How Warner Bros. used The Hobbit to strongarm New Zealand's acting union

Following the smash success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, New Zealand's actors' union pushed for similar compensation and benefits as American actors. This detailed autopsy of how their demands were met with fierce studio lobbying that ended with politicians changing New Zealand's law in favor of the studios. Read the rest

Gays who were charged under discriminatory laws in New Zealand will have records cleaned

Great news from New Zealand this morning. According to the BBC, the nation's government has passed legislation that will allow individuals who were charged under the country's old laws against homosexuality to have their records wiped clean.

Homosexuality was illegal in New Zealand up until 1986. Up until that time, it was possible for men who wanted nothing more than to express their love or to enjoy one another to be slapped with charges with names such as "sodomy, indecency between males and keeping a place of resort for homosexual acts." Anyone charged with these offense before 1986 still has the charge on their official police records. According to the BBC, around 1,000 individuals will have the option to scrub these bullshit charges from their records next year:

Justice Minister Andrew Little said the legislation "sends a clear signal that discrimination against gay people is no longer acceptable, and we are committed to putting right wrongs from the past".

"I would like to apologize again to all the men and members of the rainbow community who have been affected by the prejudice, stigma and other negative effects caused by convictions for historical homosexual offenses," Mr Little said.

In instances where an individual charged under the old laws has passed away, the New Zealand government is making it possible for the families of the deceased to apply to have their charges expunged as well.

Given that New Zealand passed laws banning discrimination against homosexuals in 1993, the official apology from the government and the olive branch of purging the records of those charged under the country's old discriminatory laws has been a long time coming. Read the rest

New Zealand: we'd expel Russian spies but there don't seem to be any here

New Zealand set about expelling any Russians who might be spies, but couldn't find anyone who fit the profile. Apropos of nothing, there is a subreddit called "Maps Without New Zealand" dedicated to world maps that omit the island nation, as if the creator simply forgot that it existed or never knew in the first place. Read the rest

Chris Slane's privacy-oriented editorial cartoons are painfully funny

Online privacy is pretty much a dumpster-fire, but it's a funny dumpster fire in the world of Kiwi editorial cartoonist Chris Slane, whose one-panel strips are hilarious in a kind of oh-shit-we're-doomed kind of way. Read the rest

Students honor teacher at his funeral with a moving haka

When a beloved teacher at Palmerston North Boys' High School in New Zealand passed away in 2015, young men from the school -- both past and present -- performed a rousing haka in his honor. Powerful, literally gave me chills!

A commenter explains:

A little background to this haka I'm apart of the school and new mr tamatea better than most at the school. He was originally one of the creators to this haka and this is our school haka. Only our school and the old boys of the school perform this haka so it is unique to us. Mr tamatea was the head of Maori achievement in our school and he would always try (and successfully so) uphold the Maori traditions not within our school but the entire community. He was involved in one of the leading kapa haka groups in the country i.e the world ( kapa haka group being a group in which perform traditional Maori songs and Hakas) and I believe the Maori culture and maintaining the culture was engrained in his life. So to farewell this awesome teacher we did this haka and the significance of this haka as a farewell and the passion in which the boys performed it with can only be understood by the people who really knew him. But I hope that this helps others around the world understand how fitting that we perform this haka for him.

The teacher, 55-year-old Dawson Tahana Tamatea, was head of Te Reo Maori and Dean of Student Achievement at the school and died in his sleep. Read the rest

Hey, Wellington! I'm headed your way!

I've just finished a wonderful time at the Adelaide Festival and now I'm headed to the last stop on the Australia/New Zealand tour for Walkaway: Wellington! Read the rest

I'm coming to the Adelaide Festival this weekend (and then on to Wellington, NZ!)

I'm on the last two cities in my Australia/NZ tour for my novel Walkaway: today, I'm flying to Adelaide for the Adelaide Festival, where I'm appearing in several program items: Breakfast with Papers on Sunday at 8AM; a book signing on Monday at 10AM in Dymocks at Rundle Mall; "Dust Devils," a panel followed by a signing on Monday at 5PM on the West Stage at Pioneer Women's Memorial Garden; and "Craphound," a panel/signing on Tuesday at 5PM on the East Stage at Pioneer Women's Memorial Garden. Read the rest

Hey, Sydney! I'm coming to see you tonight (then Adelaide and Wellington!)

I'm just about to go to the airport to fly to Sydney for tonight's event, What should we do about Democracy? Read the rest

Hey, Melbourne! I'm coming to see you this week (Sydney, Adelaide and Wellington: you're next!)

I'm typing these words from Perth airport, after a wonderful time at the Perth Festival; my Australiasian tour for Walkaway has four more stops to go: tomorrow and Wednesday, I'll be in Melbourne; then it's off to Sydney; the Adelaide Festival; Wellington Writers and Readers Week and Read the rest

Hey, Australia and New Zealand, I'm coming to visit you!

I'm about to embark on a tour of Australia and New Zealand to support my novel Walkaway, with stops in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and Wellington! I really hope you'll come out and say hello! Read the rest

Anatomy of how crooks use financial secrecy in the UK and New Zealand to rip off international investors with impunity

The financial secrecy regimes in New Zealand and the UK create many opportunities for "jurisdictional regulatory arbitrage," playing each system's weaknesses off against the other to operate in near-perfect secrecy, creating companies whose owners are anonymized but still able to cash out the firms' profits -- an enormous boon to fraudsters who run Ponzi schemes and other dodgy enterprises that rely on the UK and New Zealands' reputation as places of good governance and financial uprightness. Read the rest

Cow family survives New Zealand quake

Three cows were spotted huddled on a column of earth this weekend after a 7.5-magnitude quake struck New Zealand. Two people and many animals were killed in the disaster and its aftershocks. Read the rest

Watch traditional Cook Islands tattooing techniques

Croc Coulter works with an apprentice to revive the lost art of tātatau, traditional tattooing done with sticks and bone. So that's how they made such straight lines in geometric tattoos! Read the rest

New Zealanders raise millions to buy beach and donate it to the public

Awaroa beach -- which was open to all -- in New Zealand's Abel Tasman National Park was privately held by Michael Spackman (a businessman embroiled in complex financial shenanigans) who had decided to sell it; two New Zealanders, fearing that the new owners would use it as a private beach, started a crowdfunding campaign that raised about NZ$2.3m from some 40,000 people to buy it and donate it to the country's national parks system. Read the rest

The Death Way: comic tells the real world story of a 16 year old boy's escape from Syria

Toby Morris (previously) uses animated gifs in his regular cartoon strip for a NZ website; this week, he writes, "I interviewed Hussam, a 16 year old Syrian refugee about how he escaped." Read the rest

Panama Papers: New Zealand is the go-to money launderer for crooked Latin Americans

A joint report by RNZ, TVNZ and Nicky Hager accuses New Zealand of being at the heart of a gigantic money-laundering operation for the corrupt elites of Latin America. Read the rest

Maori wedding haka moves bride to tears in New Zealand

Gave me chills! This epic wedding haka moved a New Zealand bride to tears, and is making everyone on the internet cry, too. Badass as hell. Read the rest

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