PM Jacinda Ardern speaking at Owae Marae in Waitara (Radio NZ, Robin Martin)

The Bulletin: A commemoration of history that still lives 

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Government ministers and iwi leaders in Waitara for commemoration, open letter to Greens over GE, and Hamilton’s leading public servant calls for election reform. 

Government ministers, iwi leaders and other dignitaries have gathered in Taranaki this weekend to commemorate a foundational period in New Zealand’s history. Te Pūtake o Te Riri, He Rā Maumahara is a three day event to mark the series of wars after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between settlers, the Crown and iwi. There is a lot of debate over what that period should best be described as, but I’ll follow the lead of historian Vincent O’Malley and call them the New Zealand Wars/Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa. It was the second such nationwide commemoration, after the inaugural event was held in the Bay of Islands last year.

The major event in this year’s commemoration took place at Owae Marae in Waitara. The location is of course significant, as the site of where one of the individual conflicts broke out. That history is covered in this remarkable Radio NZ documentary Stories of Waitara. The point is powerfully made in the documentary that the conflicts were never fully resolved, and that Māori who fought them to avoid being dispossessed of their land lost it all the same. The negative effects of that continue to this day – and in a small but telling way the point has been widely made that the streets of Waitara still bear the names of the settler constabulary, rather than the names of significant Te Āti Awa figures.

While there is increasingly widespread agreement that the New Zealand Wars/Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa should be marked in some way, there is still disagreement over how. Those issues were unpacked in this panel discussion on The Hui, in particular around how the conflicts get taught in schools. The government announced recently that schools will be required to teach the history from 2022 onwards, and among the suggestions raised was the idea that schools should be making links with iwi and hapu groups so that local stories can be part of the wider curriculum.


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Young NZ scientists have sent an open letter to the Green Party, urging a rethink on their GE policy. The open letter can be read in full here, and urges acceptance of genetic engineering as a tool worth researching to fight climate change. This report by editor Toby Manhire goes into the context of why the Greens are the ones being targeted. In response, Green MP Gareth Hughes said the party appreciated the message of the letter, but added that “there are emissions reduction practices available right now without needing hypothetical, future GE-based technologies.”


Hamilton City’s leading public servant has called for local election reform to address a “broken” system, reports Radio NZ. While Hamilton City Council chief executive Richard Briggs didn’t put his stamp of approval on specific suggestions, he said clearly something needed to be done to address turnout, saying central government need to involve itself more fully ahead of 2022. Here’s a suggestion from campaigner Laura O’Connell Rapira that has real legs in my opinion – give people a proper opportunity to vote socially, rather than postally or online.


The question of how many new police officers the government will deliver has taken a confusing turn. Fortunately, the NZ Herald’s Derek Cheng (paywalled) has waded into the detail of it all and found the point of contention. The number is somehow 1800 for two entirely different targets – both how many new officers will be sworn in, and how much the force will grow, each over varying durations of time.


Twelve years after a devastating fire, Te Huki Marae in the Hawke’s Bay has reopened, reports Te Aniwa Hurihanganui for Radio NZ. The reopening was a testament to community fundraising, and various organisations and charities pitching in. While the marae was closed, others in the Ngāti Pāhauwera rohe hosted their share of important events, particularly Mōhaka.


The mega-mast of forest food is having an impact on how much Conservation land can be covered by 1080. Newsroom’s David Williams reports because of the higher intensity of predator populations at the moment, the cost per hectare of 1080 coverage has gone up significantly. That also means that quite a bit less of the conservation estate will actually be covered, meaning predators like rats and stoats will have a safe haven to live in.


Please indulge me in one of my stranger journalistic interests: If you’ve ever wanted to hear someone talk for 20 minutes about the current state of the minor parties in NZ, I’ve got you covered, thanks to Radio NZ inviting me on to their Labour Day morning show. Also, over the weekend The Spinoff published this piece about Social Credit – the original 3rd party in NZ politics who are still somehow trying to make a go of it. They’ve been in the news a bit recently and are targeting 2020 for their resurgence.


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

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Right now on The Spinoff: Maria Slade investigates growing concerns about the value of what highly-touted startup Crimson Education claims to provide. Josie Adams interviews hip hop collective SWIDT, whose music has just taken a dramatic political turn. India Essuah reports on concerns around Marco Pierre White getting star billing at Taste of Auckland, and what it says about sexism in the industry. Alice Neville looks back five years to the heady time when a new chocolate milk brand went viral.

Finally, the must read piece of the weekend is this analysis from Morgan Godfery of how the Treaty of Waitangi has been abused in practice, and why the settlements negotiated under them are another fraud inflicted on Māori. “It’s like signing a contract and your boss holds you to a Google translate version,” says Godfery.

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For a feature today, a podcast that offered a comprehensive view of the Hong Kong protests. It didn’t come from an organisation based in the city – instead being a series of stories told by the team of reporters at This American Life. But the way they explored the lives of not just protesters but also those becoming radicalised, the apolitical and the police, was complex and nuanced. If you’ve got an hour to spare, you’ll come away from the episode knowing a lot more about it all.


In sport, did you hear about the All Blacks? If you care about their crashing out of the World Cup, you probably have heard by now. So rather than go over that again, looking ahead a time of pretty major change is coming up at the top of NZ Rugby. Both the CEO and the coach will be moving on, with the departing CEO Steve Tew telling NZME it is deeply unlikely the new coach will be Warren Gatland if he continues with his Lions commitments. One News reports incumbent assistant coach Ian Foster’s chances of taking the top job have also taken a hit with the loss. And Scott Robertson is on contract for another few years…

And in netball, Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua is furious over the manner in which the crucial final Constellation Cup game was lost. Stuff reports she has hammered inconsistent umpiring, though Taurua acknowledged that Australia were simply better than the Silver Ferns and deserved the win. Speaking of Taurua, she spoke to Alice Webb-Liddall about the incredible turnaround she’s worked with the Silver Ferns over the last year and a half. It was also likely the last test for shooter Maria Folau, which brings to an end a remarkable international career.


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