Image: The alleged Dunedin supermarket attacker being led away by police (Radio NZ)

The Bulletin: Bystanders praised after Dunedin stabbing attack

Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Bystanders praised after Dunedin stabbing attack, 500 managed isolation spots a fortnight to be opened, and East Coast endures harsh drought.

What is as yet believed to be a random stabbing attack has taken place in Dunedin. Details are still emerging about what happened – and more importantly why – but the initial reports from yesterday are that four people are in hospital with stab injuries, after the rampage in a supermarket. Two of the people in hospital are supermarket staff. These kinds of attacks are highly unusual in New Zealand, and at her afternoon press conference yesterday, the PM was quick to outline that there was no evidence to suggest it was a terrorist attack.

The response of ordinary people on the scene may have prevented more from being injured. The ODT reports comments from police that paint a picture of what happened before officers arrived. “What I can say is those who intervened, some of who became injured themselves, I think have acted selflessly and with great courage to prevent this man from harming anybody else,” said Southern District Commander Superintendent Paul Basham. Stuff spoke to a witness who described people stepping in with bottles, and even a chair, in an attempt to slow the man down.

The alleged attacker will appear in court today. He is likely to be charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm at a minimum, reports the ODT. He also reportedly sustained a minor injury during the incident. There have been suggestions reported on Radio NZ this morning that he may have been having a “psychotic episode” of some sort, but as previously said, a motive has not yet been established.


500 spots in managed isolation will be opened up every fortnight for workers, international students and refugees. Our live updates reports there is currently plenty of spare space into the next few months. Of those new places, some have already been allocated through previous government announcements, and this announcement largely fulfils an election promise to open 10% of spaces for workers. Interest has a breakdown of how the allocation will be made.

Meanwhile, the government has been accused of sitting for almost a week on information about when a positive case in April had last been tested. Newshub’s Tova O’Brien reports that the government knew that a test hadn’t taken place for months, despite the person being a border worker, but then obfuscated that information for six days. National’s Chris Bishop said it was “very deceptive”.


Large parts of the East Coast are currently enduring a serious and unseasonal drought. This feature from the NZ Herald’s Kurt Bayer is an excellent exploration of how that is hitting the rural world in particular, with rain not really falling since January, and it now being too late to grow enough grass to see out winter. Long term, climate change modelling shows the East Coast will be particularly vulnerable to more intense drought conditions. So it’s really not a matter of waiting and hoping for the next bit of rain to fall – at this stage it’s probably more about recognising that we’re seeing the start of dangerous new weather patterns.


Our members’ contributions provide jobs and hope to all the journalists, editors, designers, podcasters and freelancers who make The Spinoff every day. If you enjoy what we do and want to help us do more, please donate today.


Some of you got in touch yesterday to tell me the public sector pay freeze wasn’t actually that. The government agrees with you, reports Justin Giovannetti, and senior figures like the PM and Grant Robertson say the media misreported the issue. Justin’s piece analyses in detail the question of whether the word “freeze” is justified, and the wider point of whether any media reporting misled the public about the details of what had been announced. This criticism is not necessarily unusual – governments are always very keen to have their decisions presented in the best possible light by the media, and spin accordingly. But maybe they’re right to say it isn’t a freeze – as Radio NZ reports, the Post-Primary Teachers Association is warning that “in real terms, teachers will experience pay cuts,” and a freeze and a cut aren’t the same thing at all.


Donation figures from the 2020 election have been revealed. The NZ Herald reports that on large donations – those over $1500 that have to be declared – National took in the largest tally, with close to $3 million. However that was down on the 2017 figure of $4.6 million. Labour took in about $1.5 million, including some big five-figure union donations, while Act took in just over a million.


Some interesting comments from Australian PM Scott Morrison about that country’s border reopening: The ABC reports he has indicated that will only happen “when it is safe to do so”, and the Australian government’s budget has assumed closed borders until at least next year. Australia also intends to pursue further travel bubbles, outside of the existing one with New Zealand. The guidance from the New Zealand government is likely to be pretty similar when the budget gets released next week.


Cool job alert: One of the best journalistic internships in the country is back. The successful candidate will work at The Spinoff for six months, get paid a living wage, and learn the trade from some of the best in the business. If this sounds like you, or someone you know, check out the job listing. Applications close May 30, and is open to anyone who hasn’t yet got their foot in the door at a major media company.


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

Thousands of Scottish independence supporters march through Glasgow during an All Under One Banner march on January 11, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland (Photo by Ewan Bootman/NurPhoto)

Right now on The Spinoff: Leonie Hayden writes about the re-traumatisation that sexual harm survivors can suffer from cervical screening, and a new programme which might help prevent that. Former Glaswegian Sarah Paterson-Hamlin writes about the possibility of Scottish independence. Sam Bookman questions why New Zealand isn’t part of a UN push towards recognising the right to a safe environment. Chloe Blades reviews a travel memoir about a pilgrimage, and invites us to share in her own. And for those who are into the hottest new poetry, a new poem by Hera Lindsay Bird has just dropped.


For a feature today, a stark examination of the economic looting rich countries have subjected poor countries to. Writing on Al-Jazeera, a trio of academics have started their analysis in 1960, as that was in general terms when many former colonies gained independence. And the analysis puts the dubious value of international aid into context. Here’s an excerpt:

Over the whole period from 1960 to today, the drain totalled $62 trillion in real terms. If this value had been retained by the South and contributed to Southern growth, tracking with the South’s growth rates over this period, it would be worth $152 trillion today.

These are extraordinary sums. For the global North (and here we mean the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan, Korea, and the rich economies of Europe), the gains are so large that, for the past couple of decades, they have outstripped the rate of economic growth. In other words, net growth in the North relies on appropriation from the rest of the world.

For the South, the losses outstrip foreign aid transfers by a wide margin. For every dollar of aid the South receives, they lose $14 in drain through unequal exchange alone, not counting other kinds of losses like illicit financial outflows and profit repatriation. Of course, the ratio varies by country – higher for some than others – but in all cases, the discourse of aid obscures a darker reality of plunder. Poor countries are developing rich countries, not the other way around.


The Football Ferns squad for the Olympics is starting to take shape, and it could be a fairly strong one. Stuff’s Andrew Voerman has cast his eye over who is in the mix. The big challenge for coach Tom Sermanni is around not having a lot of access to international quality players, who have largely spent the year with clubs. Incidentally, the Football Ferns last played together on March 10 2020, and a day later the final of the exhibition tournament they were playing in got cancelled due to Covid.


That’s it for The Bulletin. If you want to support the work we do at The Spinoff, please check out our membership programme.




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