Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Long term consequences from heavy weekend weather, hospitality giant apologises for many mishandled complaints, and Auckland traffic chaos looms.
There will be long term consequences from the weather that hammered the country over the weekend. Chief among them is a massive slip cutting State Highway 6, on the West Coast. The Press reports it could take more than a month to fix, and the town of Franz Josef has once again been cut off by bad weather. There’s a huge job now to get almost a thousand tourists out, and the industry is expected to have a shocking season as a result. The ODT reports Wanaka has also been affected, with lake levels expected to peak today, and many campsites submerged.
South Canterbury has also been hit very hard, reports the Timaru Herald. Several key bridges are currently closed, after the Rangitata River flooded, and a large number of evacuations had to be made. Those in the region are advised to stay put today, and not try and travel on potentially dangerous roads. Water levels were reportedly dropping yesterday, but it will take a lot of time to measure the damage to roads. Radio NZ is on the scene in Timaru this morning, and it sounds hectic. There will also be ongoing effects for farmers who saw their paddocks get far too wet. A particularly worrying event in the wider Canterbury region was reported on by the ODT, with tens of thousands losing internet and mobile coverage, making the job of emergency services more difficult.
The Wellington region was also drenched by heavy rain. The Dominion Post reports Porirua East was particularly badly hit, with flood prone areas inundated again. Other areas that went underwater included parts of Hutt City and Pāuatahanui. The weather system is moving north, and a severe rain watch has been issued for the Central North Island today.
The fundamental problem is that way too much rain fell in too short a time to manage. One News reports huge swathes of the South Island have now already had three times as much rain as they would normally see in the whole of December. Local Government NZ say it should be a wake up call for investment in flood protection. Their outgoing boss Dave Cull says with climate change induced storms hitting harder and more frequently, the time to act is now. Civil Defence minister Peeni Henare’s message to the public is to stay informed about local conditions and hazards, so keep an eye on both Metservice and NZTA’s Road Closure site.
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One of the largest hospitality employers in the country has apologised after mishandling widespread complaints of sexual assault and harassment, reports Alison Mau for Stuff. Young women at Pizza Hut and KFC stores around the country made complaints, which were then either basically covered up, or the investigation into them was totally botched. The cases that are covered in the investigation speak for themselves, but experts say the industry is rife with such abuses.
NZ Bus have cancelled bus services across Auckland as part of a lockout of drivers engaged in industrial action. Toby Manhire has a cheat sheet on the cancellation, and which services will be affected. The decision from NZ Bus to suspend drivers follows a week in which unionised drivers continued operating services, but refused to collect fares, as part of their ongoing campaign for better pay and conditions.
As such, expect traffic to be absolutely munted today, and if you can either work from home, bike, or get another form of public transport, it’d probably be a good idea. And as this could end up lasting until Christmas, keep an eye on Auckland Transport’s service announcement updates.
Here’s an important story that hasn’t been covered in the Bulletin yet – the withdrawal of the Treaty negotiation mandate from Ngāpuhi group Tūhoronuku. Radio NZ’s Te Aniwa Hurihanganui has had strong coverage of this, and what it will mean for the long-delayed settlement of the country’s largest iwi. Tūhoronuku, led in part by the recently resigned Sonny Tau and Hone Sadler, reportedly lost touch with the grassroots of the iwi. But there is some concern that whatever comes next won’t do any more to get the process back on track.
You may be surprised at just how many cameras are watching you around Auckland. The NZ Herald (paywalled) reports the police are able to access thousands of CCTV cameras, owned by the Council. The police stress that they’re not doing surveillance of the public, rather they use the network when it is needed for a specific purpose. But privacy experts say we need some clear lines to be put in place about how this sort of technology can be used, because it’s only going to become more sophisticated.
A range of measures have been announced to reduce plastic use, after a major report found a need to fundamentally rethink how we use the material. Those response measures have largely been derided as little more than taking the plastic stickers off fruit, but as this cheat sheet from The Spinoff’s Catherine McGregor shows, it’s quite a bit more significant than that. Basically what is being targeted is single use plastic that is difficult to recycle, with the government saying it will step up efforts to both make manufacturers use recycle-able materials, and make it easier for consumers to get them back into the processing system for another use.
The provincial growth fund to date has delivered hundreds, rather than thousands of jobs, reports Anna Bracewell-Worrell for Newshub. Shane Jones, the minister in charge, says that as the funded projects develop, that number will rise. But National say it is effectively just hurling money away for no discernable benefit. In an interesting detail about it all at the bottom of the story, the number of jobs in Wellington overseeing the fund have doubled in the past year.
Minister Kris Faafoi has kept his job after apologising for an embarrassing screw-up involving former Opshop singer Jason Kerrison. Faafoi says he gave the impression that he was helping out with an immigration matter involving Kerrison’s mother, but in fact he wasn’t. Over on The Spinoff, Toby Manhire has analysed why the Ardern-led government seems to keep on finding itself in situations where it is being put in awkward positions by minor celebrities. There’s more of that sort of chat on the latest Gone By Lunchtime podcast, but in that instance you also get the bonus reckons of Ben Thomas and Annabelle Lee-Mather.
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Right now on The Spinoff: Pip Colgan, a beneficiary advocate at Auckland Action Against Poverty, writes about the experience of fighting to get people what they’re entitled to. Josie Adams chronicles the brief life of Lime, the scooter that has now been booted from Auckland’s streets. Liam Hehir asks why integrated schools – many of them also hard up – haven’t been given infrastructure funding. Jordan Hamel interviews five NZ artists, including Mel Bracewell and Marlon Williams, about what they love about basketball. The Spinoff Food shares a range of ideas about the best hangover food. Tara Ward looks back at 10 of the weirdest and wildest moments on Britain’s Got Talent. And Sarah Paterson-Hamlin has updated her ethical Christmas gift giving guide for 2019, which could come in handy – two and a bit weeks to go and all.
For a feature today, a wild yarn from a Kiwi journalist doing cool work overseas. Writing in UAE based The National, Ashleigh Stewart has written about a film director who claimed to have worked with some of the biggest names in film, with more exciting projects on the go. But after a bit of digging, it all started to come crashing down. Here’s an excerpt:
He claims to have made films that had their premieres at the Cannes Film Festival. His latest project, Aylan Baby, is allegedly set to tell the story of Kurdi, the Syrian toddler who became a symbol of Europe’s migration crisis in 2015 after images showed his lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach. Many of Sarikaya’s production crews and actors work for free, on the understanding that all proceeds from the films are going to charity.
It’s the same story he has told several media outlets, and possible collaborators, for years. His IMDb account would certainly attest to that: a smiling Sarikaya in a black tie, surrounded by cameras, on a film festival red carpet. Under that image is a series of directing, producing and writing credits; a respectable career in the film industry?
Well, not quite. Because the charities Sarikaya claims to be working with have never received money from his movies, while one is even publicly distancing itself from him. Many of his “projects” have been in production for years, or are “finished” films that have never been released.
It’s still a few years in the making, but the prospect of highly paid professional women’s cricket is looming. That’s based on comments from new Indian cricket boss Sourav Ganguly, who according to Cricinfo says a full Women’s IPL tournament could be about four years away. It’s hard to overstate just how much more money that could pump into the game, as it did with Men’s cricket. Meanwhile in the Women’s Big Bash finals, the Brisbane Heat have won the title after comfortably beating the Adelaide Strikers – or in Kiwi-watch, Amelia Kerr took down Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates. Of particular note for the business of women’s cricket, the game saw a sellout crowd turn up.
And the Wellington Phoenix are really starting to turn a corner on a poor starting season. Stuff reports they secured a handy (and late) 2-1 win over Western Sydney in Auckland, even if it took a bit of luck and opportunism to get it over the line. It means the winning run is now three games in a row, and the team has been rapidly boosted from the foot of the table into playoff contention.
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