Rua Kēnana

The Bulletin: A day of proving the point of NZ history education

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Examples of why teaching history matters immediately emerge, accused Labour staffer resigns, and giant of Tongan democracy dies. 

In the space of a day, there were two examples that clearly showed why New Zealand’s history needs to be taught in schools. In case you missed it, we published a cheat sheet on what has been announced, with New Zealand’s Māori, colonial and modern history to become a compulsory school subject from 2022. The announcement of the new expectations on schools has been widely welcomed, including by the NZEI, National leader Simon Bridges, and iwi leaders.

The first example concerned the introduction of legislation to pardon Rua Kēnana of Tūhoe, reported on by Radio NZ. The prophet and pacifist was brutally persecuted by the government in the 1910s, including having his son killed in a raid. Those events have had a huge influence on the course of the relationship between Tūhoe and the Crown ever since. It would have been instantly recognisable to those who knew the history, in the police raids made into Urewera communities in 2007. And yet it is only now that this redress is being made.

And the second example pertains to a pernicious myth that has been passed down in place of actual history. In fact, as Don Rowe reported yesterday for The Spinoff, the myth of the Moriori arriving in Aotearoa before Māori has spread so far, it even ended up in the set of prominent American comedian Jim Gaffigan. He subsequently apologised, and as if to underline the point, said “I honestly thought that was the universal belief. I was simply repeating what I was told.” That very myth has long been a powerful piece of misinformation used to justify the historic oppression of Māori, and has actively contributed to making New Zealand less well informed about itself.

The point is, history matters. And it continues to matter long after those who experienced it are gone. It can only be a good thing for this country that it becomes part of everyone’s education.


The Labour staffer accused of sexual assault has resigned, in a statement provided through his lawyer, reports Stuff. He continues to “adamantly refute the serious allegations” and says he is co-operating fully with the inquiry, however is resigning “because of the stress of the situation, and my wish not to be a distraction to the work of the Government.” It follows the PM saying she had been taking advice on his continued employment with the party. And another report from Stuff – the Labour Council was warned two years ago of a “troubling culture of bullying, and of sexual harassment and assault.


Tonga’s prime minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva has died. He was a leading figure in the Kingdom’s pro-democracy movement, and was beloved by the people, who made him the country’s longest serving representative. He went to prison for his convictions, but persevered nonetheless throughout every setback in a remarkable life, which has been chronicled in an obituary by Keith Locke. May he rest in peace.


Farmers have been turning out in big numbers to angry consultation meetings on government freshwater plans. The Southland Times reported on one in Winton, at which there was heavy opposition to both the duration of the consultation, and the proposals themselves. The report indicates that many left at the end, feeling like the consultation had been “a sham.”


National is refusing to back down from an ad labelled confusing and deceptive by the Advertising Standards Authority, reports Radio NZ. It related to some stuff put out about the government’s electric car feebate scheme. The verdict isn’t binding, because the ASA isn’t an entity with legal powers.


Beer industry figures are warning the glut of new craft beer brands cannot be sustained, reports the NBR (paywalled.) Partly that’s because of customer appetites, which are at the moment tending towards novelty. But if that bubble bursts, a lot of new breweries will be left high and dry.


This is a good read on the importance of Kōhanga Reo, by Sophie Bateman at Newshub. Outside of the obvious language differences, there are various ways in which that system differs from the mainstream education, and some believe the latter could learn more from the former.   


The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed, free daily curated digest of all the most important stories from around New Zealand delivered directly to your inbox each morning.

Sign up now



Right now on The Spinoff: Danyl Mclaughlan writes about the inadequacy of current systems used to deal with sexual assault allegations. Zoe Mills asked Hong Kong New Zealanders what they wanted to say to those back home, as they fight on to protect their civil liberties. Jihee Junn looks at the trademarking of pieces of indigenous culture by Western brands. Johnny Crawford and Lee Belk have put together a guide to passive-aggressive te reo phrases you can use around the office. Josie Adams went to Great Barrier Island to find out why it has the highest local election voter turnout in Auckland. And with everyone in Wellington trying to get elected on a ‘fix the buses’ platform, I ask how possible that will actually be.


For a feature today, a really honest and brave piece of self reflection, on a so-called “personal and professional growth, training and development” introduction session. Writing in Noted, Sasha Borissenko has related her story of going to a Landmark course, and coming away both out of pocket, and feeling more bereft. The piece raises important questions about whether these sorts of courses are ethical. Here’s an excerpt:

Join us and contribute
to our journalism!
Find Out More

But it was worrying that vulnerable people were sharing these stories in a place where none of the people in authority had any specific training. Landmark mightn’t market itself as a mental health programme of any nature, but it sure as hell deals with people who’ve had traumatic experiences. I would say it would be virtually impossible to have a breakthrough of sorts without drawing on a distressing experience.

For every instance of sexual assault or extreme bullying I heard, I wondered whether it had a triggering effect on the audience members. Saying this, if you could relate to the trauma that was being described on the stage, you could equally transform, or so the Landmark theory goes.


A domestic rugby update to take you into the weekend: Hawke’s Bay continue to be unbeaten in the Mitre-10 Cup, with Stuff reporting it takes them well clear at the top of the Championship. Meanwhile in the Farah Cup, there could be significant early movement this weekend, with Wellington hosting Counties Manukau – 4th and 2nd in the Premiership respectively – and a loss for either likely to be damaging over the short season.


That’s it for The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, pass on this signup form to them. And if you want to support the work we do at The Spinoff, please check out our membership programme.


The Bulletin is made possible by Z Energy, proudly supporting local news that matters.

 Check out how they’re delivering New Zealand an alternative fuel future.


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