A visualisation of light rail along the Northwestern motorway (Supplied)

The Bulletin: Super Fund’s super plan for Auckland rail

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Super Fund makes play for Auckland light rail, enthusiasm for cannabis investment crashes crowdfunding site, and Anglicans take step towards same sex marriage recognition.

The NZ Super Fund will put in a bid to own, operate and build Auckland’s light rail network, reports Stuff. The Super Fund, which controls about $37 billion, would form a consortium of international infrastructure investors to cover the initial $6 billion dollar projects, which are a line between the CBD and the Airport, and another from the CBD through to Kumeu. The bid was unsolicited but welcome, said the government. It’s a huge story for Auckland, reflected by the massive front page splash on the NZ Herald this morning.

However, NZ Herald business editor Hamish Fletcher isn’t pleased about it, saying the mandate of the Super Fund is primarily to grow and make money, rather than investing in projects that may yield lower returns. Fletcher says given the ageing population and the ballooning future costs of retirement payments, the fund can’t afford any failures.

But Simon Wilson, also in the NZ Herald, says the Super Fund’s returns to date show they clearly know what they’re doing, as one of the best performing sovereign wealth funds in the world. The story is an opportunity for Simon Wilson to use a favourite phrase for public policy that he likes – “joined up thinking.” But as it will be a PPP of sorts, there could be risks to taxpayers.

The Super Fund has increasingly been operating on a model of ‘ethical investment’ – which basically translates to making big piles of money without making the world a worse place in the process. And if it’s built and operated competently, light rail will undoubtedly make the city more liveable. Cabinet will now consider the bid, along with any others that come in.

Meanwhile, speaking of transport in Auckland, there could be delays again this morning. Radio NZ has a live blog.


For two nights in a row, crowd–funding website PledgeMe has crashed due to interest in shares for a medicinal cannabis company. The Gisborne Herald had this report after the first night (Tuesday) but last night it went down again, according to PledgeMe’s blog.

The shares are in the fledgling Hikurangi Cannabis, which has garnered plenty of publicity by aiming to be the first local producer of medicinal cannabis. At the time of writing, about $1.3 million has been raised in the PeldgeMe drive, with 8 days to go.


The Anglican Church in NZ has taken a major step towards recognition of same sex marriages, reports Newshub. Church leaders voted to allow bishops to authorise blessings of same sex marriages, though no church leader will be compelled to perform one. The Anglican Church has three tikanga strands (Māori, Polynesian and Pākehā) and the Polynesian strand chose not to veto the decision so as to not hinder Māori and Pākehā, though it will not apply to Anglican churches in the Pacific.


A Chinese founded investment bank is offering Pacific Islands assistance in cracking down on illegal fishing in their waters, reports Interest. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank says fishing could make island nations rich, but they don’t have the capacity to police their waters. But veteran Pacific journalist is skeptical, saying if Chinese organisations want to stop illegal fishing, they could start by stopping Chinese boats going out and doing the illegal fishing.

Meanwhile Australia’s aid boost to the Pacific is being questioned, reports Radio NZ. Along with New Zealand’s increase (as seen in yesterday’s Bulletin, scroll down) it is being seen as a clear signal to China by Anna Powles at Massey University’s Centre for Defence and Security Studies. Dr Powles says it’s development assistance, framed in the terms of a geopolitical contest. Money will also go towards security, law enforcement and intelligence training for Pacific leaders.


Supermarket giants Countdown and Foodstuffs have lost a bid to defer time restrictions on the sale of alcohol in Auckland coming into force, reports the NBR. Under the Council’s provisional alcohol plan, they’ll only be able to sell booze between the hours of 7am and 9pm. Justice Rebecca Edwards also noted that it is unclear when exactly the provision will come into effect.


All charter schools have applied to become state schools, reports Newstalk ZB. Most are applications to become character schools. Minister Chris Hipkins expects to make a decision on their futures by July.


New Zealand has had a craft beer boom, but how long can it last? The Wireless has looked into this, and found plenty of nervousness among brewers that the number of people trying to launch craft beers isn’t sustainable, and some are going to go bust.


The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed, free daily curated digest of all the most important stories from around New Zealand delivered directly to your inbox each morning.

Sign up now




Clockwise from top left: Nicola Gaston, Paul Callaghan, Shaun Hendy, Paul Callaghan in Antarctica, Anne Salmond, Bill Manhire

Right now on The Spinoff: The friends and colleagues of Sir Paul Callaghan remember his life and work, ahead of a new documentary. The final instalment of Peter Wells‘ beautiful and moving cancer diary has been published. And Courtney Sanders has explored the limits of ethical fashion, in the wake of the ‘Made in New Zealand’ labelling controversy.


Got some feedback about The Bulletin, or anything in the news? Drop us a line at thebulletin@thespinoff.co.nz


And now, a guest post from The Spinoff’s TV editor Sam Brooks, about the shows you should binge–watch this winter.

It’s winter, so it’s time to get cozy with your loved ones (a human, a pet, or a bottle of wine, we don’t judge at the Spinoff) and watch an ungodly amount of television. Lucky for you, I’ve got the best shows that you can binge right now.

If you’re looking for something a little heavy, you can’t get heavier than The Handmaid’s Tale, the first season of which is ripe for binging on Lightbox right now, with the episodes from the second season dropping weekly. In case you’ve been living under a rock, or anywhere that is slightly to the right of centre, The Handmaid’s Tale is a post-apocalyptic tale of oppressed women who are forced into full-blown servitude once a fundamentalist Christian religion has taken over the government of the United States. Farfetched, huh? It’s won a boatload of awards and your colleagues are probably talking about it at the watercooler without you, so winter’s as good a time as any to jump on.

If you’re looking for a compelling drama that’s dropping week-by-week, or you really miss seeing Sandra Oh on your television screens, then what you’re looking for is Killing Eve, which is dropping weekly on TVNZ on Demand. Brought you by the mind who brought you Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s latest is a spy drama meets black comedy about a woman who falls ass backwards into hunting after a contract killer who seems to be killing just for the fun of it. It’s my favourite drama on TV at the moment, and if you loved Sandra Oh’s high-drama acting on Grey’s Anatomy (and why wouldn’t you, you monster), then you’ll go nuts for her here.

Now if you’re going a little bit more niche with your picks, and especially with your comedy, I would like to bring you An Emmy for Megan Amram, a mini-series which you can blitz through in about half an hour on Vimeo. Brought from the woman who is currently a writer on The Good Place, and has written for Parks and Recreation, but most important has a boss twitter account, the show is Amram’s craven attempt to win an Emmy any way she can – through crying, through faked diversity, through tired tropes. It’s alt-comedy at its most alt, but if you were here for Parks and Rec, then you’ll be here for this.

If all else fails, you can watch ten seasons of Friends on TVNZ on Demand like I did over the summer, because nobody can judge you but your dirty mirror.


In sport, it’s time to get into the crass, overblown Indian Premier League, mostly because a New Zealander is doing really well. Kane Williamson’s Sunrisers Hyderabad are at the top of the table, and Williamson himself is arguably the most valuable player of the tournament so far, with a huge number of runs and extremely canny captaincy. Williamson might not have even been a regular starter had David Warner not been banned for his role in the Australian ball–tampering saga. The Times of India have a great report on that, in which they also discover the Kane + Able headline play so beloved by cricket writers around the world.

And also in cricket, the Basin Reserve’s rickety old museum stand might be saved, reports the Dominion Post on their front page today. An announcement on strengthening it will be made today, so watch this space. Of course, the bank is a far superior spot to watch a batting collapse from anyway.

Finally, why exactly does it matter that the Football Ferns will now have equalised travel for international fixtures? Well, because their performances suffered through not getting the physical and psychological benefits of business class travel. That’s according to veteran Football Fern Sarah Gregorius, who spoke to Newsroom’s Suzanne McFadden.


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.


The Bulletin is brought to you by Vector. If you live in Auckland, they also delivered the power you’re using to read it. And they’re creating a new energy future for all of us, as showcased by the incredible Vector Lights.


The Spinoff Longform Fund is dedicated to facilitating investigative journalism. Our focus is on supporting in-depth reporting on important New Zealand stories. Your donation will help us sustain this most resource-intensive form of journalism, ensuring that the most complex and important stories still get told.

Related:


The Spinoff is made possible by the generous support of the following organisations.
Please help us by supporting them.