Stuff is a good expose on the culture of labour exploitation among Wwoofing. (willing workers on organic farms) The labour inspectorate is looking to crack down on freebie labour across the sector, and has also recently been targeting backpacker hostels, where they say the practice is endemic.


Radio NZ has a new chair, with Jim Mather to replace Richard Griffin once the latter’s term finishes later this year, reports Stuff. Griffin’s term ended in some acrimony, as he clashed with broadcasting minister Clare Curran over the wider saga around the sacking of RNZ head of news Carol Hirschfeld. Mather comes to the role with a background as the Māori TV CEO, and is currently the CEO for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

And Māori TV also have a new chair in Jamie Tuuta. He has a background in iwi and business governance, and has formerly been a political journalist at Māori TV.


Dame Denise L’Estrange Corbet went on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint yesterday afternoon, after The Spinoff’s article yesterday morning titled: T-Shirts from Bangladesh. Sequin patches from China. Sold by WORLD as ‘Made in New Zealand.’ It was one of many interviews Dame Denise did yesterday, and a full response from editor of The Spinoff Toby Manhire can be found below.


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(Illustrations: Toby Morris)

Right now on The Spinoff: Madeleine Chapman rode an Onzo bike from Mt Eden to Huntly. Why? Why indeed. Guest writer Adam Goodall has talked to two award winning New Zealand game developers. And what exactly are the rules on claiming clothing is made in New Zealand? (or Fabrique en Nouvelle-Zelande) Business editor Rebecca Stevenson has written a guide.


And now, a guest post from editor of The Spinoff Toby Manhire, regarding the allegations made by yesterday against our story, our reporter Madeleine Chapman, and our organisation: 

We fully expected Madeleine Chapman’s scoop yesterday on the Spinoff would make some waves. The story revealed that New Zealand fashion house WORLD had been selling T-shirts with Made in NZ tags attached, that were in fact manufactured in Bangladesh, adorned with sequin patches that were also imported.

What we didn’t expect was that it would portend nothing less than “the death of journalism”. That was one of several claims made in a series of interviews given by WORLD founder Denise L’Estrange Corbet, who has said in recent times that “all our clothing is made is New Zealand,” among other things.

Dame Denise made further statements that were sometimes allowed to go uncontested; she asserted that the Spinoff had taken down its story and that it had published allegations that WORLD cut off clothing tags. That was false.

The best claim of all made by Dame Denise, was that the tag attached to garments that read “Fabrique in New Zealand” referred not to the clothing, but to the tag itself. Yes, she said that.

I’ve gone through some of the claims in a post here, but needless to say, we stand 100% by our story and our superb reporter.


In sport, SANZAAR bosses have dismissed reports South African teams are on the verge of ditching the competition. Radio NZ quoted CEO Andy Marinos as saying the report out of Wales was “simply wrong,” and that the organisation was currently putting a strategy in place that would last through to 2030. 

And Newsroom’s Suzanne McFadden has written about the upcoming review of the Silver Ferns’ disastrous Commonwealth Games campaign. McFadden interviewed Don Mackinnon, who will lead the review (note – not the former Commonwealth secretary general) and writes that it will be measured, rather than a witch–hunt.


And from our partners, Vector’s Karl Check analyses Australia’s progress when it comes to shifting away from coal and gas fired power plants and onto renewable energy sources.


That’s it for the The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, please forward it on and encourage them to sign up here. Thanks for joining us this morning.


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