Jacinda Ardern and Pram Minh Chinh with a pomelo - a Vietnamese fruit that will now be exported to New Zealand. Photo: Supplied

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

This week, we looked at New Zealand’s blossoming trade relationship with Vietnam, the curious rules and regulations surrounding iconic New Zealand art, why entrenching politically-charged policies is such a dangerous move, what happens when New Zealanders get into diplomatic trouble overseas, and what’s shaping up to be another Covid summer.

Whakarongo mai to any episodes you might have missed.

New Zealand says Xin Chao to trade with Vietnam

In November, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern touched down in Vietnam with a sizeable trade delegation, with a mission to sell New Zealand to one of South East Asia’s most quickly emerging markets.

It’s also climbing up the ranks of our closest trade partners, with trade between the countries more than doubling in the past seven years to $2.4 billion.

Matthew Scott talks to RNZ business editor Gyles Beckford and Vietnamese-New Zealander businessman Mitchell Pham.


Do prized artworks need more protection?

Back in September, a collection of works by some of New Zealand’s most celebrated artists was sold off for more than $13.5 million.

Webb’s auction of the BNZ art collection in September brought in more than $13.5 million. Photo: Supplied/Cheska Brown

It was the Bank of New Zealand’s art collection, assembled in the 1980s by famed curator Peter McLeavey. When the bank was privatised, the artworks went with it – McCahons, Anguses, Fomisons and all. 

And while New Zealand law seeks to stop these works from leaving the country, there’s nothing stopping owners from hiding them away – or even destroying them.

Sarah Robson and Sharon Brettkelly speak to Webb’s auction house’s director of art Charles Ninow and AUT art and property law lecturer Rod Thomas.

The problem with entrenching party policy

The Greens’ attempt to entrench a party-political piece of legislation pertaining to Three Waters has gone back to Parliament’s business committee, a sign that the Government will not persevere with it. 

The unusual move came in the form of a supplementary order paper, or SOP, which was introduced by Eugenie Sage as the House debated legislation under urgency last week.

Photo: Lynn Grieveson

This was a stark break from convention: while we do have entrenched laws, they tend to apply to foundational, constitutional matters, like the voting age or the term of Parliament, rather than party-political policies.

Emile Donovan speaks to University of Otago public law professor Andrew Geddis.

“What you see here is today’s temporary [parliamentary] majority saying we are so sure on this particular issue that we’re right, we’re saying to tomorrow’s majority, you just can’t change it, you’re not going to be allowed to,” says Geddis.

When New Zealanders get into trouble overseas

Back in late October, news broke that New Zealanders Topher Richwhite and Bridget Thackwray had been released from detention in Iran after entering the country in July and subsequently going MIA on social media.

Social media influencers Topher Richwhite and Bridget Thackwray spent nearly four months being detained in Iran before their release. Photo: expeditionearth.live/Instagram

New Zealand media got wind of the story, but were asked not to publish details of what had happened to the couple, as the Government tried to negotiate their safe exit.

The case shone a spotlight on so-called “quiet diplomacy” – and the practical limits of consular assistance.

Sarah Robson talks to former trade minister and ambassador Tim Groser and transnational criminal justice lawyer Craig Tuck.

Are we in for another Covid summer?

This summer, New Zealand’s in a markedly different place to what it was a year ago when it comes to Covid-19. 

Photo: Lynn Grieveson

Last December, Auckland was just coming out of lockdown, with widespread health measures still in place – but here we are now, with case numbers ticking up again and a complex mix of subvariants at play.

Matthew Scott talks to Newsroom‘s Marc Daalder and University of Auckland computational biologist David Welch.

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