The BulletinJuly 10, 2019

The Bulletin: Fresh footage revelations around Operation Burnham


Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: More revealed about aftermath of Hit and Run raid, police delete social posts glorifying tactics to catch kids, and regional airports may be bailed out.

Politicians were shown edited footage of the Hit and Run raid which throws into question the NZDF version of events, reports the NZ Herald’s (paywalled) David Fisher. 12 seconds of footage were deleted from the logs of the US helicopter, which showed civilians sheltering behind a building that had been hit by stray high-explosive rounds. But when the NZDF presented the footage at Beehive screenings, politicians shown it are now split on whether they were told it had been edited. The footage was used as part of an NZDF campaign to demonstrate an inquiry wasn’t needed.

It’s another major development, in a chain of events that has upended previous narratives of how Operation Burnham unfolded. Those revelations haven’t necessarily favoured any particular party in the inquiry either. Recently one of the book’s co-author’s Jon Stephenson told RNZ that a key claim in the book was wrong, in that there were actually armed insurgents inside the village that was attacked. And previous versions of the aircraft video, such as this one published by One News (warning, graphic) also appear to show people with weapons. That footage was released because co-author Nicky Hager obtained it from American authorities.

It all underlines the significance of why the inquiry is taking place. Even with the withdrawal of the Afghan villagers from the inquiry process, the understanding the New Zealand public have of NZDF operations is extremely limited. Partly that’s by design, and for operational security reasons. But through the inquiry process and the events around it, some of what was previously hidden has been revealed. For the New Zealand public to be able to form informed opinions about overseas military deployments, having a more full picture is crucial.

The police have deleted social media posts which glorified the tactics used to chase down fleeing children, reports Don Rowe for The Spinoff. The Children’s Commissioner weighed in on the posts, saying they potentially breached the privacy of the two 14 years olds and one 13 year old who were arrested. In the course of that arrest, police used a technique called a ‘rotor wash’ to flush the kids out of a waterway, as well as having dog teams on hand – which significantly increases the risk of suspects being harmed in the course of an arrest.

Regional airports in dire financial positions might end up being bailed out, reports Thomas Coughlan for Stuff. A group of them basically can’t fund the maintenance they need to keep operating, but it’s not yet clear exactly which fund the money would come out of. Many of the cost pressures on small airports are basically the same as those faced by large airports, but they don’t have the passenger volumes to make it worthwhile.

NCEA credits that were withheld over unpaid fees will be given out today, reports Radio NZ. The move will impact nearly 150,000 people, and has been lauded by secondary school principals. It follows a decision by the government to abolish NCEA fees, and the awarding of these credits is about equity for past students who were affected. Around 60,000 people will now be formally awarded an NCEA qualification, which could have significant benefits for many of them.

The process of how government ministers came to overrule extending ACC services to those mentally affected by the Christchurch attacks has been laid out. Newsroom reports advice was sought in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, and was provided within a few days. However, the provision of cover for mental injuries was subsequently stymied, even in the case of a unique event like the Christchurch attacks.

Dame Tariana Turia still sees a place for an independent Māori political movement, despite her former party’s struggles. The former Māori Party co-leader told Q+A that such a movement could take place within or outside of parliament, but that currently Māori MPs in parliament were part of a constraining system. The full video interview is well worth watching.

A massive pest eradication push has been launched around the Wellington suburb of Miramar, reports Radio NZ. More than 6000 traps have been set, in an effort to create conditions to allow native birds and geckos to flourish again. The plan is to take Miramar back by Christmas, with a view to extending that out to other parts of the region in the subsequent months and years.

I had no idea working dogs could be this valuable, but here it is: The ODT reports a dog called Jack has set a new sale price record for the Ashburton dog sale at Mayfield, going for a cool $10,000. There’s a picture of him too, and I’m sure you’ll be happy to know he looks like a very good boy.

A clarification from yesterday: A story included in yesterday’s Bulletin about food hardships cited a Ministry of Health report, which said one in five kids lived in a household with food insecurity. A reader has asked it to be pointed out that the MOH report – while released this year – was based on information gathered in 2015/16.

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Right now on The Spinoff: Keri Mills writes about the threats to a sacred grove of pōhutakawa on the edge of Takapuna beach. Josie Adams brings us into the world of low waste living with the first instalment of her Plastic Free July diary. Alice Webb-Liddall binged the latest series of Stranger Things and reviewed it – spoilers abound. And Trevor McKewen casts his eye over the battle for sporting content rights that is looming between Spark and Sky Sport.

For a feature today, a deeply researched piece about the managed decline of a native species. Stuff’s Charlie Mitchell has looked into the plight of the longfin eel, a species of particular importance to Māori who practise mahinga kai – both the harvesting and protection of natural food resources. Numbers are steadily declining, and a major reason is because of human intervention in waterways. Here’s an excerpt:

Earlier this year, a hapū-led group in Northland surveyed eel numbers in local waterways and found longfins were almost entirely absent from rivers known to be commercially fished.

The Te Wai Māori Trust, which represents Māori interests in fisheries, has long lobbied for protection of tuna. As with most fisheries brought into the Quota Management System (QMS) since the mid 1990s, iwi were granted 20 per cent of the longfin eel quota.

Several iwi have refused to use their quota, however, due to concerns about the sustainability of the species.

“We cannot continue on as we are, we need immediate action to halt the degradation of tuna habitat,” Te Wai Māori Trust chairman Ken Mair said earlier this year.

In the cricket, a difficult scenario has emerged. Because the rain last night ended up sticking around, the Black Caps will now have to come out and finish the 3.5 remaining overs of their innings this evening, at a score of 211-5. India will then have their full quota to try and chase it down, on a pitch that could be difficult to score on. Or, it might just be that the Black Caps found it difficult to score on, with some torturously long stretches of dots and defensive batting. I for one am very glad I stayed up until 1.00am to see the weather gods intervene.

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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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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