Judith Collins is ahead of Simon Bridges as preferred PM in both polls

The Bulletin: New polls bring joy, confusion for political obsessives

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Two polls released showing bizarrely different scenarios, Murupara runs out of cash, and report finds racism embedded in the justice system. 

In the space of a single evening, two wildly different poll results came out. Each tells an entirely different story of the voting preferences of the country, and the overall trend. Is there anything that can possibly be learned from them? Possibly, but it is a really nice example of how polls are effectively just a single sampled snapshot in time, and because of that no individual polls should be taken as gospel.

Let’s go through them individually for the big contrasts. First of all, the National Party was much improved in the One News Colmar Brunton poll, jumping back up to 44% to be the single largest party. But with Labour on 42% and the Greens and NZ First both making it over the threshold, there’s still not really a compelling path back to government on those numbers. Interestingly all of New Conservative, the Opportunities Party and ACT were all around 1%, suggesting some voters haven’t given up on the minor parties quite yet. The stories about them recently haven’t been overwhelmingly positive (in TOP’s case it has been internal battles, for NC it has largely through being grouped with other parties with similar ideology) so it could be a case of voters being reminded they exist. Then again, in both cases the senior figures in each party have been grinding away at a lot of public events recently, so it could also be a case of building up a campaign the old-fashioned way.

But then looking at the Newshub Reid Research poll, Labour are up so high they’d be able to govern alone. They’re at a shade over 50%, with the Greens surviving as a buffer. National fell down to 37%, which conventional wisdom among the press gallery suggests is unsurvivable for leader Simon Bridges. NZ First also fall well under the threshold on this poll. So what we’ve got is a situation where on one poll, Simon Bridges has a useful runway to the election, and the other in which he may as well pack his bags this morning. What can we possibly make of all this?

National-aligned blogger and pollster David Farrar has a take on it all. His conclusion on Kiwiblog is that they can’t both be right, so it’s obvious the correct one is [insert your own personal bias here.] One detail he cites jumps out though – the Newshub poll started being conducted just before the Budget and teacher strike, and the One News poll started a few days after. There’s a small possibility those events swayed significant numbers of voters away from the government. But it’s a huge reachand would also probably require both being at the extreme ends of their respective margins of error. Apart from that it’s possible differences in methodology, sampling or weighting has played a role, but we can’t say that for sure.

So where do the polls agree? Both say the Green Party are doing alright, and it will be immensely heartening for the party that their core supporters continue to stick by them. It’s ironic, really – they haven’t really got all that many distinct policy wins out of being in government (especially compared to NZ First.) But if anything, that might help the party make the argument that there’s much more that needs to be done.

But poor old Simon Bridges. He’s below caucus colleague Judith Collins in both polls – in the Newshub one he’s way below.  After the leadership contest, the roadshow, the Jami-Lee Ross saga, that promo video where he plays the drums, various major policy announcements and endless smaller releases, slushies, the whole Treasury thing, and so on, you can’t help but think the electorate must have got to know him pretty well. And by now it’s unmistakable that almost nobody in the country wants him to be the next PM. We can draw very few solid conclusions from any one poll. This one has been ringing out time and time again for months.


Times are always pretty tough in Murupara, but they’re especially so at the moment with an evaporation of cash from circulation. Stuff’s Donna-Lee Biddle reports it follows a ram-raid on the credit union ATM, which has caused the cash supply to dry out. That in turn has created significant hardship for locals, for things as simple as paying for a bus to school, or giving change in shops. A hui is being held tonight to talk about what to do about the situation, which will include leaders from the small and isolated communities that rely on Murupara as their main service hub.


Racism is embedded in the justice system, a report from an advisory group has found. Radio NZ reports Māori are terribly over-represented as both victims and offenders of crime, and that many Māori feel disengaged from the justice system. Advocate Julia Whaipooti says that is partly down to the long term impacts of colonisation. The report also found that many victims of crime are critical of how they have been treated in the justice system.


Questions are being raised about the practice of using ‘mock interviews’ in the Royal Commission into abuse in state care. Newsroom reports some survivor participants have been left deeply disappointed after learning that initial sessions they were part of were to fine-tune the process, rather than being in the pursuit of gathering evidence. A spokesperson for the Commission said the use of practice sessions was decided in consultation with survivors, and was similar to processes used overseas.


There’s a lot of contention around a decision to require a limited number of fishing boats to have cameras. The decision has been made for boats operating in areas used by Māui Dolphins, which are critically endangered. Some in the Taranaki fishing community say the requirements are another regulatory cost that could cause some operators to shut down, reports the Taranaki Daily News. On the other hand, Forest and Bird say the government’s moves in the area are a major backdown to the industry, as the vast majority of boats won’t be required to have cameras. Their solution to protect Māui Dolphins is to “stop dangerous set netting and trawling in their habitat, not put cameras on boats that mostly already have MPI staff on them.”


Newsroom columnist Rod Oram has taken aim at big manufacturers looking to carve out exemptions from the Zero Carbon Act. It’s a very strong piece, looking at the sector of ‘Emissions Intensive, Trade Exposed’ (EITE) companies who have to date managed to fudge their way through the emissions trading scheme. It seems fitting to raise the column in light of the news that atmospheric carbon levels are now the highest they’ve ever been in human history. Alas for those running these EITEs, there won’t be any exemptions from the climate consequences of that.


A vow to rebuild a beloved Wellington marae gutted by fire has been made, reports One News. Tapu Te Ranga spokesperson Gabriel Tupou says it will be a “mammoth task,” but that the wider whānau is determined to see it through. There’s an incredible story behind the building of the marae, retold here, which captures the essence of how a place built by a community became a home for a community. If you want to help at all, a GiveaLittle page has been set up.


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Nathan Smith of Gravity Fishing (Photo: Tony Stewart)

Right now on The Spinoff: Two years on, Lucy Kelly has revisited an essay about how working in an abortion clinic changed her views on the matter. Don Rowe questions why Nintendo feels the need to try and use Pokemon to profit from sleep (as in, literal human sleep.) Erin Gourley meets women who have had breast reductions and why they were necessary. And Sam Brooks reports from a ‘networking lunch for lads’ which to everyone’s great surprise, he actually somewhat enjoyed.

Plus, this piece from food editor Alice Neville is very cool. It’s about new generation fisherman who are changing what they do to be much more sustainable, and how that then feeds into what restaurants are doing. It also results in better traceability and shorter supply chains between oceans and plates.


The ocean at the bottom of New Zealand is sending us clues about what climate change is doing, and scientists are trying to understand them. The NZ Herald’s Jamie Morton has done a fantastic job with this feature of translating those scientific efforts into something easily readable and understandable. One thing we do know for sure about the Souther Ocean is that it is currently part of a great and vital carbon sink – but for how long? Here’s an excerpt:

When the surface of the ocean around Antarctica froze, cold and salty water dropped down to the ocean floor, sending a huge annual signal that kept the heartbeat of the world’s ocean pumping.

It’s also where the heaviest waters in the global ocean are made, and where there is massive absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) into the ocean.

This made it a key place for understanding climate change, as the dense waters and high uptake of CO2 help bury atmospheric CO2 into the ocean.

Scientists studying the ocean can observe and measure these changes in the climate and, using climate models, can make predictions about the future.


The Crusaders will not be changing their name next year, but will be changing their logo. It seems destined to be a compromise decision that doesn’t really please many people at all. Stuff reports that over the course of the year there will be a “sweeping review” of the overall branding of the franchise, which could include a name change but that wouldn’t happen until 2021 at the earliest. Those most pleased by this outcome include the consulting industry and talkback radio producers, who will both be kept in business by it.

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In the Cricket World Cup, just two teams now remain unbeaten. India have pushed Australia aside overnight, and New Zealand remain on top of the table with three wins from three (admittedly easier) games. We’ve got not one but two episodes of The Offspin for you to chew through, all thanks to the magnificent work of self-appointed cricket editor Simon Day. He spoke to Kiwi-Afghanis Basir Safi and Ismail Wardak about their journey to loving cricket and living here, and cricket writer Mohammad Isam about the bond that exists now between New Zealand and Bangladesh, since their team narrowly escaped tragedy on March 15 in Christchurch.


From our partners: A two-tier system of energy use is developing, with those on high incomes much more able to reduce their bills than households on lower incomes. Vector’s Chief Risk and Sustainability Officer Kate Beddoe outlines what the company plans to do about that.


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