This week, we looked at the problems underground that make building big ticket infrastructure so difficult, the toxic ‘manosphere’ that’s sucking in vulnerable young men, Ashley Bloomfield’s thoughts on political neutrality and the Rob Campbell saga, the impact Cyclone Gabrielle is having (and will continue to have) on our fresh fruit and veges, and the role insurers will play in the game of managed retreat.

Plus, a new edition of our Long Read.

Whakarongo mai to any episodes you might have missed.


Mapping the infrastructure underground

For decades we’ve been looking at what sits on top of the land: new stadiums, much needed housing, bigger airports. 

Two devastating storms and a cyclone have changed that.

What are all those cables for? A manhole at Auckland Airport. Photo: The Detail/Alexia Russell

Now the spotlight is on the hidden world of what lies beneath – and what’s on the maps of utility providers and councils around the country is often a far cry from the reality of infrastructure under our feet. 

Alexia Russell pays a visit to Auckland Airport where New Zealand company Reveal are working to get a picture of what’s really going on underground – so when a contractor puts a spade in the ground, or uses a digger, they don’t stumble upon a vital piece of infrastructure that could take out power, water – or worse. 


The toxic world of the manosphere

It’s sexism, misogyny and fear, wrapped up in a hatred towards feminism and anger towards women. 

It’s the ‘manosphere’ – an echo chamber where young men hang out and where their insecurities are fed on by some of the most vile men on the internet. 

Controversial social media influencer Andrew Tate Photo: Supplied / Instagram

And it’s far from harmless – some of these acolytes are inspired by each other to commit mass murder. There have been nearly 100 deaths in North America alone connected to this. 

Their heroes are people such as Andrew Tate, the former kickboxer who has now been arrested for sex trafficking in Romania. He may have been de-platformed but there are plenty of new voices taking his place. 

Alexia Russell speaks to criminology researcher Angus Lindsay and consent education group RespectED board member Kyla Rayner.


Ashley Bloomfield, the public service and political neutrality

Sir Ashley Bloomfield says it’s crucial public servants maintain their political neutrality, to ensure ongoing trust and confidence in the public service.

Rob Campbell was sacked from his positions as chair of Te Whatu Ora and the Environmental Protection Authority after making comments in a LinkedIn post criticising the National Party’s Three Waters policy. 

Under the Public Service Commission’s code of conduct, directors of Crown entities are supposed to act in a politically impartial manner. 

Sir Ashley has largely kept out of the media since he stepped down as director-general of health in July 2022, but says he wants to be a part of the discussion about political neutrality “because the public service itself is not really in a position to defend itself”. 

He speaks exclusively to The Detail.


Cyclone Gabrielle’s impact on New Zealand’s ‘fruit bowl’

Orchards, vineyards and fields of crops in Hawke’s Bay have been torn apart by Cyclone Gabrielle, destroying people’s homes and livelihoods.

But what are the knock-on effects for consumers?

Silt drying and cracking at a Hawkes Bay orchard. Photo: RNZ/Sally Round

“There’s not only the cost of getting rid of the block, but the whole establishment of a new orchard and then the delay of getting an income from that orchard. So it’s a huge cost and a lot of the growers are facing that, they can’t plant again,” says Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers’ Association president Brydon Nisbet.

“Probably putting it into perspective, if you think about New Zealand, as a major exporter of apples…roughly 15 percent is what comes to the domestic market. So for Hawke’s Bay, the export side is going to be devastating for them,” says Jerry Prendergast, president of fruit and vegetable group United Fresh.


After the storms, what is the future of insurance?

A summer of devastating storms has put the spotlight on the role of insurers when it comes to issues like flood risk and managed retreat.

Storm-damaged homes and land in Auckland. Photo: RNZ

Janine Starks, a former fund manager who writes about insurance, predicts that ‘insurance retreat’ will drive the housing market away from areas at risk of flooding more than government-led ‘managed retreat’ will.

“[They] can either refuse to quote on your property – if it’s got too much risk, you haven’t raised the floor levels, there’s no flood management in place around your house form the local council,” says Starks.

“Or they can just keep increasing the price on you because you are a very risky property that they might expect to flood in a one-in-20-year event.”

Sharon Brettkelly speaks to Starks and Consumer NZ investigative writer Rebecca Styles.


The Detail’s Long Read: At the Mercy of the Ice

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

Photo: Dick McBride/Antarctica New Zealand

This week, it’s At the Mercy of the Ice, written by Ellen Rykers and published in New Zealand Geographic‘s March/April 2023 issue.

You can find the entire article, with maps, original photos, and lots more detail, on the New Zealand Geographic website.

In the Antarctic summer of 1972, four young scientists set off on a trimaran from Cape Bird for a quick outing on a clear day. They would spend the next five days stranded at sea, jumping between ice floes that shattered and sank beneath them, risking their lives with every leap.


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