This week, we looked at why the first gay All Black was so groundbreaking, the clash over strippers’ work rights unfolding at Wellington’s Calendar Girls, the gang members sharing their stories of abuse in state care, the effort to fight a wave of truancy in schools, and how the Breakers basketball team have managed to bounce back from the bottom.

Plus, a new edition of our Long Read.

Whakarongo mai to any episodes you might have missed.


Diversity in sport: Why the first openly gay All Black matters

In February, former Crusaders prop Campbell Johnstone made history as the first openly gay All Black.

Campbell Johnstone, playing for Canterbury, in 2003. Photo: Getty Images

Tom Kitchin speaks to the founder of New Zealand’s first gay rugby team, Dean Knight, and commentator, rugby player and advocate Alice Soper.

Despite some commentators saying Johnstone coming out publicly doesn’t matter, Knight says visibility, and more role models, are important.

“We need role models, we need guys bringing their full selves to their sports … we can’t underestimate the value of role models and other people walking before us to make it easier for us to engage in our own personal choices about how we present ourselves,” he says.


The strippers fighting for better work rights

Nineteen strippers have united to raise awareness of backward employment practices in the strip club industry in New Zealand after an attempt to improve their contracts saw them all fired.

The strippers, who were all hired by Calendar Girls in Wellington as independent contractors, describe being fined hundreds of dollars for ‘bad behaviour’, losing a 50 percent cut of their earnings to the club, and an inability to negotiate the terms of their contracts.

Sarah Robson speaks to Stuff Wellington reporter Erin Gourley, sex work activist and former stripper Vixen Temple, and labour law lecturer Dawn Duncan.

“If you do everything they say, and you suck up to them, they treat you well,” says Vixen Temple of her time stripping.

“But the second you start to go ‘hang on a minute, I don’t feel good about the way you’re treating me’, they turn around and they somehow make you feel like you’re the problem – ‘no one else complains, it’s just you having the issues’!”


Gangs unite to speak up on abuse in care

When Paul Puletaha talks about growing up in Ponsonby in the 1970s, it is with pride and sadness.

The pride comes with being raised among the Polynesian Panthers, and the brotherhood of the King Cobra gang he joined at the age of 13. The sadness is in the memory of his mother, who spent much of her life locked up in a mental health unit.

Gang members at the abuse in care inquiry hearing last week. Photo: Sharon Brettkelly

Puletaha shared his story at the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry hearings in South Auckland last week, when gang whānau gathered to talk about their experiences of state care.

It was a day of rare unity, with gang members wearing different patches meeting for a common reason – and for some it was the first time they had shared their stories of abuse and neglect.

Sharon Brettkelly speaks to Puletaha and his partner Kriddles Roberts.


Keeping kids in school

The government’s $74 million school attendance package will bring in 82 new ‘attendance officers’, who’ll work with children and their whānau to get them back into the classroom regularly, after years of troubling truancy rates.

Jase Williams, principal of Napier’s Henry Hill School. Photo: RNZ

“For a community that already has a lack of trust in the system, people started being heavily influenced in our community by social media,” Napier’s Henry Hill School principal Jase Williams says.

“The worst one we saw was last year – there was a rumour going around that got shared in lots of schools across the country, that schools had the authority to inject your children with the vaccine … ridiculous things like that become fact. Social media, I believe has quite a big impact on that bigger picture of attendance.”  


How the Breakers got back to winning ways

They’ve gone from wooden spooners to grand finalists in the space of just one season, but that’s not the only thing making the Breakers famous.

Breakers’ coach Mody Maor is credited with playing a big role in the team’s turnaround. Photo: Getty Images

The pizzazz of the home games is drawing big crowds, from the hardcore fans to those simply looking for a taste of American-style showtime.

Sharon Brettkelly speaks to RNZ‘s Nathan Rarere and Breakers coach Mody Maor.


The Detail’s Long Read: Roald Dahl and the Big Fat Fuss

This is The Detail‘s Long Read – one in-depth story read by us every weekend.

Johnny Depp as Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka: “Dahl knew that children do have a strong sense that stories are not real.”

This week, it’s Roald Dahl and the Big Fat Fuss, an opinion piece written and read aloud here by Madison Hamill and published on

Madison Hamill is a book editor and author of the award-winning essay collection Specimen. When the global news media caught wind that new editions of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s books had been rewritten to take out the ‘offensive’ sections, she decided to wade into the ensuing culture war herself, looking at the relationship between editors and authors in producing work, and the trend of putting modern sensibilities into historical contexts.


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