Flowers and tributes left near Al Noor mosque on March 18 (Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images)

The Bulletin: Police admin failure let mosque shooter get gun licence

Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin for Monday November 30. In today’s edition: An admin failure is to blame for the Christchurch gunman getting a firearms licence, Santa parade organisers say sorry over an anti-abortion float, and a news organisation has been forced to remove a documentary about child uplifts.

An exclusive report from Newshub’s Patrick Gower claims an admin failure allowed the Christchurch gunman to access a firearm. Gower reports that the terrorist should never have been allowed to obtain a gun licence because he did not have appropriate referees – but police gave it to him anyway.

Mahrukh Sarwar and Nour Malak from the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand investigated how police let the terrorist get a gun licence. The pair found that the terrorist’s referees were an “online gaming friend” and the friend’s father. Newsroom had the same scoop, with David Williams writing an in-depth report based on the Federation’s findings.

According to police procedure, there are specific rules for who can be a referee. One can be a spouse, partner, or next-of-kin who normally resides with or is related to you, and the other must be a person who is unrelated to you, over 20 years old, and knows you well. “If they followed through their own policies that they set, 51 lives would have gone home on that day [on March 15],” Nour Malak told Newshub.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the attacks was given to the government last week. But, as Stuff reports, it’s possible that there will be a 30-year wait before the public can see any evidence given by ministers and senior public servants.


The organisers of a Southland Santa parade have apologised over a pro-life float. According to a report by Stuff’s Damian Rowe, Evan Harding and Louise-Jane Steyl, members of the float held placards that said “stand for life”, “life is valuable”, and “life is worth it”. Parade organisers later apologised for the float, which they called “anti-choice”. They said they had no idea about it until after the parade had ended.

It follows a clash between a Christmas celebration and vegans in Wellington over the weekend. As Newshub reports, Wellington Vegan Actions organised a march in the capital on Saturday, coinciding with the two-day festival “A Very Welly Christmas”. In 2019, vegan activists protested at the same time as Auckland’s annual Christmas parade, briefly disrupting the proceedings.


A missing Auckland woman has been linked to two failing businesses. RNZ reports that police have located a body in the search for 55-year-old Ying Zhong, also known as Elizabeth. The companies register shows Zhong as a director of both Carrick Wines and Digifilm, with the former in receivership and the latter in liquidation.

Last night, police confirmed Zhong’s disappearance was now being treated as a homicide. A post-mortem examination has taken place and a scene examination is ongoing. A (paywalled) report on the Herald has claims by a neighbour that a man would regularly park outside Zhong’s East Auckland home in the months before she was found dead.


The High Court has ordered Newsroom to remove its documentary on Oranga Tamariki uplifts. The documentary, titled, “The New Wave of Trauma”, showed social workers removing children from their “forever” foster home. It will remain offline for at least a fortnight until a hearing can be held.

Justice Francis Cooke also instructed Newsroom to remove two other articles. One was a full story on the findings of the documentary and the other included the reaction from Kelvin Davis, the minister for children. A photograph from another story also had to be removed.


There was just one new Covid-19 case reported yesterday. As The Spinoff’s live updates reported, the new case arrived from Jordan via Dubai on November 26. They are now in the Auckland quarantine facility, taking the number of active cases in the country up to 69.

Meanwhile, two of the cases reported in the Pakistan cricket team are now considered to be historic, according to serology (blood) testing. All 53 members of the squad in managed isolation in Christchurch have also had serology tests, in addition to the routine PCR testing for the virus.


Torrential rain near Wellington flooded a major route out of the capital. RNZ reported on the flash flooding in Plimmerton, which briefly closed State Highway 1. More than a dozen homes were left uninhabitable by the deluge, with the town’s fire chief Carl Mills saying there was nothing crews with pumps could do to hold back the water.

For anyone who has ever lived in Wellington or knows the Plimmerton roundabout, the photos and footage of the flooding are especially shocking.

And in other weather-related news, the iconic Milford Track has officially reopened. As the Otago Daily Times reports, the famous walk was shut after a torrential downpour in February left it damaged. Conservation minister Kiri Allan said that after Covid-19 shut down our local tourism sector, this summer is a great opportunity to walk the Milford Track.

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eden park

Photo: Getty Images

Right now on The Spinoff: Duncan Greive writes about the ban on concerts at Auckland’s Eden Park. Charlotte Muru-Lanning has a story on photographs of tūpuna Māori being sold for top dollar at auction houses. The final episode of our Conversations That Count podcast discusses the way that Aotearoa talks about mental wellbeing. Linda Burgess asks when songs stopped having lyrics she knew by heart. And Ensemble’s Rebecca Wadey writes about the inevitability of perimenopause.

For this morning’s feature, Stuff’s homepage is today emblazoned with a banner calling it their “day of reckoning”. The news organisation has introduced a Treaty of Waitangi based charter and apologised for journalism that often misrepresented or unfairly portrayed Māori. Stuff’s editorial director Mark Stevens writes:

We looked nationally, and locally. We looked at child abuse, Parihaka, at Moutoa Gardens, the police raids in Te Urewera, the Foreshore and Seabed Act, and more.

I tiro atu mātou ki te motu katoa, ki ngā rohe hoki. I tirohia ko ngā take tūkino tamariki, ko Parihaka, ko Pākaitore, ko ngā urutomo a te pirihimana ki Te Urewera, ko te Ture Takutai Moana, me ētahi atu take.

Across the board, the findings don’t make for good reading.

Puta noa i ēnei tirotiro katoa, kāore i pai te pānui atu.

Our coverage of Māori issues over the past 160 years ranged from racist to blinkered. Seldom was it fair or balanced in terms of representing Māori.

I roto i te 160 tau o te pāho i ngā take Māori, ka kitea he kaikiri, he kāpō rānei. Itiiti noa te wāhi whai tika, whai tauritenga rānei, mō te whakaatu i ngā take Māori.

I’d encourage you check out the rest of the feature along with Stuff’s new charter. You can visit the homepage here.


And finally today in sport, it’s been a big weekend for the Black Caps. The team soared to victory in the first T20 against the West Indies on Friday night at Eden Park (most likely due to the small contingent of Spinoff employees cheering them on from the stand), winning with five wickets and four balls to spare.

Last night, the Black Caps grabbed a 72-run victory over the West Indies in the second T20 clash at Bay Oval.


A message from Alex Braae: Start getting your suggestions in now for the best NZ journalism of 2020! As we do every year, we’ll be using December to highlight some of the best pieces of writing, investigative work and reporting, from a rather tumultuous year. Obviously work on Covid-19 will feature heavily, but please feel free to suggest other stuff that happened outside of that. Send your suggestions through to thebulletin@thespinoff.co.nz.

That’s it for The Bulletin. Alex Braae is away today and tomorrow so I’ll be filling in – hopefully you enjoy the read! Any questions? Flick me a message on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz.

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