Some of the various winners of mayoral races around the country (Image sources: Radio NZ, Getty Images, Supplied)

The Bulletin: Key analysis from local elections 

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Analysis that hits the mark after a big weekend of local elections, new party poll released, and Dunedinites turn out to clean up in honour of killed student.

By now, you probably know whether or not you have a new local representative. If not, you might have to google it, or search through our live blog from the weekend to see if your area comes up. Either way, there were some surprising results and margins, and the question now on both a local level and national level is pretty simple – what does it all mean?

Here are a few pieces that have a crack at answering that. First of all, our glorious local elections editor Hayden Donnell went through and picked out his winners and losers (and gigantic losers too.) Among the more general points made was that it was a pretty good election for incumbents. That’s how the vast majority of mayoral races with an incumbent ended up playing out. It was also a pretty good election for younger candidates – there are always a few who get elected, but in Wellington and Christchurch especially quite a few made it onto Council.

The mention of Wellington is probably the most obvious counter-example to the incumbency effect. There Justin Lester got knocked out by Andy Foster (who? read thischeat sheet) in what has to be considered a surprise upset. There are a few major areas that could have implications, and one of them is unpacked excellently by the NZ Herald’s (paywalled) Georgina Campbell, around the Let’s Get Wellington Moving transport package. The new mayor indicated he’d like to renegotiate parts of it, and so central government might now be feeling a bit nervous about having to go back to the drawing board. Other races in the region which saw mayoral swings – Hutt City and Porirua, are covered here in the Dominion Post.

In Auckland, it was a lot more clear cut at the top. But as Stuff’s Todd Niall writes, Phil Goff could face an equally challenging term with the possibility of a hung council on a fair few issues. For those who watch these things closely, it’s well worth keeping an eye on the final count in Waitematā, and whether City Vision’s Pippa Coom will retain her slender lead over regular Goff opponent Mike Lee. On what Goff plans to do next with his mandate, Simon Wilson in the NZ Herald (paywalled) has a comprehensive interview. As for John Tamihere, Newsroom’s Tim Murphy is pretty unequivocal – he constantly veered away from the key themes of his campaign and in the end got thrashed.

In terms of reading about what happened in other parts of the country, I’d recommend going to the Radio NZ section landing page and start scrolling. There’s a few of the more fun and colourful stories from the end of the campaign sprinkled through their strong straight news coverage. Finally, the Policy Local site is still up, so for whoever did get elected, if they said what they intended to do there it’ll be easy to go back and compare it to what they actually do later on.

Finally, I’d like to close out this section with something of a plug. Along with Hayden, a few of us at The Spinoff (big shout out to Josie Adams and Alice Webb-Liddall) really threw ourselves into local election coverage. Over the last month it has been among themost popular sections on the site, and it feels like some of our stories really resonated with people. All of it was funded by The Spinoff Members, and we’re hugely grateful for that support. But there’s a lot more journalism we’d like to do with that funding, so if you want to read more like it, please consider helping us out.


A new poll is out, and it reveals a classic example of taking polls as single data points within wider long term trends. The Newshub survey shows a huge drop for Labour from the last Newshub poll, but that one is widely considered to have over-estimated their support. National is the largest party in the poll, with the Greens above the 5% threshold and NZ First below it, so those aspects largely conform to other polls this year. ACT are showing signs of life, and TOP and the Māori Party are surviving.


Dunedinites have turned out in their thousands for a street clean up in memory of student Sophia Crestani, reports the ODT. Crestani was tragically crushed to death at a student party that got out of control, and her parents expressed a wish that students should honour her by participating in the clean up. At least 12 skips were filled with rubbish dumped around the city.


The union for radiographers is alleging that the Counties Manukau DHB illegally broke a strike by putting medical students to work, reports Stuff. It says the DHB broke the Employment Relations Act in the process. The DHB “strongly disagrees” with the allegation, saying the students weren’t doing anything outside of what their duties would normally have been.


The average price of rentals has actually gone down in the last quarter, reportsInterest. It was especially pronounced in Auckland, with dips across almost every part of the region. However, don’t get too excited about the prospect of paying less – it’s likely just be because of seasonal variation, and overall for the year rental prices are up nationwide.


The Māori Party have lined up their first confirmed candidate for the 2020 election, in which the seven Māori electorates will be crucial. The NZ Herald reports it’s iwi leader and campaigner against seabed mining Debbie Ngarewa-Packer. She’ll run in Te Tai Hauāuru, currently held by Labour’s Adrian Rurawhe. It’s a signal that the Māori Party really is going to have a serious crack at 2020, though it isn’t yet known who will stand for them in the other Māori seats.


A bit of housekeeping: I won’t actually be writing tomorrow’s Bulletin. I’ll be travelling instead and will probably be around Huntly when it gets sent out. But don’t worry, I’ll be back on Wednesday. And the guest writer we’ve got filling in tomorrow is pretty handy, so I’m looking forward to reading it.


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Stephen Colbert and Jacinda Ardern in Morningside, Auckland. Photo: Toby Manhire / The Spinoff

Right now on The Spinoff: Greta Yeoman asks politicians who voted no on marriage equality whether they’d change that stance now. Renu Sikka writes about the place Diwali will always hold in her heart. Sam Brooks makes a call on why he reckons Jennifer Lopez is so underrated, and deserves an Oscar. Uther Dean writes about the lost lustre of Breaking Bad as TV watching patterns change. And Toby Manhire got a big scoop on Friday that comedian Stephen Colbert was in the country, by looking out the window and seeing him there with the PM.


For a feature today, a review of a book where both the author and the reviewer are deeply well versed in the subject matter. Writing in Metro, political commentator Ben Thomas has cast his eye over a new work by political marketing academic Dr Claire Robinson. The review is thoughtful in a way that makes you want to learn more about the topic. Here’s an excerpt:

Even seemingly concrete issues are often little more than symbolic shorthand. A National campaign booklet in 1949 lambasted the Labour government for spending taxpayer money on “super-duper cars for Ministers” — a signifier for extravagance and aloofness that has persisted for seven decades without any noticeable diminution in the quality of Crown transport once outraged oppositions reach government.

Visual language can be decoded, but it cannot be reasoned or argued with, or interrogated and made to give up the truth. The same goes for graphs and the ubiquitous use of statistics in isolation. A 1954 National pamphlet proclaims, among a raft of figures about increased production of nylon stockings, cement and cigarettes (!), that “statistics culled at random tell a story of prosperity that nothing can gainsay”. In 2017, we have the Treasury’s wellbeing measures, from the 1970s we had OECD rankings, and in 1951, we had boasts about the number of lamb carcasses eaten by New Zealanders each year.

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It’s a big old sports section today. We start with a record being broken (sort of) in one of the world’s oldest athletic disciplines – the marathon. Eliud Kipchoge has run the first ever marathon in under two hours, reports Stuff. It’s an incredible feat, but won’t count as an official record because it wasn’t accomplished under race conditions.

The Silver Ferns are absolutely on fire right now. Radio NZ reports they’ve taken down Australia again, this time in the opening match of the Constellation Cup. It was a narrow one point win, and took an absolutely hearty 4th quarter surge to make happen. But then again, if a year ago you said the Silver Ferns would notch up consecutive wins against the Diamonds, people would have scoffed.

And in the Rugby World Cup, Japan have made it into the quarterfinals on pure merit. There had been some suggestions that their crucial clash against Scotland might be cancelled along with several other games, because of the deadly typhoon hitting the country. The petulant Scots threatened to sue if it was called off. So Japan went out there and beat them fair and square, bringing home a 28-21 victory. They’ll now face South Africa in the quarters, and honestly, who would bet against them on current form? When Ireland beat the All Blacks in their quarterfinal, I’ll definitely be switching my support to Japan.


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.


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