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

This week, we looked at what Labour policies might be on the chopping block if a National government sweeps in come 2023, what else we can learn from taking a look at our wastewater, the flip side of the housing crisis with rising mortgage rates, whether vehicles should be allowed to drive around on beaches, and the rise of sorcery violence in Papua New Guinea.

Whakarongo mai to any episodes you might have missed.


Labour’s to do list and the question of lasting reform

We’re less than a year out from the 2023 general election and after a term dominated by Covid-19, the Government is putting the legislative pedal to the metal.

The clock is ticking for Labour to get legislation through Parliament before the next election. But will the reforms survive if National gets into government? Photo: RNZ

Fair pay agreements, the RNZ-TVNZ merger, Three Waters and health system reforms are all being – or have been – progressed by Labour in its second term in office.

But with current polling suggesting a much tighter race next year than in 2020, what could be on the chopping block if a National-led government comes to power?

Emile Donovan talks to Newsroom political editor Jo Moir and Stuff political reporter Thomas Manch.


Spying on our sewage

When looking for an infection like Covid-19 in the community, wastewater testing can pick it up on a scale of one part of the virus in one trillion parts.

Photo: Getty Images

“That’s the equivalent of if you’re looking at somewhere like the Auckland region, being able to see a single ping pong ball somewhere within that thousand kilometres,” says Brent Gilpin, the science leader in the environmental science team at crown research entity ESR.

But, as Gilpin tells Sharon Brettkelly, wastewater can detect much more than Covid – it can read our stress levels, how much alcohol or tobacco we’re consuming, and even monitor for bioterrorism.


The mortgage rate rollercoaster

The Reserve Bank’s most recent financial stability report paints a bleak picture for first home-buyers: people who bought during the pandemic and elected for fixed-term mortgage rates are in for a rude awakening when the time comes to renew.

Photo: RNZ

And with house prices also falling, for related reasons, some homeowners may find themselves in an unenviable position: owing more than their house is worth, but struggling to keep up with their payments

The New Zealand Herald‘s Thomas Coughlan talks to Emile Donovan about the implications for homeowners living on the margins; the factors that have led to this state of affairs; and whether there are any levers that could be pulled.


Do big wheels belong on beaches?

Just about all beaches qualify as roads under New Zealand law. But when cars take a hoon down the beach, they’ve got a different type of traffic to contend with: banded dotterels and yellow-eyed penguins.

Tyre tracks on Muriwai Beach. Photo: Sharon Brettkelly

Forest & Bird and other groups argue that vehicles are killing wildlife, squashing nests and harming the native flora – even drivers who stick to the rules can cause stress to the animals.

Sharon Brettkelly takes a trip to Muriwai Beach in Auckland to chat to Forest & Bird’s Auckland Regional Conservation Manager Carl Morgan, and catches up with Te Anau-based Newsroom journalist Vaneesa Bellew.


The disturbing rise of sorcery magic in PNG

Kiwi filmmaker Paul Wolffram was in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, interviewing people about the disturbing rise of sorcery killings, when someone handed him a note.

Written on it was the name of a woman who has been risking her life to hide victims in a safe house. Her own home has already been burnt down, she has been run out of her town and she has to rebuild her life in a shack in the shanties on the edge of town.

Evelyn Kunda is trying to rescue women accused of sorcery. Photo: Supplied

That woman, Evelyn Kunda, is the focus of a documentary called Wildfire, and Wolffram – who is also an associate professor in the film programme at Te Herenga Waka, Victoria University of Wellington – has just returned to Papua New Guinea to complete it. 

“One young man told me without any qualms or hesitation that they recently had to kill a witch in his village, because if they didn’t take care of it, nobody else would to stop what they perceive as sorcery,” says Wolffram.

He speaks to Sharon Brettkelly.


Find out how to listen and subscribe to The Detail here.  

You can also stay up-to-date by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter

Leave a comment