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Participants in the Auckland Pride march (Jordan Bond, Radio NZ)
Participants in the Auckland Pride march (Jordan Bond, Radio NZ)

The BulletinFebruary 11, 2019

The Bulletin: Pride not the disaster many predicted

Participants in the Auckland Pride march (Jordan Bond, Radio NZ)
Participants in the Auckland Pride march (Jordan Bond, Radio NZ)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Pride events take place over weekend in Auckland, analysis of why the Air NZ flight was turned back from China, and working groups abound on mental health.

In the end, it wasn’t the disaster that many had predicted. The Auckland Pride march still went ahead, heading from Albert Park to Myers Park and filling up a large stretch of Queen St in the process. Radio NZ estimated the numbers as at least 1000, which is certainly lower than the turnout in previous years, but still a significant number of people to get out on a Saturday afternoon. Organisers quoted by Gay Express put the number far higher, saying at least 3000 people had turned up.

Perhaps more importantly for the organisers, all reports indicate the event was a positive one. That matters a lot, because of the rancour that has been swirling around the event since the decision to bar police from marching in uniform. Even as recently as this week, the ramifications of the decision by the police to withdraw in response were still being felt, when they opted to not wear uniforms to monitor the crowds at Waitangi Day. Emilie Rākete, a strong proponent of the uniform ban, wrote on The Spinoff that it showed an inconsistent and confusing approach.

Along with the police withdrawal, there was a flight of corporate support and sponsorship for the event. Many politicians – apart from the Greens – found themselves unable to make it. A range of groups were still involved, a full list of which can be found here. Some in the LGBT+ community welcomed those departures, saying that corporate money represented a corruption of what Pride was meant to stand for.

But writing in the NZ Herald over the weekend, Lizzie Marvelly said it showed the opposite. “To the remaining homophobes, transphobes and other bigots still among us, it loudly declared that the rainbow communities had the support of business, Government, and organisations of all shapes and sizes. It told the prejudiced and narrow-minded that it was them, and not us, who should be ashamed.” It is entirely possible that the debate will still be raging next year, as it is a flashpoint in a wider argument about who can speak for the LGBT+ community.

Meanwhile on Sunday, political leaders were able to make it along to the Big Gay Out. Simon Bridges was attending his first as National leader, but as Newshub reports, he hasn’t always been particularly welcoming towards homosexuality. Newshub found old footage of him as a young person, talking about a former teacher, saying “to be honest I’m not really into homosexuality, but I suppose if he’s going to come out and say it, I suppose it takes a bit of guts.” Perhaps more pertinently, he also voted against marriage equality as recently as 2013 – a conscience vote. Mr Bridges now says he regrets both stances.

Finally, the Big Gay Out was promoting a message of HIV awareness and prevention, and there was some good news for the community on that front. The NZ Herald reports that the AIDS Foundation was facing a cut in government funding, and had intended to use the event to urge the government to change that. However, just before the event health minister David Clark stepped in and directed officials to stop the funding cut.

An Air New Zealand flight to China was turned back over the weekend, and a lot of people are wondering why. This piece from Politik does a useful job of analysing the issue, saying that while Air NZ itself has stated that the Chinese authorities told them the company did not have the necessary permit to land, there could be more to it. “It is precisely when China cracks down on technical infringements of its laws that observers worry there is an ulterior motive in the background”, writes Richard Harman, the journalist behind the piece. Other voices in the story caution that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions or make assumptions.

Meanwhile, the Phoenix are facing a lot of uncertainty around their future with key sponsor Huawei, reports Stuff. Geopolitical tensions may mean that Chinese company Huawei pulls back on their activities in New Zealand – particularly after they were barred from participating in the 5G network rollout. Phoenix GM David Dome literally used the term ‘political football’ to describe the situation.

It’s working groups all the way down with the government’s response to the mental health inquiry. Radio NZ reports a working group set up to advise on how the government should respond to the inquiry, has instead itself been replaced by nine working groups, each in a spoke around a central hub group. The Mental Health Foundation have raised concerns around the approach, saying it runs the risk of just repeating the inquiry without actually doing anything.

IRD has been caught out polling people on their political views, along with their views on fairness in the tax system, reports Stuff. It potentially means the department has acted contrary to their legal obligations to be politically impartial, as having that data bundled together would be valuable to politicians looking to sell a policy. The questions were proposed by polling firm Colmar Brunton, and accepted by IRD, who have now said that the questions about political leanings should not have been included.

The government will amend the law so that smoking and vaping in cars with kids inside will be banned, reports One News. It’s an initiative being fronted by associate health minister Jenny Salesa, who says too many kids are being exposed to second hand smoke – particularly Māori and Pacific kids. Health advocates say the move could have a dramatic effect on asthma rates, and visits to hospital, reports Radio NZ. But vaping advocates Alt New Zealand argue that it’s weird to lump their method in with smoking, as they argue there haven’t been any identified health risks from passive vaping.

One of the strangest stories in the New Zealand arts scene has come to an end, reports the NZ Herald. City of 100 Lovers, the huge-budget show at Sky City that played to near-empty houses every night for months, has been put out of its misery and cancelled. The promoter is also reportedly not responding to creditor inquiries. I regret, I never got a chance to see it.

A cafe in Auckland has taken the admirable stance of not giving away takeaway cups, to those not actually taking their coffee away, reports the NZ Herald. Some brouhaha or other erupted around this, after a customer was told they couldn’t drink their takeaway cup on the premises. The real point of all of this though – Buoy Cafe were previously throwing away 100 takeaway cups a week from customers who had stayed on site, and have been using it as a mechanism to reduce single use waste – they’ve also shifted to compostable packaging. It’s a small thing in the grand scheme, but they did it for the right reasons, so good on them.

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Right now on The Spinoff: Danyl Mclauchlan muses on studies about implicit bias and what they mean for how we interpret the world. Michelle Hyslop explores kauri dieback through the personal stories of the people fighting to save the trees, along with a beautiful photo essay. Greenpeace boss Russel Norman questions who exactly is running NZ’s fishing policy, and why that matters. And Alex Casey meets competitive eater Nela Zisser, and whether or not you feel hungry after reading it probably says a lot about you as a person.

Also, I’m at the Macdiarmid Institute’s AMN9 conference all this week, and filed this story about how knowledge and enthusiasm for science gets passed down through generations, and what is being done to encourage that for mothers and daughters.

Finally, Newstalk ZB/Radio Sport host Martin Devlin launched a vicious and bizarre attack on one of our writers Madeleine Chapman over the weekend, over a banner promoting sexual consent that she took to the cricket. Editor Toby Manhire spoke for all of us at The Spinoff with this response.

Today’s feature comes from E-Tangata, and the writer is a name that will be known to many – Moana Maniapoto. It’s quite a provocative opinion piece, taking aim at the priorities of Māori media funding being primarily around promotion of Te Reo, rather than being focused on robust public broadcasting from a Māori perspective. It also draws deeply on her own experiences as a broadcaster to make the case. Here’s an excerpt:

Of course, the media — and that’s not just the Māori media — should play an important role in revitalising te reo Māori. But the key responsibility of the Māori media is to do what the media in any civil society should be doing. Informing. Educating. And entertaining.

In Wales, schools have to step up for their indigenous reo. Not so in Aotearoa. Every iwi station is required to deliver a daily quota of 10.5 hours of Māori language content, while Māori Television must dedicate 51 percent of its prime time to te reo.

If they want their annual funding, Māori broadcasters have to attract, engage and grow an audience — while prioritising the few who can hold a conversation in Māori.

New Zealand’s cricketers have rounded out a pair of strong T20 series wins against India in dramatic fashion. The White Ferns won their series on Friday with a thrilling last ball victory, and then beat them again in Hamilton to sweep the series. The men, meanwhile, took their series 2-1, with the Black Caps winning in Hamilton by 4 runs, in a match that featured a whopping 420 across both innings.

Over in Australia, Israel Adesanya has put the UFC world on notice with a stunning and creative win over Anderson Silva, one of the greatest of all time. Don Rowe was there for The Spinoff, and analysed it as an exquisite example of fluid fighting. It was a very handy night for New Zealand fighters, and Auckland’s City Kickboxing gym in particular, with 3 wins from 3.

From our partners: Barbecuing is one of New Zealand’s national summer past-time, but what are the nuances in our barbecue culture? Brenda Talacek, Vector’s Group Manager for Gas Trading, lifts the lid.

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