This week, we looked at the breathless return of international travel, the review into our two competing state-funded weather forecasters, the native birds languishing on the fringes of conservation efforts, went behind the scenes with a bank’s fraud investigations team, and on the ground in the Far North to check out the ruinous state of the crucial roading network.

Whakarongo mai to any episodes you might have missed.


Banks’ endless battles with scammers

When BNZ financial crime investigator Nic Vryenhoek calls a customer to warn them they are being scammed, he’s happy when they are suspicious.

“They should be. My key message is to question everything.

“If someone calls you purporting to be from the bank or anywhere else you should be questioning if they are who they say they are.”

Bank scams are constantly changing, and becoming increasingly sophisticated, with $183 million leaving New Zealanders’ accounts in the past year. But scams still have some aspects in common, and it pays to know what the signs are.

Sharon Brettkelly goes behind the scenes with fraud investigators at the BNZ. 


Taking flight: The post-pandemic travel boom

Does it seem like everyone you know is in Greece, clutching a cocktail and cooking under the Mediterranean sun?

Yeah, me too.

Emirates resumed flights between Dubai and Christchurch on its A380 aircraft in March. Photo: RNZ/Nate McKinnon

International travel is back and it’s booming – and thousands of Kiwis are jetting off to warmer climes as the rest of us shiver our way through winter.

“The demand for travel, which came back very strongly when borders opened, just hasn’t seemed to have eased at all,” says Grant Bradley, the NZ Herald‘s business deputy editor and aviation writer.

Tom Kitchin speaks to Bradley and president of the Travel Agents’ Association of New Zealand Brent Thomas about the return of out-bound tourism, including the costs and the destinations of choice. 


The feud between our two big weather forecasters

In 1992, New Zealand’s Meteorological Service, the oldest scientific institute in the country, was split up. 

MetService took on the duty of day-to-day forecasting. Niwa took on climate research and longer-term forecasts.

More than 30 years later, the two agencies are the subject of a newly-announced government review, spurred in part by Niwa’s decision to directly compete with MetService for lucrative weather forecasting contracts.

“It’s kind of diluting the power of having all these weather records, which is what policy and infrastructure and people’s lives are based on – having really robust information,” says journalist and science writer Paul Gorman.

“You don’t want any confusion when people’s lives or livelihoods are on the line.”


The perilous state of the Far North’s roads

There’s no dodging the Far North’s broken roads for the 73,000 people who live there, or the visitors who venture there.

A crumbling road in the Far North. Photo: The Detail/Sharon Brettkelly

After a decade of neglect, the potholed, crumbling, slumping 2700-kilometre network is described as a “crisis” by one local leader.

Others say it’s pushing up the price of freighting local produce and putting off investors. But worse still is the effect on people needing specialist treatment in Whangārei.

Sharon Brettkelly speaks to locals to find out just how bad the damage is.


The charismatic kākāpō is booming, but its friends need help

On a fenced native reserve in the middle of the North Island, an experiment is underway which could have huge repercussions for our native wildlife.

Four kākāpō have just arrived at Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari near Cambridge, the first time the species has been back on mainland New Zealand in nearly 40 years.

Before the new arrivals at Maungatautari, kākāpō were only found on three islands: Whenua Hou, near Stewart island; Pukenui, in Fiordland; and Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf. Photo: Getty Images

Conservationist and journalist Alison Ballance calls the programme to save the kākāpō miraculous but points out it has been well-resourced because it is such a unique kind of bird. Those same resources are not available for other birds.

Forest & Bird chief executive Nicola Toki says New Zealanders, and the Government in particular, are not taking the threat to native species seriously.

“We have dropped the ball in New Zealand, because we say we’re all about our wildlife – it’s all over our tea towels and our t-shirts and our art and all of that stuff – but we don’t put our money where our mouth is,” she says.


Long Read: Immaculate

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

“Every night, I come out and lie down on the deck. I turn on the flash on my phone and get right down low, to get pictures side-on, because that’s when you see how much growth there really is. It’s very, very rewarding.” Photo: Peter Meecham/New Zealand Geographic

This week, it’s Immaculate, written and read aloud here by Dave Hansford and published in the July-August edition of New Zealand Geographic magazine.

You can find the story, including photos by Peter Meecham, here.

You might spot them on their hands and knees, grid-searching their section for weeds. Spending their Saturday carving perfect stripes—or even diamonds—into their ‘outdoor carpet’. Most of all, you will know them by their works. Meet the lawn addicts.


Check out how to listen to and follow The Detail here.  

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

Leave a comment