Pacific People's minister Aupito William Sio (Radio NZ, Dom Thomas)

The Bulletin: An apology decades in the making

Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: An apology decades in the making, spy boss calls for public debate on digital surveillance, and why new cars are so expensive in New Zealand.

The government will make a formal apology for the “Dawn Raid” policies of the 1970s, which harshly targeted Pasifika people. PM Jacinda Ardern said the apology will be made at a formal event at the Auckland Town Hall on June 26. This Radio NZ story quoted Ardern setting out the specific harms caused during the era, and said “an apology can never reverse what happened or undo the decades of disadvantage experienced as a result, but it can contribute to healing the Pacific peoples in Aotearoa”. Two previous apologies of this nature have been made, to the Chinese community for the racist “poll tax”, and to Sāmoa for injustices during the period of colonial administration by New Zealand.

The human toll of the policy was thrown into sharp relief in this story, by One News. Savelio Ikani Pailate, 93, described being chased from his home by police dogs, and being deported anyway. Pacific People’s Minister Aupito William Sio was emotional during the announcement, saying the raids and associated police and immigration was disrespectful, racist and traumatising. Writing on The Spinoff Dr Melani Anae, who joined the Polynesian Panthers in 1971, covered the anger and action provoked by both the Dawn Raids and wider discrimination. It is not yet known what if any actions will accompany the apology.

Why is an apology necessary? What is the point of it after all these years? I’m open to people sending disagreements in the feedback from whatever perspective, but in my view an apology is warranted, and meaningful because of how it reframes the events in question. Apologies are a significant part of Treaty of Waitangi settlements, because they serve as a direct acknowledgement of Crown wrongdoing against specific iwi – I’d recommend you read E-Tangata on the complexities of that, and why an apology alone isn’t sufficient. But saying sorry for the Dawn Raids would make it clear the state now understands it was morally wrong for the government and police to target an ethnic minority.


SIS chief spy Rebecca Kitteridge has said the public must debate the line between digital privacy and security, in an interview with Stuff’s Thomas Manch. A review of some spying legislation will be taking place later this year, which could result in organisations like the SIS being given more surveillance powers. Kitteridge said at present, the security services are not legally allowed to conduct mass digital surveillance on the public, meaning – according to Kitteridge at least – they are less likely to stop or uncover terror threats before anything happens.


Since the clean vehicle subsidy scheme was announced, one question has gone somewhat unanswered – why are new cars so massively expensive in New Zealand in the first place? As Justin Giovannetti reports, it isn’t just distance, but more a function of the complicated process by which cars are produced and distributed. And it seems likely that manufacturers will price in the subsidy in their sales to New Zealand.


A paid message from our partners at NZ Post: In the second part of our partnership with NZ Post, Russell Brown speaks to a few of the organisation’s decision makers about 2020 and the future.


There might be little new in the practice, but Labour has been holding fundraisers in which businesspeople can pay to discuss ideas with ministers. Politik (paywalled) reports the latest round of this cash for access game – this one called the “Labour Party Business Conference” – has a price tag of $1795 for a ticket. Speakers include PM Ardern and other senior ministers, but they are instead billed as party spokespeople, so their involvement in the fundraiser doesn’t break any rules. A similar story broke in 2018, when Stuff’s Hamish Rutherford reported that the dinner with senior Labour MPs cost only $600 – a bargain by comparison. That story noted similarities between what Labour was doing, and the “Cabinet Club” run by the previous National government.


Workforce shortages could seriously hold back vital construction and infrastructure projects. Radio NZ’s Harry Lock reports that around the country there is an estimated shortfall of 65,000 workers, with some regions like Wellington, Tasman and Otago in particular way behind where they need to be. It comes at a time when billions are being thrown around like loose change on major developments, but it’s highly likely the worker shortage will mean higher pay for those in a position to capitalise, and correspondingly higher project costs. Meanwhile in a somewhat related story, Business Desk (paywalled) reports that manufacturing activity is expanding, but supply side issues like “freight costs, shipping, labour, and project delays” are putting the brakes on.


A fun* interactive graphic to play around with: The NZ Herald’s (paywalled) Chris Mcdowall and Anne Gibson have put together a piece which tracks how expensive renting has become in New Zealand’s major real estate markets over the last two decades. The visual communication of it – with the spread of red out from city centres as more suburbs top out at new average highs – is a particularly effective way of telling that story.

*Note – not remotely fun if you’re a renter.


In world news, the premiership of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has come to an end, but bitterness at the heart of Israeli politics is likely to continue. The Jerusalem Post reports a new government has been sworn in under PM Naftali Bennett, who will lead an extraordinarily wide coalition of parties in the Knesset, despite his own party only controlling a small share of MKs. Bennett will share power in a rotation with Yair Lapid, who will be foreign minister in the meantime. The ceremony included heckling from parliamentarians who are now in opposition, which this Jerusalem Post analysis piece argues is symptomatic of the divisive style of politics pursued by Netanyahu.


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

The front page of the Herald on Sunday, February 7, 2010 (Image: Tina Tiller)

Right now on The Spinoff: Kirsty Wild writes about the dangerous and derogatory language used about cyclists, and how it reflects power dynamics with drivers. Toby Manhire reviews an error-riddled new book about Jacinda Ardern, which the PM says she was misled about the interview for. Our latest 10×100 poll looks at what people think about gossip and celebs. And Alice Webb-Liddall speaks to Alison Mau about how the paparazzi used to stalk her around, and how being outed by the press shaped her as a journalist.


For a feature today, a look at some of the big questions about the future of tech workplaces, seen through the lens of one giant company. The Verge has reported on discontent about returning to the office at Apple, and staying remote instead. It’s significant because Apple are something of a standard-setter in the industry, and the dispute could be highly influential. Here’s an excerpt:

For some Apple workers, the current policy doesn’t go far enough, and shows a clear divide between how Apple executives and employees view remote work.

“Over the last year we often felt not just unheard, but at times actively ignored,” the letter says. “Messages like, ‘we know many of you are eager to reconnect in person with your colleagues back in the office,’ with no messaging acknowledging that there are directly contradictory feelings amongst us feels dismissive and invalidating…It feels like there is a disconnect between how the executive team thinks about remote / location-flexible work and the lived experiences of many of Apple’s employees.”

The letter, addressed to Tim Cook, started in a Slack channel for “remote work advocates” which has roughly 2,800 members. About 80 people were involved in writing and editing the note.


In sport, the Tokyo Olympics are looking increasingly unstoppable – not in terms of momentum, but more like they literally can’t be stopped. Despite widespread local public opposition and Covid concerns, any sort of cancellation at this stage now looks impossible. On Business Desk (paywalled) Brian Gaynor sets out some of the staggering sunk costs, and the comparatively meagre insurance that would be paid out if the games don’t go ahead.

And we’ve got a podcast for you. The Offspin is back for another episode with returning champion Sonia Gray, to celebrate a test series win not seen since the 90s. Later on this week we’ll be doing daily podcasts about each morning of the game being played overnight, so subscribe now to get our increasingly disjointed analysis of the World Test Championship final.


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