(File photo – Radio NZ)

The Bulletin: Migrant workers stuck on illegal contracts

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Contracts signed by Filipino migrant workers have illegal anti–union clause, voters stream away from Māori roll, and the government considers an inquiry into forced adoptions.

Filipino migrant workers have been jibbed out of jobs in construction,Newshub investigation has found. Dozens of illegal contracts, which promised work but delivered little, may have been signed off by Immigration NZ – the government is looking into that. Their employment is on hold because of project delays. The investigation has also put labour hire firm Allied Workforce in hot water, after contracts signed by workers were found to have an illegal anti–union clause.

In a seperate Newshub story, the same Newshub journalist Michael Morrah wrote about their overcrowded living conditions – 24 men in a four bedroom house. The workers are being paid a minimum of 30 hours a week, but have significant costs they’re required to repay, such as rent and tool hire. They’re unable to send money home, and sometimes end up fishing to eat.

One of the workers told Radio NZ he was told he would have to pay a $5000 fine, or be deported, if he left to find a different job. FIRST Union are providing him with legal advice. AWF are disputing the allegations. Chief executive Simon Bennett says the timing of the contract doesn’t line up, and that no such ultimatums regarding fines or deportation were made.


Māori TV have reported on the stream of voters away from the Māori roll. Māori development minister Nanaia Mahuta says it’s concerning, but Winston Peters says Māori are getting good representation under MMP on the general roll. It’s another battle for the two, who have recently clashed over compulsory te reo in schools. If you need to catch up on the window for choosing which roll to be on, Ātea editor Leonie Hayden wrote this cheat sheet for The Spinoff.


The government is considering an inquiry into forced adoptions during the 1950s through to the 70s, reports the NZ Herald. At the time, there was significant stigma against unmarried women raising children, and an unknown number of babies were adopted out to married couples. The exclusive story leads the paper this morning.


Newsroom have reported on new RBNZ governor Adrian Orr’s first official cash rate announcement – unchanged at 1.75%. A significant new feature of the RBNZ’s role is to try and maximise stable employment, under the measurements being used the economy is currently performing well, with job growth outpacing labour force growth.


The Nelson Mail has looked into the flow of funds between Tasman District and Nelson City, and found that it appears to be mostly one way traffic. They’re questioning whether the Tasman District is getting a fair deal on their front page today.


This story was originally given the rather eye–catching landing page headline on StuffGoff’s Council sells Key’s golf course. It’s almost technically true, and a lot of fun to imagine a meeting in which it’s discussed, but the more accurate version of the story is that 2.8 hectares leased by Council to the Remuera Golf Club will be sold to build up to 100 houses. The land itself is across the road from the golf course. Mayor Goff has long railed against the use of valuable Auckland land for golf, when more houses are needed.


This is a cunning piece of investigative work from Stuff’s Dana Johannsen, who tested how many opportunities for girls to play rugby, cricket and football there really are. She invented a fictitious 11 year old daughter and phoned sports organisations up and down the country to try and get her girl a game. As it turns out, despite the rumours of it’s demise, netball remains the only sport that girls of any age can play anywhere in the country.


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Right now on The Spinoff: Toby Morris has a handy guide to five types to avoid on public transport. Glen Herud from Happy Cow Milk has gone on the Business is Boring podcast, to discuss why his attempt to build a sustainable, ethical dairy company failed. And is free Supergold card travel on the Waiheke Ferry a rort? Duncan Greive says yes.


And now, a guest post from The Spinoff’s business editor Rebecca Stevenson, on two major financial stories in local tech.

Maybe the tentative headline should have given us a clue? Unlike shiny-ball bearing technology entrepreneur Peter Beck’s out-of-this-world marketing, wearable tech firm Stretchsense heralded its offshore buy in thusly; Japanese e–commerce portal Start Today considers whether Stretchsense fits.

In the end that was a negative, with the stretchy, wearable tech company announcing this week the deal with Japan’s largest online retailer had failed to take shape and an enormous 140 jobs had been shed. The University of Auckland-spawned startup had grown dramatically, and it appeared with a deal valuation of $120 million that the company was on its way to securing commercial use of its sensors through the Zozo Suit.

It appears a rival has scooped Smart Today’s business and shows the brittle nature of new technology. Who’s to say your’s will win the day? Or weeks and months? Scaling is always hard; on the upside the company says its now further along in developing its technology and has some experience with building scale. This deal may have failed but the tech remains, as does the challenge of getting it to market.

At the other end of the startup cycle is cloud accounting company Xero.

Founder Rod Drury has now passed over the reigns to Aussie Steve Vamos. The now ASX-listed accounting software and eco-system host announced a $27.8 million loss yesterday, but it was good news compared with the $69m loss in the previous financial year – and total operating revenue was up 38% to just over $406m.

Xero has achieved 47% subscriber growth to accumulate 312,000 subscribers (adding 100,000 in the period) in the UK and this market is now Xero’s second-biggest, behind only Australia. It’s still a Kiwi company though eh? “Cloud accounting market leadership in established markets of Australia and New Zealand continued with region subscriber growth of 28% to 884,000 and revenue growth of 33%”. They. Lumped. Us. Together. In the press release! How could you Xero?

Xero subscribers now total 1.386 million at 31 March 2018. But how is it going in that critical US market? It “continued to make headway in North America”, adding 40,000 subscribers (up 43%) to 132,000 subscribers. Revenue growth of 28%, but the headwinds could be strong; its US rival Intuit will announce their results on May 22.


In sport, Hurricanes captain Brad Shields has been released by NZ Rugby, and immediately selected by England for their test series against South Africa. There had previously been eligibility wrangles over Shields, who will join English team Wasps after Super Rugby. English coach Eddie Jones defended the selection, with Rugby Pass reported he described Shields as gritty, hard working, and playing for “the best team in the Southern hemisphere.” Which, as an ex–Wellingtonian, just comes across as an astonishing description of the Hurricanes.

And Ireland will play their first ever cricket test tonight, against Pakistan in Dublin. It’s been a long time coming for the Irish, and for many of their so–called golden generation, it will be near the tail end of their careers, reports ESPN Cricinfo. The pitch is expected to offer bowlers plenty of seam and nibble, and both sides will be going in with strong pace attacks. One way or the other, it’s hard to see this test going for all five days.


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.


And finally, the Radio Awards were held last night. Radio NZ was a new entrant having never previously put forward nominations. They swept up all the finalist spots in a few categories: journalist, daily or weekly feature, podcast and documentary among them, along with other wins and finalists. The competition is better for having them.

Mai FM won network station of the year, and are currently enjoying storming ratings among young people, particularly in Auckland. 1XX, a very good local station in Whakatāne, won station of the year for non–surveyed markets. More FM‘s omnipresence in Christchurch won them station of the year for a single market.

Until very recently, I was at Newstalk ZB, and there were a few big awards won by my former station that I’d like to make mention of. Mike Hosking and Emily Winstanley won the categories that are basically talk host and producer of the year. Niva Retimanu was – as ever – the best newsreader of the year. Jason Winstanley and Nadia Tolich were named content directors of the year. And Marcus Lush won the suitably named; best talk presenter – other.

One in particular I was thrilled to see. Peter Everett was on the list of awards for services to broadcasting. Pete has been with Newstalk ZB for decades, done everything through different eras and names. He’s the kaumātua of the station, and a candidate for the kindest person in radio. It’s a wonderfully deserved recognition.

Best of luck to everyone in the Voyagers tonight.


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.


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