Flames on the roof of the SkyCity Convention Centre (Supplied, Harsh Khanna)

Ramifications of the SkyCity Convention Centre fire

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: In today’s edition: Serious ramifications likely from SkyCity fire, dozens of partnership visas being denied, and yet another police pursuit death.

The fire at the SkyCity Convention Centre construction site has continued to burn overnight. Fire crews were forced to abandon the roof, in an attempt to save the wider building. Much of central Auckland was brought to a standstill yesterday, with multiple buildings evacuated and a vast police cordon in place. Issues are likely to continue today – for example earlier this morning TVNZ tweeted that there may be issues getting on air, because their CBD building had to be evacuated. Looking ahead to today, gale force winds are likely to hamper firefighting efforts, reports Newshub.

Some bus services will be disrupted this morning – you can find details on that here – and there will be major delays due to closed roads. Thick smoke is still billowing out, and is likely to be an issue for the CBD this morning. Continue following advice from the Auckland Regional Public Health Service yesterday to stay away from the fire site, and keep windows shut.

For the Convention Centre itself and the company building it, this is an unmitigated disaster. The NZ Herald has catalogued the woes of the troubled Convention Centre, which has been plagued by delays, controversies and forced redesigns. For Fletcher Building, the Convention Centre became one of the major projects that dragged the whole company down. Speculation is mounting about how much this will cost, and how much longer this fire will set back the construction timetable – it could be months or even years. The share prices of both Fletchers and SkyCity fell yesterday on news of the fire.

The Convention Centre is considered to be an important aspect of Auckland’s wider economic infrastructure. One News reports parliamentarians have been expressing concerns about what this will mean, and 2020 bookings are currently being reviewed with the possibility that they won’t be able to proceed. Looking ahead, there are question marks around the 2021 APEC summit, one of the biggest events on the global diplomatic calendar.


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Dozens of partnership visa are being declined under a new interpretation of the test by Immigration NZ, reports Laura Walters for Newsroom. It means people particularly in the Indian communities are having to sell or pack up and leave, and has been labelled racist and unjust. It relates to couples living together and being considered to be in a “stable relationship”, however that is often difficult for couples where one is studying or working in New Zealand. National Party MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi says he believes it is an effort by the government to reduce immigration numbers by stealth.


Yet another police chase has resulted in death, reports Radio NZ. The victim of the latest pursuit in Christchurch was an innocent bystander, whose car was hit by a fleeing vehicle being pursued through a residential area. The chase had been going on for four minutes, and a Fendalton local who witnessed it suggested the police “don’t seem to know, in my opinion, when to back off these guys. They just push them and this is what happens, they take someone else out on the way through.” Police are currently in the process of implementing the recommendations of a review into pursuit practices.


PM Jacinda Ardern has been criticised for her perceived hands-off stance towards gay conversion ‘therapy’, reports Newshub. Ardern says while she doesn’t support the dangerous practice, which is most frequently used on vulnerable young people, is a question of freedom of religion and expression. That has been criticised by LGBT advocates, who say freedom of religion is about not being persecuted, not having the power to persecute others. The story was also picked up by international LGBT site PinkNews.


A massive expansion plan for Wellington Airport has been criticised by climate scientists, reports Radio NZ. The billion dollar upgrade, which will include a new terminal and relocation of various other services, is being undertaken to accommodate a doubling in passenger numbers by 2040. But Victoria University climate expert Dr James Renwick says such plans are “really the wrong way to be going” if the city is to have any hope of reducing carbon emissions, and that the number of flights being taken needed to be managed down, not expanded.


Auckland Transport’s board of directors has voted to approve speed limit reductions around the city, reports Radio NZ. It will be a big change especially around the CBD, which is coming down to 30km/h. More than a dozen town centres will also see reductions, and decisions on some rural roads will be deferred. The decision has been welcomed by cycling advocates, and the case for why it’s an important change was put really well here by guest writer Jolisa Gracewood.


Canada has gone to the polls and returned PM Justin Trudeau. However, as this cheat sheet goes into more depth on, he’ll have to lead a minority government. On balance, he’s coming into his second term much weaker than he did four years ago for his first.


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

Helen King’s unvicious cycle

Right now on The Spinoff: Criminologist Antje Deckert writes about how two year study into how woman offenders are portrayed in media, and how it changes if they’re Māori. Julie Leask and Maryke Steffens outline ways to talk to anti-vaxxers, and especially those who are just a bit skeptical. Helen King writes about the mental health benefits of being part of a group of regular bike riders. Jai Breitnauer takes us with her on a depressing and futile journey through the disputes tribunal. And Emilie Rākete writes about the AOS police trial, and how it is “a dangerous response to a non-existent problem.”


For a feature today, an at times academic diversion into the blurred lines of reality around influencers. The Outline has looked at the creation of ‘drama’ around social media stars, in contrast to the actually existing rather flat video content that gets produced. In many ways, it acts as a signal to audiences that what is being produced is, in fact, real. Here’s an excerpt:

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“Drama” is the lifeblood of influencer content. Although ostensibly disavowed by everyone, everyone, “drama” is in fact the thing that keeps them coming back. Consider YouTuber Keemstar, who runs a channel called DramaAlert solely to keep tabs on feuds within the creator community. “Drama” is when something that happens outside the fictional world portrayed on YouTube spills into that world — and it happens all the time.

Perhaps the purest example is L’affair James Charles, in which the popular makeup artist YouTuber was accused by another YouTuber of being disloyal. (There are more details but my god do I not care). The drama was apparently riveting, lasting days and leading their respective follower counts to vary wildly. The denouement was that Charles had “kept receipts” — he displayed some text messages that validated his side of the story and has since enjoyed continued success.


A major gain for Sky Sports, which has locked in a range of netball coverage through to 2024. It’s a valuable gain for the channel which needs something other than the rugby to hold on with. The NZ Herald’s Chris Keall reports it came on a big moving day for sports rights, with Spark also snapping up non-live digital highlights coverage for a range of international cricket events.


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