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For now at least, these three are Gisborne mayor Meng Foon, British PM Theresa May, and rich-lister Eric Watson (Getty Images)
For now at least, these three are Gisborne mayor Meng Foon, British PM Theresa May, and rich-lister Eric Watson (Getty Images)

The BulletinMarch 25, 2019

The Bulletin: News that went under the radar last week

For now at least, these three are Gisborne mayor Meng Foon, British PM Theresa May, and rich-lister Eric Watson (Getty Images)
For now at least, these three are Gisborne mayor Meng Foon, British PM Theresa May, and rich-lister Eric Watson (Getty Images)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. A brief note to start today’s edition: The aftermath of the Christchurch mosque attacks will always be an important set of stories to tell. Further down in today’s edition are the most important developments on that from the weekend. However, many other stories from last week need to be caught up on, so today’s Bulletin will be slightly longer than usual.

A report presented to Auckland Council shows the risks of climate change go far beyond sea level rise, reports Interest. The Council is currently in the process of creating a climate action plan, for adapting to and mitigating the forecast effects. Among them: higher temperatures, higher humidity, and more likelihood of major storms. Those conditions will contribute to both changes in rainfall patterns, and could also increase the risk of tropical diseases like malaria and dengue fever taking hold.

There was a mention of Fonterra’s half year results last week, but it’s worth unpacking further. Writing on the NZ Herald, Jamie Grey says they show the cooperative is still laden with debt, in large part because overseas investments have gone badly. And on Newsroom, Rod Oram writes that if Fonterra is going to look to New Zealand production for the future, then they need to get serious about rebuilding the social and environmental license for dairying, along with shifting away from sheer volume and towards high value products.

Parliamentary staffers are quitting in droves since the start of the year, reports Stuff. It comes amid a review of workplace bullying and harassment around Parliament, initiated by speaker Trevor Mallard. There’s a lot of detail in the story, but the overall picture it paints is of a workplace where MPs and Parliamentary Services staff aren’t getting along well at all with each other. One detail jumps out about it all – of the 28 departures since Christmas, all but one are resignations.

The word ‘shambles’ is used a lot to describe Brexit, but unfortunately, it never gets any less appropriate. To sum up the last week, Europe granted a desperate Britain a short extension to Article 50, meaning they won’t crash out without a deal this week (but might next month.) Meanwhile, more than a million people marched in London demanding a ‘People’s Vote’ – i.e a second referendum, on the grounds that the reality of Brexit wasn’t known at the time of the first one. And meanwhile again, PM Theresa May might be about to lose her job in a ‘Cabinet Coup,’ reports the Sunday Times (paywalled.) Those reports are now being denied by those understood to be part of the plot, but surely it’s just a matter of time.

Primary sector activity has fallen in the latest round of quarterly economic figures, reports Stuff. While the economy overall continues to grow in GDP terms, it is doing so at the slowest rate since 2014. In fact, GDP growth is only slightly higher than population growth, at 0.1% growth per capita.

Gisborne’s long-serving mayor Meng Foon has announced his retirement, after 18 years on the job. This Stuff profile captures the uniqueness of his story, in both life and politics. He is the only mayor in the country fluent in te reo, and the son of a migrant family who came here with nothing. He’s had an outstanding commitment to both public service, and the city of Gisborne. As this Gisborne Herald editorial from before the announcement indicates, two-term deputy mayor Rehette Stoltz was likely to have given him a serious run for the job had he stood again.

New Zealand rich-lister Eric Watson has been involved in some serious court drama this year. Writing on the NZ Herald, Brian Gaynor outlines the scale of it for Mr Watson – he and his companies collectively owe about $200 million to IRD and business opponent Sir Owen Glenn. There’s a lot of detail in the story, but it’s a really interesting example of how difficult it can be to hold on to extreme wealth.

There’s been a call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the intelligence services following the Christchurch terror attack. National party leader Simon Bridges says there needs to be a harder look taken at the priorities and legislation than what the current inquiry will give, reports Radio NZ. He’s also suggested that ‘Project Speargun’ – a cyber-snooping programme shut down by the previous National government in 2013 – should be reconsidered. Expect to hear more on this in the coming weeks, including from those with concerns about cyber-surveillance.

At least twelve men killed in the attacks were fathers, leaving behind twice that number of children. Stuff reports the families will need an immense amount of support – as is entirely to be expected and provided. Givealittle campaigns have collectively raised at least $10 million for the loved ones of the victims, but depending on circumstances, a lot of families also face hurdles around onerous travel, visa requirements and adjusting to life in New Zealand.

A story breaking this morning on air on Radio NZ – the SIS have been accused of breaching the human rights of Muslim New Zealanders. That comes from research from the Human Rights Foundation, which they say shows Muslim men weren’t advised of their rights before being put through ambush interrogations, under the guise of a friendly chat.

A nationwide service of remembrance will be held this Friday at 10am, at Hagley Park in Christchurch. It may be simultaneously broadcast to events in other cities, details are being announced later in the week.

The so-called manifesto of the accused terrorist has been classified as objectionable. Chief censor David Shanks says “it promotes, encourages and justifies acts of murder and terrorist violence against identified groups of people,” reports Stuff. It is now illegal to own or share a copy of it, and those who had downloaded it are advised to delete it.

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets members of the Christchurch Muslim Community following the terrorist attack that targeted two mosques on Friday. Photo: Supplied

Right now on The Spinoff: Madeleine Chapman has put together the defining account of the PM’s week after the terrorist attack – it really does read like the first draft of history. Graeme Edgeler gives some clarity on the most pressing questions regarding the trial of the accused. Poet Mohamed Hassan responds to the attacks with a beautiful piece called National Anthem. And journalist Shilo Kino writes an uncomfortable personal essay about being part of an industry that often creates damaging and misleading narratives around minority groups.

It turns out The Bulletin has more readers in Morrinsville than I realised. Quite a bit of feedback came in on the Piako Post story about the largely unused, District Council funded carpark. Gordon questioned me as to whether I was under-selling quite how significant a problem finding a park on Morrinsville’s main streets really is – and if I was doing that, I do of course apologise to the good people of the town. I regret that I haven’t been there since the middle of last year, though I was able to find a park during the middle of a weekday.

But as for the new carpark – Daniel Compton had some extremely detailed feedback as to why it wasn’t working – he even included a diagram map. To quote at very worthwhile length:

“The new carpark is further away to walk than most of the other parking spots, and requires you to cross State Highway 26 (going through the town) to get into the CBD. It’s not in a very discoverable location either. To get to it, you need to go to the end of a sparsely used street in the industrial area, and park your car completely out of view of the public. This is a huge disincentive to use this carpark.

If MPDC wants to improve the occupancy of the outer parking, then they need to set some time limits for the parking nearer to the CBD. I can’t see the Chamber of Commerce lobbying for that.”

I know I’ve published feedback in The Bulletin on some pretty odd topics (for eg, the three days in a row last year where more kept coming in on competitive ploughing.) But this is an election year for local councils. So here’s an open, ongoing call for feedback, to both members of the public and journalists. If you know about an issue in your town that local politicians should look into, or have written a story about something like that which deserves more attention, please do email me –

The Northern Mystics have had a bizarrely bad start to the ANZ Premiership netball season, losing to every single other team in the competition, reports Stuff. It leaves them flat last, with just a bonus point for company, amid a ladder that every other team on has at least two wins. All teams will play this Sunday as part of a triple header, at Waitākere’s Trusts Arena.

The Black Ferns will be part of a new five team series held in July in the USA, reports Newshub. The tournament, which includes England, France, Canada and the USA, will be basically the defining measurement of who stands where in the international game for the year, as it involves the five top ranked teams in the world. The Black Ferns will also have a two test series against the Wallaroos to get through afterwards, so it’s going to be a challenging year of campaigning for the team.

From our partners: Climate change has already affected how electricity gets delivered to customers, and it’s only going to get more challenging. Vector’s Chief Networks Officer Andre Botha outlines what the lines company is doing to respond.

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