From left: New Conservative deputy leader Elliot Ikilei, Destiny Church's Bishop Brian Tamaki, and National MP Alfred Ngaro (Images: Facebook and Getty Images)

The Bulletin: Christian and Conservative party field gets crowded

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Brian Tamaki announces launch of Destiny party, whopping share of PGF money going to govt departments, and Auckland Harbour Bridge bike plans released.

Christian political parties are like Wellington buses – you wait for ages and then two turn up at the same time. Bishop Brian Tamaki has confirmed he too will be launching a political party, reports One News. It follows months of high profile stunts which hinted towards further interest in politics. Bishop Tamaki says he will outline his plans at a press conference today, and says his party will focus on values that are being eroded by politicians. He also said it is a “privilege and a responsibility to seek to represent the New Zealand people,” which certainly doesn’t rule out the possibility of him being a candidate.

That would be in contrast to Destiny’s last effort at getting a political party off the ground. Destiny NZ, which stood in 2005 and got 0.6% of the vote, was always kept slightly at arms length from the general business of the church. However, there was significant overlap between them, and that underlines one advantage the revamped version will maintain – a pre-existing pool of potential members and activists. Exact follower numbers are unclear, but it is understood to be around 3000-5000. That means the hurdle of 500 members required for Electoral Commission registration will be cleared easily. Given a large share of Destiny’s congregation is Māori, it stands to reason that will be an electoral focus. However, as Mr Tamaki is an intensely polarising figure, he might struggle to attract pretty much any votes at all from outside his church.

The timing is remarkable, given National MP Alfred Ngaro’s heavy hints he is planning on launching a Christian values party as well. While a large number of New Zealanders hold various Christian faiths, most of them don’t necessarily vote for religious parties. Te Waha Nui spoke to various Christian leaders about Mr Ngaro’s possible party, including Rev. Frank Ritchie who raised concerns that the definition of Christianity held by many parties in this space doesn’t match how many Christians define their own faith. “Christianity is a religious structure, not a political structure.” And writing on The Spinoff, conservative columnist Liam Hehir absolutely savaged the idea as “more likely to lead to the complete political marginalisation of conservative Christianity within New Zealand politics.”

There was a particularly useful post for this on Kiwiblog by John Stringer – a former National and Conservative party member who has been particularly active in Christian politics for decades. He calculated the share of the vote going to parties with strong religious elements over each election since 1996. Some years it’s dramatically low, and only occasionally do explicitly Christian parties come close to the threshold. Mr Stringer has thrown cautious support behind Mr Ngaro’s plans, so long as he can win an electorate seat. Bob McCoskrie from Family First sees similar prospects.

It also leaves the New Conservatives somewhat out in the cold. Their deputy leader Elliot Ikilei said he wasn’t concerned about the new entry taking their turf. “Despite not being a Christian party, we are the only party who has universal values that Christians hold to.” But for a party that is aiming for the 5% threshold, a few thousand votes could make a big difference. To save space, we won’t go into depth on The New NZ Party – a vehicle for David Moffett which is at this stage is unregistered, and mainly appears to consist of aggressive social media posting.

Does any of this matter in the grand scheme of things? Despite all three parties (well, one party, one soon to be party and one highly possible party) having significant struggles ahead to get a few percent, they each have something advantageous in their favour. Alfred Ngaro has an MP’s resources. Brian Tamaki has a congregation. And the New Conservatives already have a party infrastructure in place. So each has elements that could push their vote into the thousands, rather than the hundreds. If none of them then make it in, that could have a distortionary effect on the subsequent balance of parliament, with a potentially large wasted vote.

It could also leave National, once again, left bereft when it comes to support parties. It is widely assumed that anything set up by Mr Ngaro will continue to back his former party – the appearance at least is of a fairly contrived set of circumstances by which National can create a political ally. That’s certainly an impression Newstalk ZB’s Andrew Dickens gets, and it’s a view I share. But the value of that will be negligible – even if Mr Ngaro can win an electorate – if he doesn’t also bring in MPs off the list. Whatever happens, it will be fascinating to watch how the dynamics play out between each, and if any of them will be able to push themselves firmly to the forefront of this part of the political landscape.


A whopping share of the provincial growth fund has merely been shuffled around government departments and Councils, reports Michael Sergel for Newstalk ZB. More than half of all individual announcements have been for planning purposes, such as feasibility studies. And government agencies, departments and councils have got more than three quarters of the money “to fast-track projects or make up for funding shortfalls.”


Plans for new ways to get across the Auckland Harbour bridge have finally been released. The walking and biking path will be separated, but at roughly the same level as the roadway, and construction could begin as soon as next year. It’s not the SkyPath, in case you were wondering – this piece by Bike Auckland’s Jolisa Gracewood republished on The Spinoff gets deep into the detail of what the differences are, and how these plans are being received by Auckland’s cycling community.


New research on sea level rises has experts concerned that the IPCC has been too conservative in climate change projections, reports Radio NZ. Accelerated melting of ice around the poles has been factored into what is known as a “structured expert judgement study” – essentially a highly educated prediction. And the results coming out of it indicate that the world could be in for sea level rises of more like 2 metres by 2100, rather than the current estimate of 1 metre. There aren’t really enough hyperboles in the world to describe how catastrophic an outcome that would be for millions of people.


Changes to Tower’s pricing model have pushed the insurer back into profitability. This report from Interest’s Jenée Tibshraeny is a really smart look at the move to risk-based pricing – something that is surely only going to get more common as climate instability increases the likelihood of natural disasters. Tower was hit hard by both the Canterbury and Kaikōura earthquakes, and that is still having an impact on their financial performance.


Remember that government funding boost for the ambulance service? Newshub has confirmed that none of it will go towards increasing staff pay, and rather will be spent on plugging organisational holes. That won’t be welcome news in the slightest to paramedics, who have been engaged in long-running industrial action. But St John CEO Peter Bradley says he’d dearly love to pay paramedics more, and a further funding bid is in with the government to do just that.


A male parliamentary staffer has been stood down while an investigation takes place into a historical allegation of sexual assault. It follows the release of the report into bullying and sexual harassment at parliament. Stuff reports an alarming number of complaints were made during the course of the report being written, ranging from rape and sexual coercion to unwanted touching and messaging. The report was compiled under conditions of anonymity, so names have been released.


SkyCity has gone ahead with their offshore-based online casino, against the wishes of the government, reports The Spinoff’s Don Rowe. You might remember this from a Bulletin back in March. The casino has partnered with a company in Malta, thus sidestepping New Zealand law. The Problem Gambling Foundation say they’re worried that significant harm will be done to gamblers as a result, though SkyCity say they are voluntarily instituting harm reduction strategies.


Just quickly, in breaking news out of the UK: Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom has just resigned from PM Theresa May’s cabinet. It’s a hugely significant departure, and in all likelihood means the final collapse of May’s administration is imminent. We’ll probably end up covering this a bit more tomorrow morning.


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From left: Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison. Background: Australian cricketer Steve Smith

Right now on The Spinoff: Criminologist Keiran Hardy assesses the decision to charge the Christchurch mosque shooter as a terrorist, along with the existing charges of murder. Neil Miller writes about joining his nephew in court after some direct climate change action resulted in arrests. Alice Webb-Liddall reports on the struggles many creatives are having to make a living, and why that matters for the industry. And Scarlett Cayford read every single long-listed book on the Women’s Prize for Fiction list – here’s her definitive top 6.

Meanwhile, here’s two pieces on the fallout from the Australian election: Pollster Stephen Mills outlines the lessons for the left from the loss, and assesses the bleak prospects of Australia doing anything meaningful on climate change now. And Sydney resident Nick Snelling is just bloody gutted about it all.


Today’s feature is an excellent piece of writing on the extreme gentrification that has taken place in San Francisco, from the Washington Post. In the space of just a few decades, it has gone from being one of the world’s cultural epicentres, to being among the most economically elitist cities in the world. Many of the trends described in this article will be instantly familiar to those facing extremely high real estate prices in Auckland and Wellington. Here’s an excerpt:

“I don’t know anyone in San Francisco who is making a full-time living as an artist,” says Victor Krummenacher of the band Camper Van Beethoven, who left the city in April after 30 years, moving an hour east of Los Angeles. “Part of being an artist is being an observer of what is going on. In the Bay Area, you’re so mired in the congestion and costs.”

San Francisco has also become less welcoming of altruistic professions, as teachers and social workers are priced out of housing.

The Sierra Club, founded in 1892, decamped to Oakland three years ago after its annual rent was projected to increase by almost $1.5 million. “Nonprofits are fleeing San Francisco. They can no longer afford it, ” says Doug Styles of Huckleberry Youth Programs, founded during the Summer of Love to assist runaway teens. Retaining staff is a challenge. “We’re missing that middle and lower economic group.”


New Zealand’s netball team for the upcoming World Cup is set to be announced today. Radio NZ’s Ravinder Hunia has cast her eye over the likely list of twelve to go to the tournament, based in part on who has been most impressive in the ANZ Premiership. The group she’s picked out has some players with serious experience under their belts, along with a few up and comers. And writing on Newsroom, Suzanne McFadden takes a much closer look at the chances of Katrina Rore (nee Grant) the Pulse skipper who has been absolutely dominant since being dumped by the Silver Ferns. Meanwhile, the Southern Steel have beaten the Northern Stars to round out the regular season, with both teams set to meet in the ANZ Premiership elimination final next week.

In cricket, a financial drama is looming, reports the NZ Herald. They’ve covered a meeting between the heads of the six major provincial associations and the head office at NZ Cricket, which allegedly turned fractious over questions of how much money would be coming in. It’s not that NZ Cricket is in danger of going under – they’ve got big reserves of equity built up. But it’s more that the associations have no idea how big a slice of the pie they’ll be able to eat, amid development going into new ways of structuring the domestic game.

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