Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis. (Photo credit FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Bulletin: No mega–prison, but what will Waikeria be?

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: The government has partly made up its mind on the mega–prison, Māori wards fall short in regional votes, and midwives say the budget boost was too little, too late.

The government has made a decision to not expand Wakeria Prison into a so–called mega–prison, but is yet to make a decision as to what to do instead, reports Stuff. The expansion plan, formulated by the last government, would have meant Waikeria could have held up to 3000 prisoners. However, many in Labour and the Greens are deeply opposed to increasing the prison muster. The decision was repeatedly delayed, likely because of that opposition.

Corrections minister Kelvin Davis made the confirmation, but it was seemingly already let loose by Māori development minister Nanaia Mahuta on TVNZ’s Marae (skip to 13.17) Mahuta said the government wasn’t going to spend a billion dollars expanding Waikeria, but then talked around what she meant by that under questioning from host Miriama Kamo. Labour’s plan announced in the budget for more prison space is to provide funding for 600 of what are effectively urgent pop up prison cells.

Why are Labour so keen to avoid expanding prisons? In the words of the last National Prime Minister Bill English, prisons are a “moral and fiscal failure.” And in the words of a recently released report from reform advocates Just Speak – reported by Radio NZ – prisons are “a very ineffective ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.” They don’t lead to good outcomes in rehabilitation, which means they ultimately don’t help make the community safer, says the report.


Multiple regions have voted against the creation of Māori wards, according to provisional results released over the weekend. Sun Live has reported on the results in Whakatāne and the Western Bay of Plenty, and Stuff has reported on the results from Palmerston North and Manawātu District. Results are binding.

In response, Whakatāne District Mayor Tony Bonne said he was “gutted” about the results, reports Radio NZ. He linked the proposal for Māori wards back to previous battles for representation:

“We’ve got some stick in the mud people with stick in the mud views. When the women’s vote came through there were many people in the world at that time that thought the whole world was going to collapse. Hello, the world has carried on even stronger than it was and it’ll be the same for Māori.”

The Greens are refusing to give up on Māori wards despite the losses, reports Newstalk ZB this morning. Marama Davidson says it’s wrong for a majority to be able to decide on representation for minorities. Waiariki MP Tāmati Coffey told Radio NZ he’s exploring other ways of getting more Māori representation on Whakatāne District Council. And Don Brash is thrilled with the outcome.


Midwives are quitting after a budget they say delivered too little, too late, reports the NZ Herald. There was funding delivered to help “catch up” to what midwives should be getting paid, but midwife organiser Anna Ramsey says it doesn’t come close to addressing rising costs of living. She says midwives take home less than what they could working at a supermarket, and the extreme long hours simply aren’t safe for either mothers or midwives.

The Herald also spoke to other midwives who were leaving the profession, painting a picture of widespread discontent.


There will be no income testing for buyers of Kiwibuild houses, reports the NZ Herald. Minister Phil Twyford said the criteria for buyers was still being developed, but they will be limited to permanent residents and first home buyers. Income testing has been used in the part on government housing schemes, such as the HomeStart programme.


Māori TV is facing a funding crisis if they don’t get more money soon, according to their CEO Keith Ikin. He was quoted by Waatea News as saying the current cash crunch was hindering their ability to provide mandated te reo programming. It’s a public broadcasting battle that has been largely ignored over the last couple of years, as the conversation has focused so heavily on funding for Radio NZ.

On that subject, broadcasting minister Clare Curran spoke to Radio NZ’s Mediawatch programme, to say that she still intends to deliver the full $38 million funding boost that was promised by Labour during the election campaign. On budget day, it turned out to be more like $15 million.


A rare piece of good news from the Christchurch red zone. The area will be used to house hundreds of thousands of bees, reports Radio NZ. Ten hives will be put in as part of a plan to get some commercial use out of the earthquake damaged land. It could also be an environmental boost. Bees are incredibly important for keeping everything in nature – and horticulture for that matter – ticking over.


Radio NZ have once again been forced to go to the Ombudsman to get Auckland Council to release information. This time, the information being sought was a report into a downtown stadium. Once again, the Ombudsman has ruled the Council were wrong to not release what should have been public information. And RNZ’s Todd Niall says on all three occasions that information has been withheld, mayor Phil Goff’s office has been involved.


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Right now on The Spinoff: Guest writer Chelle Fitzgerald has reminisced and traced the history of some of Dunedin’s notorious student pubs. Alice Webb–Liddall chatted to superstar scientist Dr Brian Cox about flat earthers, anti–vaxxers, and aliens. And here’s a Royal Wedding story other outlets are too scared to cover: Alex Casey talks to a woman who sold fake dog poo to Princess Diana.


This is a really good review and exploration of the issues identified in Brian Easton’s book Heke Tangata, by Kennedy Warne on e-Tangata. The book and review concern themselves with questions of the Māori economy, and the loss of land, resources and skills through said Māori economy being dismantled by settlers and colonists. Here’s an excerpt:

“The main challenge — besides being a minority in a dominant Pākēha urban culture — was that the newcomers lacked the specialised skills needed to enter a workforce defined by new types of employment and new forms of technology.

“What was required, and what was not provided, were training schemes to reskill and upskill the labour force in general, and the unemployed in particular,” Easton writes. But New Zealand had no tradition of providing quality training programmes.”


There’s quite a bit of sport to get through from over the weekend. So this section is a bit longer than usual, but we just want you to be fully prepared for the water cooler this morning.

New Zealand Super Rugby sides have been absolutely humiliated over the weekend. Well, no, not really, but the Waratahs have managed to break the long and embarrassing streak of Australian teams losing to New Zealand teams, tipping up the Highlanders  41-12. Stuff has a video of Highlanders winger Tevita Nabura earning probably the most idiotic red card of the decade, through kicking Waratah Cameron Clarke in the face. The Chiefs also lost to the Sharks over the weekend, and the Blues lost to the Crusaders, because of course they did.

Three new faces have joined the All Blacks ahead of their series against France next month. The NZ Herald has profiled Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Shannon Frizzel and Jordan Taufua, who could make their debuts. There was notably no room in the squad for lethal Hurricanes try–scorer Ben Lam, experienced lock Luke Romano, and specialist openside flanker Matt Todd. Sam Whitelock has been given the captaincy in the absence of Kieran Read, ahead of co–vice captains Ben Smith and Sam Cane.    

The second retirement of Abby Erceg has turned very messy, with concerns that players are not free to speak their mind about the culture within the Football Ferns squad. Stuff’s Liam Hyslop has a good column outlining the issues that have rumbled away over the weekend on that.

Chelsea have beaten Manchester United to claim to FA Cup, to salvage a season that has been frustrating for both the finalists. Neither were in any serious contention to win the English Premier League thanks to the runaway success of Manchester City, and neither made any serious progress in the Champions League. And locally, Team Wellington have qualified for the Club World Cup, after winning the Oceania Champions League, comfortably beating Fiji’s Lautoka FC 10–3 on aggregate.

And finally, very belated congratulations on the Royal Wedding. No, not Harry and Meghan, I mean White Ferns cricketing royalty Lea Tahuhu and Amy Satterthwaite, who have spoken publicly about their relationship for the first time to Stuff.


From our partners, Vector’s Karl Check analyses Australia’s progress when it comes to shifting away from coal and gas fired power plants and onto renewable energy sources.


That’s it for the The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, please forward it on and encourage them to sign up here. Thanks for joining us this morning, and keep coming back this week.


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