(Radio NZ: Diego Opatowski)
(Radio NZ: Diego Opatowski)

The BulletinSeptember 26, 2019

The Bulletin: Battle lines drawn over mānuka honey

(Radio NZ: Diego Opatowski)
(Radio NZ: Diego Opatowski)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: International battle lines drawn up over mānuka honey, shocking case of neglect in prison revealed, and Jetstar to pull out of five regional routes.

To lead us off today, a story which has been rumbling away for a while which has all kicked off this week. It’s a New Zealand business story, but interestingly much of the early reporting on it came from Australia. That’s because if we get our way, they stand to lose the most.

It’s all about Mānuka honey, or as the Australians call it, Manuka. That macron honestly makes a lot of difference, because what the Australians are worried about is a move by the NZ government to help the domestic honey industry secure a trademark on the name in China. Here’s a piece from Melbourne paper The Age on it. There’s a massive market in China for it, and from the Australian point of view, the tree grows there too, and is even called manuka in some parts of the country. And it is just as scientifically possible for this very specific (and very closely controlled) variety of honey to be produced there.

Around $6 million will be put towards the trademark efforts by the NZ government, reports Radio NZ. If you agree with comments from regional economic development minister Shane Jones, presumably made while patriotically soapboxing on top of a beehive, the Aussies are basically trying to steal an economic taonga. Commercial production of mānuka honey was pioneered by New Zealanders. The trademark effort is vitally important to this country’s national interests he says, because locking up the mānuka market would allow huge growth in a clean, regional industry that supports, rather than competes with environmental outcomes. There is also international precedent for this sort of thing – champagne coming from a specific region of France, for one example.

New Zealand holds the trademark in the UK, in part because mānuka was recognised as a Māori word. A similar application was also rejected by the USA. But China is the real prize for any primary production, so the outcome of this battle could have far reaching ramifications.

A prisoner at with epilepsy was left alone and untreated in a soiled cell after having a seizure, reports Don Rowe for The Spinoff. The incident at Christchurch Men’s Prison has sparked a furious reaction from Corrections minister Kelvin Davis, who says what happened was well below his expectations around care standards. The man’s family say their father could have died, and he was left in that condition overnight.

Jetstar will stop flying five of their regional routes, affecting Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth and Palmerston North. The flights don’t make them money, and they’re already relatively pricey. But as the NZ Herald’s (paywalled) travel editor Winston Aldworth writes, despite a commitment from Air NZ not to raise prices on those routes until the end of next year, even higher ticket prices are almost certainly on the way for flyers. I personally wonder if the big winner out of this could be bus services, as the remaining low cost option.

Auckland mayoral candidates have been asked for their thoughts on what to do about the 40,000 empty homes in the city, reports the NZ Herald (paywalled.) The number of ghost houses has grown dramatically since the last census, and Phil Goff says he’s currently having conversations with various groups about how owners might be incentivised to open them up to the rental market, theoretically through the Housing First programme. However Goff isn’t in favour of taxes on ghost houses, despite them shown to have worked in cutting down the number in comparable cities like Vancouver.

Deputy PM Winston Peters is questioning the quality of census data around immigration, reports Interest. The key point in question is around the definition of New Zealanders returning to the country, which Stats NZ defines with regards to time spent time spent outside New Zealand. However, whether or not someone is a returning New Zealand citizen doesn’t make a huge difference when it comes to the overall population estimates of the census.

Just one area in the country saw a decline in population in the latest census – the West Coast of the South Island. In part that is because of economic factors, reports Radio NZ – major places of employment have closed or had mass layoffs, and property prices have dropped sharply in Buller. The number of children age 15 and under is down, however school rolls are described as “stable.”

People smugglers are charging the desperate tens of thousands of dollars to try and get to New Zealand, reports Michael Morrah for Newshub. Many of those on fraudulent documents get stopped before they can fly to New Zealand, and others get stopped here. But in this industry NZ documents are considered highly valuable, because they’re rated as highly secure by international standards.

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Right now on The Spinoff: Julie Hill speaks to three people deported from Australian back to New Zealand, about their detention and life afterwards. Teuila Fuatai speaks to former National MP Chester Borrows about his ideological journey towards justice reform. Maria Slade writes about moves to finally outlaw the exploitation of dependent contractors, particularly an issue for truckers and couriers. Michele A’Court writes about talking to a plastic surgeon, as part of the latest episode of On The Rag. Hayden Donnell casts his eye over the latest works of candidate booklet art from Christchurch’s Tubby Hansen, a serial stander for local elections. And Josie Adams gives the big strong media boys attacking Greta Thunberg a nice pat on the head.

For a feature today, a beautiful piece of writing. The Pantograph Punch have published this autobiographical essay by Janna Tay, which traces the history of her family back to China, via the journeys they went on along the way. It made me think a lot about the origin stories people tell when you meet them, and the complex ways people define themselves. Here’s an excerpt from an earlier generation:

Did I ever show you this? It’s a map in smudged black ink, worn well along the creases. He taps a small faded dot. That’s us. His finger traces a vast expanse before circling an island at the base of a thin strip of land. 新加坡. Singapore.

You’ve talked about it before.

Talk. He smirks. His cigarette flares. It’s more than that now. There’s a boat leaving soon. Coming?


We can’t stay. We’ll die like they did.

The biggest story in the NFL right now is taking place off the field. According to one version of the story Antonio Brown, a gifted wide receiver, is facing personal difficulties after being cut by his team. In another version, he’s facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and assault. The way this piece in the Guardian lays it out really captures the rather sickening dynamic, in that these stories sometimes remain above all about sport, not what is actually being alleged and investigated.

And the first real upset of the 2019 Rugby World Cup has been provided by Uruguay. They beat Fiji 30-27, who coming into the tournament were considered a reasonable bet to take out either Wales or Australia. For Los Teros, the win was by far their biggest at a World Cup – previously they had only ever beaten Georgia and Spain, and hadn’t won a World Cup game in 16 years.

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