Every weekday, The Detail makes sense of the big news stories. 

This week, we looked at the councils pushing back on the Government’s medium-density housing rules, and talked to journalist Guyon Espiner about his investigation into Lotto. We covered the upcoming women’s Rugby World Cup, what the closure of the Laura Fergusson Trust rehabilitation centre tells us about the state of disability services, and profiled three different local body elections you may not have seen much about in the media.

Whakarongo mai to any episodes you might have missed. 

The councils pushing back on housing density rules

Who would have thought the stoush over housing density would turn into a juicy soap opera?

Christchurch City Council last week voted against the Government directive to introduce new housing intensification standards that would make it easier to build three units of up to three storeys on one site. Councillors were told beforehand if they did not pass it, a commissioner may be appointed to do it instead.

Sharon Brettkellly walks and talks with urban designer Matthew Prasad in Auckland’s city suburbs about the good the bad and the ugly of medium density housing, and hears from NZ Herald senior political reporter Thomas Coughlan about the background of what was an unusual bipartisan deal.

Behind the story: Luck, loss and Lotto

Lotto proudly declares all its profits are redistributed into the community in the form of lotteries grants, which support the creative arts, charities, churches, sports clubs, and community organisations of all shapes and sizes. 

Photo: RNZ/Cole Eastham-Farrelly

It looks great on the surface, and it makes a certain sense: if you accept gambling will happen in a free society – and the evidence suggests it will – how about you regulate it, and ensure that the money that’s lost goes to a good cause? 

But as RNZ journalist Guyon Espiner finds in his five-part investigation, the world of Lotto is full of contradictions and ethical grey areas. He speaks to Emile Donovan.

Putting women’s rugby on the world stage

Newsroom‘s LockerRoom editor Suzanne McFadden talks to Sharon Brettkelly about the state of women’s rugby and the big dreams for the Covid-delayed World Cup 2021, starting on October 8.

LockerRoom’s Suzanne McFadden (left) with track and field athlete Sarah Cowley Ross during the Rugby World Cup Dinner Event at Auckland Museum. Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images for New Zealand Rugby

“There’s a lot hanging on it. It’s about everybody working together on this one, the media doing a good job informing people who then want to go to the games, who take their children, who see new role models in women rugby players, that New Zealand Rugby responds and makes rugby a better sport for young women to play. I think we all should feel responsible for this,” she says.

Laura Fergusson closure leaves a gap that’s hard to fill

The Laura Fergusson Trust closed its facility in Auckland back in 2020, citing its precarious financial position after years of deficits.

Sophie Malthus. Photo: RNZ

The decision came as a shock to disabled people – and their families – who used and relied on the services provided there.

Emile Donovan talks to journalist Pete McKenzie about his investigation into the closure, and to former resident and disability advocate Sophie Malthus.

Local elections: Three races you should know about

The Auckland and Wellington mayoral contests have been picked apart and pored over comprehensively in the media, but smaller centres are giving off sparks too.

Left to right: Sir Tim Shadbolt (Invercargill mayor), Tania Tapsell (Rotorua mayoral candidate), and Aaron Hawkins (Dunedin mayor). Photo: Otago Daily Times / Stephen Jaquiery, RNZ / Samuel Rillstone, RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Emile Donovan and Sharon Brettkelly sit down together to review three fascinating local body races that you may not have seen in the media: Invercargill, where long-standing mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt may be facing his swan song; Rotorua, with an open field of high-powered candidates fighting to take on the city’s emergency housing crisis; and Dunedin, where a long list of discontents are looking to unseat incumbent mayor Aaron Hawkins, including a sitting councillor who took the council all the way to the Supreme Court over a $12 parking ticket.


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