An armed police officer making an arrest in Hamilton (Image via youtube/Radio NZ)

The Bulletin: Armed police arrest raises alarm

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Armed police arrest raises alarm, report makes strong call for Auckland port to go north, and a battle is going on among Fonterra shareholders.

Serious concerns have been raised about the trial of armed police officers, after a team arrested an alleged non-violent offender over the weekend, reports Jordan Bond for Radio NZ. It took place in Hamilton, one of three locations where the trial is taking place. A witness to the arrest described it as terrifying that armed police were being used for normal police work.

Police say the operating environment they work in has changed, making firearms more necessary. In this instance, police say the man who was arrested was known to carry firearms, though there were no gun charges issued. But in more general terms, they say officers are now more at risk than ever from the possibility of encountering armed offenders.

Critics say this is mission creep, and without having any sort of public debate about it, we now have a de-facto armed police force. Protests happened at the start of the month against the trial, reports Stuff, with opponents saying that it put Māori and Pasifika people particularly at risk. Former officer Tim McKinnell says fears of racist outcomes are well founded, and that the trial sets a dangerous precedent.

Meanwhile the government has forged ahead with sweeping new powers against gun ownership for violent offenders, reports the NZ Herald. Firearms Prohibition Orders, or FPOs, would bar those with a “history of violent offending, gun crimes or family harm” from “having firearms, being in a home that has firearms, or being in the company of people with firearms.” Police powers to search a property – with or without a warrant – could also increase. Feedback is currently being sought from the public on it.


Auckland’s port appears destined to move north, if the final report of a working group into the matter is followed. One News reports such a move could cost around $10 billion, and would be the largest infrastructure project in New Zealand’s history, including the road and rail upgrades that would come with it. Working Group Chair Wayne Brown spoke to Q+A last night, saying that Auckland’s Port was paying very low returns to the Council given the value of the land it sat on, and it contributed to inner city congestion.


There’s a battle going on around a review into the Fonterra Shareholders Council, reports Andrea Fox for the NZ Herald (paywalled.) The Council is under scrutiny from certain shareholders, and has promised to review itself – though won’t give details around how that will happen. That’s in contrast to the critics, who say it should be an independent process. The concern is basically that the Council hasn’t done enough to protect the income of cooperative members.


A few excellent pieces if you want to read more about the recent stoush over partnership visas, and changes to the immigration system. On the politics of it all, One News’ John Armstrong says PM Ardern managed to trap and humiliate NZ First by pulling the rug out from under them – an interesting take on coalition dynamics that are typically understood to favour NZ First MPs being able to speak with impunity.

On Newsroom, Bernard Hickey has absolutely unloaded on both parties for how they’ve played the political game. Because as he argues, the government is already presiding over an immigration system that is rigged against migrants. “We have become the Dubai of the South Pacific where we treat migrants as second-class or non-citizens, allow them to be exploited, and then throw them away when we’re done with them.”

And on the issue of arranged marriages themselves, which was the context for a lot of the outrage, there are two pieces to note. National MP Dr Parmjeet Parmar has spoken to Stuff about her own positive experience of the practice. And if you haven’t already read it, here’s Josephine Varghese busting myths about what it does and doesn’t entail.


Dozens of Auckland beaches have had high risk warnings put on them after the heavy rain, reports the NZ Herald. That included a ‘black alert’ for Castor Bay, which was contaminated with wastewater. As always, before you swim at the beaches around this city, make sure you check SafeSwim first.


Fire and Emergency are warning of increased risk in the coming summer. Radio NZ reports the warnings are not on the scale of that currently being seen in Australia, but regardless a hotter than average summer is expected. Out of control fires in Australia are typically caused by lightning, but here it is human misadventure that poses the biggest danger.


Bolivian President and indigenous socialist leader Evo Morales has stepped down in dramatic circumstances. It is not clear if Morales, who had previously enjoyed significant popular support but recently has faced large protests over accusations of election irregularities, will take part in the next election. Morales was ‘asked’ to leave office by the military, in a move he has denounced as a coup. In terms of regional reaction around South America, it has largely played out along ideological lines – fellow leftists have continued to express support for Morales, while the right wing Bolsonaro government in Brazil has welcomed his departure. Here’s a report from the Associated Press about what could happen next, that takes in multiple perspectives.


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

Vernon Tava is taking aim at Green co-leader James Shaw.

Right now on The Spinoff: Massey University provost Giselle Byrnes discusses academic freedom and hate speech, at a time when the university has been under significant pressure over the matter. David Hall discusses the Christchurch Principles, which aims to reduce harmful online content, presented yesterday to the Paris Peace Forum. Jenny Coatham explains how Generation Zero got the Zero Carbon bill off the ground. I have some thoughts about where Sustainable NZ will (or won’t) fit into New Zealand’s politics. Alex Stronach wades into the world of competing hacking conventions. Amy Brown writes about how the first months of motherhood blasted her writing life, and then inspired it. And a few of our writers went to the new Taco Bell, a symbol of America coming to West Auckland.


For a feature today, a look into the effect breakfast television can have on public debates. Ben Jenkins of  blog The Idiot Report (wonderful name, would love to borrow it sometimes) used to have a job that required him to obsessively watch hours of breakfast TV for days on end. And it almost destroyed him. Here’s an excerpt that explains why:

As a result, a team of people – a far smaller and younger team of people than you probably imagine – have to shovel content into the maw of this monster that eats time so that it’ll lumber from one ad break to the next over the course of 180 minutes, every morning, every day, every week until the sun graciously explodes and we all get to go home. By far the cheapest and easiest and most reliable fuel to keep this train chugging along is asking, over and over and over again, What do we reckon? 

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Because if you take away the part of breakfast television where the hosts and pundits and experts and everyday people tell you what their opinion is on any given subject, then you’re left with around fifteen minutes of news, sport and an intern in a cow suit giving money to a bewildered pensioner. So you fill it with the cheapest, the easiest and the most accessible content available – opinion.


The Auckland Tuatara are coming up to the start of their second season in the Australian Baseball League.Newshub reports they’ve rounded out their squad with a highly regarded young catcher, 20 year old Jonny Homza, who comes to them from Alaska via the San Diego Padres development team. The start of the season is something of a milestone for the Tuatara, who will now be playing at North Harbour Stadium, a big upgrade on their previous park.

Another update in the various shakings around sporting rights for TV – Sky has got the Commonwealth Games, reports Stuff. It keeps the whole programme for those big international multi-sport events with Sky, who will also make some coverage available free to air on Prime. And while they’re short windows, they get huge audience shares.


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


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