Bringing you the best weekly reading from your friendly local website.
This week the country was shaken by the news of English backpacker Grace Millane, who was murdered on the eve of her 22nd birthday. We spent a lot of time here at The Spinoff considering how to cover the horrific story. What was useful? How could we help? What did people need to read at a time of such widely felt grief? Emily Writes spoke about how rules won’t save women, and the conversations we should be having with our boys instead. The On the Rag team compiled a list of ways we could use our outrage effectively. Waveney Russ reminded us it was ok to feel traumatised, even if we didn’t know Grace personally. And Jihee Junn wrote a beautiful and poignant essay on why solo travel is even more important in the aftermath of such an event.
Here’s what else you were reading on The Spinoff this week:
“Yesterday the minister of justice, Andrew Little, castigated offshore media companies that had, outside New Zealand’s jurisdiction, chosen to name the accused. In the main, those outlets have at least geoblocked these stories, meaning they’re not immediately accessible from New Zealand. Little also added his voice to repeated pleas from the Police for social media users not to post the name of the accused. Over recent years we’ve grown used to angry, vengeful or attention-seeking social media users posting suppressed names. The digital titans’ typical response has been to throw their arms in the air. We’re impotent! We’ll do something if you alert us to it! Maybe!
But this is next-level. You didn’t have to go searching to find the name on the internet. Google put it right in your inbox. You didn’t even need to click to open the email. His name was in the subject field.”
Need some last minute Christmas present ideas? Why not support Māori-owned business while you’re at it? A broad and comprehensive list of ways to support Māori businesses in this, the capitalist hell-season.
Ben Stanley: When a chief dies: the Aaron Hopa story
“Just before the end of the game, Waikato had a lineout five metres from the home team’s line. The ball had been slapped back towards Auckland, and Brooke was ghosting it into touch.
In dived Aaron Hopa of Gordonton, right between Zinnie’s legs, scooping up the ball with his long black mullet flowing – and scoring a try.
Anyone watching will tell you that Brooke, one of the greatest All Blacks of all-time, had a look of ‘who the hell is this guy?’ on his face.
Anyone telling the story will tell you that Hops stood up in front of Zinnie, handed him the ball and told him, cool as you like; ‘I’m fucking ready now, bro.'”
In the first of an incredible series on the major New Zealand media companies, sourced through anonymous conversations with senior executives, Duncan Greive assesses the state of NZ’s biggest TV network.
“It’s Christmastime! And Christmastime means Christmas music. And not just those fancy school choirs and buskers with violins, but a whole genre of pop music that you’re reminded of every year in early-December. Y’know – ‘Fairytale of New York’, ‘Merry Xmas (War Is Over)’, ‘Last Christmas’, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ All instantly recognisable. All signifiers of this most special time of year anywhere in the world where this is a most special time of year. (And all on Now That’s What I Call Christmas.)
But there’s one song that means Christmas here in New Zealand more than it does anywhere else in the world. And it’s not remotely a New Zealand song. It’s recorded by an American group for an American label and is about a quintessentially American character. Yes, it’s ‘Snoopy’s Christmas’ by 60s novelty pop band The Royal Guardsmen.”
Madeleine Chapman: Why is Christchurch Hospital displaying photos of staff in blackface?
“It’s at Christmastime that New Zealanders buy more mince pies and glazed cherries. It’s at Christmastime that New Zealand’s spirit lifts. And it’s at Christmastime, apparently, that New Zealanders get back into blackface. Zwarte Piet, the Dutch folklore character, has long divided opinion around the world and only recently was discontinued at New Zealand Christmas parades, though he still made an appearance in Rotorua last weekend. But while ‘traditionalists’ bring up the long history of Zwarte Pete in defence of its blackface, other New Zealanders have been enjoying the racist practice on their own, just for fun.
Every year, the urology department of Christchurch Hospital dresses up thematically for a Christmas staff photo. Themes have been wide-ranging, from James Bond, to Survivor, to the royal family, to American politics. The images are well-curated – clearly a lot of effort has been put into them – and are currently on public display in a level three hallway of Christchurch Hospital.
Here they are.”
“When the big day rolled around and The Strip aired I watched it with my landline gripped in my sweaty hand. I was on the phone to my best friend and we basically screamed the whole way through the show. Every time Robbie Magasiva or Taika Waititi came onto the screen we groaned with lust. This was not normal. We had a strange line we had to walk as teenage girls. In order to not be perceived as sluts, we needed to not be horny – but my god, we were as horny as the boys were. To not be considered frigid, we needed to show interest in boys – but not too much. It was a time of dizzying hypocrisy for us, and The Strip stripped us bare.
If you’re unlucky enough to have not seen The Strip, the premise is this: Corporate lawyer Melissa Walker quits her job and starts a male strip club after finding her husband in bed with his lover. The strip club is called Man Alive.”
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.