All is not well in the VFX industry, Squires

Written By: - Date published: 9:57 am, June 18th, 2013 - 50 comments
Categories: capitalism, film, jobs, john key, overseas investment, same old national, slippery, us politics, workers' rights - Tags: , , , ,

Many in the MSM, NZ film industry and the wider public praise Jackson and Weta for the work it brings to NZ.  Weta, and Weta Digital are the life blood of Sir Peter Jackson’s Hollywood films. From the Lord of the Rings onwards, the visual effects (VFX) have been a major selling point for the films.  Weta Workshops continue with a range of work when not working on Jackson movies.

However, as told by Scott Squires, all is not well for workers in the international VFX industry, who are largely lacking access to union membership due to the conditions of their employment.

Squires (“World industry veteran”- RNZ blurb) and local VFX business owner Sebastian Marino were interviewed by Kathryn Ryan yesterday on RNZ, providing some interesting insights into the industry. Both are originally from the US, and have had to look outside their home country to get work, hence their presence in NZ.  They provide a US-centred perspective on the industry, even while, as for instance in Marino’s case, now living and working in NZ.  This, in itself says something about the state of the industry internationally.

VFX, often confused with Special Effects, are the processes that films are subjected to away from the camera. Special effects are more the fire, smoke and explosions that happen in front of the camera.  So in recent decades VFX are strongly associated with digital technologies.

Ryan seems to have brought Scott into the interview on the basis of a recent survey he did of VFX workers in diverse countries.  Squires reports on the survey is on his blog, showing that all is not well in the industry.  This was a “non-scientific” survey

of visual effects professionals and animators over the course of 2 weeks via twitter, Facebook and this blog

Squires claims that

it’s just a rough gauge of some of the issues for visual effects professionals around the world. Because no one monitors the visual effects industry there is a lack of any real data regarding companies and workers.

The main result of the survey is that, of the 663 who responded, their biggest concern was the lack of compensation for overtime, followed by “Minimizing overtime”, and “Having to move to keep working”.  Poor health insurance coverage and access to vacations are also significant concerns.  The respondents rated their current employers poorly on those issues, as well as on “Pensions”, “Credit placement” and “Deal memo” (“Deal memo is the written employment agreement with your title, rate, dates, etc.”)

Squires adds more background to this, in the Nine-to-Noon interview.

http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/ntn/ntn-20130617-0930-vfx_industry_worker_rights-048.mp3

In introducing the interviews, Ryan provides some statistics of local relevance taken from Squires’ survey: for the Kiwis who responded to the survey, 3% average a 40 hour working week. The rest do about 50-80 hrs in a “normal week”.  More than 40% said they worked more than 100 hrs in busy times: more than in other countries.  In the course of the interview, Ryan refers to input she received by informants from within the industry, who prefer not to be named.

In the interview, Marino responded to a Ryan question about the result of such things as the Hobbit taxpayer subsidies, saying that, everyone in NZ and the NZ industry benefit from the subsidies.  The rest of Marino and Squires responses were about the impact on US VFX workers of such subsidies, and about the current state of the  industry. This contributed to a picture of the US-based Hollywood industry, colonising local non-US industries.  This has resulted in some US-born VFX workers becoming industry “settlers”  in off-shore locations.

VFX workers are in a unique position within the film industry. They are not directly employed by the movie companies but by independent VFX companies, who are granted contracts by the movie studios.  There are only about 6 major corporates making the major Hollywood films, and in recent times, the numbers of trained VFX workers and companies have expanded: all following the carrot of a Hollywood dream.  This makes the competition for VFX contracts pretty intense.  The result is a lot of the less sophisticated “easy” work is contracted to low wage coountries, leaving US-based VFX companies fighting for the remaining “harder” work.

The result of subsidies being offered by non-US governments, mean that the large cohort of US VFX workers need to be prepared to move to countries like NZ for work.  Squires and Marino seem to be oblivious to the impact on the NZ workforce of this influx of skilled US workers.  Their concern was that the US ex-pats need to be able to use their expertise for a wider range of digital work, once they have relocated to NZ with their families.  Marino justified this by saying that the NZ government subsidies are an investment in “getting these very talented people here”: nothing about such subsidies being the basis for training Kiwis to do the work in the future.

Squires said that everyone working on a Hollywood movie has their union/guild, except for those working on VFX.  This is a consequence of not being directly employed by the movie companies.  When Squires started working, on Close Encounters, he was in a union because camera work was involved.  Now people in this work say they don’t need to do that.  US VFX workers don’t have health insurance because, usually it comes from a company. However, when VFX workers are moving from one project and company to another in fragmented way, “where are you going to get your health insurance?”  In past few years, some people have worked for months without any pay.  As a consequence, Squires is asking for a guild that would cover the situation of VFX workers.

Other US-based workers in the industry, echo squires concerns, such as in this online article: ‘VFX in Los Angeles: 100 hour weeks and homeless’; and a post on the Occupy VFX: Visual Effects Artists Before Profits website.

So this is the dubious situation that John Key and Sir Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit Law” and subsidies have contributed to: exploited and increasingly insecure US VFX workers; limited opportunities for Kiwis to become skilled VFX professionals and enter into this increasingly insecure and exploited international workforce; and all in the interests of big profits for the Hollywood studios.

[Update] Scott Squires has responded below to some of the points in this post, providing some extra useful information and comments.  To this point in the post (‘Squires and Marino seem to be oblivious to the impact on the NZ workforce of this influx of skilled US workers.’) Squires’ replied:

I’m not oblivious to it but there is not an ever increasing and steady stream of work. Film projects for vfx work has always been feast or famine. Any place that benefits from subsidies is simply causing work to move from one location to another. These are not creating new jobs in a global sense.  …

See Squires’ comment in full here.

50 comments on “All is not well in the VFX industry, Squires ”

  1. Macro 1

    Sounds just like the match box girls of the 1890’s. So when ARE the young going to revolt?
    journals.hil.unb.ca/index.php/LLT/article/download/4675

  2. Winston Smith 2

    I’m interested to see this John Keys fault, here I was thinking hes the leader of a small country in the South Pacific whereas hes ackshully responsible for the goings on in the VFX industry

    Hes quite the mover and shaker

  3. Thanks for the write up.

    For details of the survey and many more posts about various issues in visual effects check my blog:
    Effects Corner Survey http://effectscorner.blogspot.com/2013/05/visual-effects-working-conditions-survey.html

    25 minutes wasn’t enough to cover all the issues or potential solutions.
    And to clarify a few things here:
    It’s not just US workers who have turned into migrant workers. Workers from Canada, UK, Europe and other areas are likewise having to become migrant workers as well.

    ‘Squires and Marino seem to be oblivious to the impact on the NZ workforce of this influx of skilled US workers.’
    I’m not oblivious to it but there is not an ever increasing and steady stream of work. Film projects for vfx work has always been feast or famine. Any place that benefits from subsidies is simply causing work to move from one location to another. These are not creating new jobs in a global sense. There are only so many films made a year and as a result there are only so many workers required. So the problem is each local area that provides subsidies (UK, Vancouver, etc) trains and educates people in visual effects such that there are probably twice as many or more workers than there is work. That means as soon as a subsidy changes or another location gets more subsidies then those jobs will move. They’re temporal jobs simply based on latest film. Now you end up with a number of unemployed people who have been trained at a specific task without a lot of application to other jobs. This is a poor long term strategy for anyone actually looking for a lasting career.
    It’s also a very poor investment for local governments who could have put the money in to more long term and stable investments.

    The other thing that should be pointed out the reality is the sales pitch of film incentives never matches the reality. Plenty of unbiased research shows the problems for the majority of the people in the area providing those subsidies. Sure, the government has favored a select industry and those who are able to get work in that particular industry are doing well but typically at the loss of others in that area. The tax payers money that is spent on film subsidies could have been used for public good. The return on investment for most subsidies of these types is 13-16 cents for every dollar spent. In most cases it would be better to lower taxes for all businesses in the area or to apply those funds to long term industry or public help (bridges, education, health, etc)

    More information here for those interested in the truth of subsidies:
    Visual Effects Subsidies http://effectscorner.blogspot.com/2012/08/visual-effects-tax-incentives.html

    Keep in mind Weta is the top of what they do and there are a lot of talented and skilled people working there from all over the world. Even without subsidies Weta will be going strong. But since we’re involved in a global industry it’s important for everyone to consider the impact and the future.

    • karol 3.1

      Thanks very much for such a full and detailed response, Scott. I will add a link to your comment in my post.

      For us NZ taxpayers it is useful to get as much information as possible about the impact of these subsidies and law changes impact on the local industry and workers.

    • Gosman 3.2

      This seems to ignore NZ rather unique situation in that Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor set up their own special effects company here and bid for work even if it isn’t filmed in the country. This means it is less dependent on any rebates or subsidies that Government might provide to the film industry. I’m not sure there is a similar set up in places like Australia or Canada. Certainly both Weta companies are world class.

      • karol 3.2.1

        Well, I certainly think Weta is the real success story, while Jackson’s movies ride on that, with the help of subsidies. It also has been made possible by the global digital revolution.

        However, Squires main point is that there are no more jobs internationally, just the same amount of jobs spread around the globe, in a very insecure way.

        Weta does get government grants, in 2009

        Special effects wizards Weta Digital have scored $5.8 million in Government funding for a research partnership.

        Science and Technology Minister Wayne Mapp said Weta’s investment would be on a basis of at least two-for-one.

        “It’s about growing new products and processes for export.”

        The joint partnership with TechNZ – the business investment programme of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology – is intended to accelerate the growth of New Zealand’s strong creative digital industry.

        plus the Hobbit law encompassed workers in the gaming and other digital industries.

        Weta also benefits from the work resulting from government subsidies to Hollywood movies filmed in NZ.

        • Gosman 3.2.1.1

          Isn’t that sort of grants that you lefties are big on promoting as the solution to all our problems?

          Regardless Weta digital is not dependent on the film subsidies/rebates for films to be made here.

          • karol 3.2.1.1.1

            Weta and the film industry are joined at the hip. that’s how Weta was able to be developed. It’s to TOTALLY dependent on subsidies and grants, but they enable them to be more more profitable than they would otherwise.

            I’m not against the grants, per se. however, if the are getting government grants, then they should be providing benefits to the whole of the country, not providing higher benefits to the top tiers and coporates at home and abroad,.

            • Gosman 3.2.1.1.1.1

              They are providing benefits to the whole country. I know very few people apart from hard core leftists like you who object to Weta Digital. Even our flake of a Mayor in Wellington is pro-Weta.

          • Colonial Viper 3.2.1.1.2

            Regardless Weta digital is not dependent on the film subsidies/rebates for films to be made here.

            That’s not what that fucking NZ union-busting (but foreign union supporting) rich prick Peter Jackson, or our Prime Minister, said.

            Isn’t that sort of grants that you lefties are big on promoting as the solution to all our problems?

            Grants to business people already worth hundreds of millions of dollars? No my friend, that’s called corporate welfare and it is the form of socialism that you Righties dream of.

            • Gosman 3.2.1.1.2.1

              No, Peter Jackson issue was with the filming being based here. He would still have likely engaged Weta Digital if not Weta Workshop. Weta Digital does lots of work for films that aren’t actually shot in NZ.

  4. infused 4

    50-100 hours a week, yeah, during production. According to my mate, he “creams it”.

  5. Gosman 5

    Shock horror! Highly paid IT contractors work long hours and have to sort out their own holidays.

    Whatever next? Perhaps you will provide some shocking revelation as to the Roman Catholic faith of the Papacy.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 5.1

      Highly paid? According to whom? Or are you just applying Gosman’s Razor*?

      I note that arts graduates make up the majority of VFX workers. I note that arts graduates are the lowest paid professionals.

      *assume whatever you need to validate your opinion.

      • Gosman 5.1.1

        I know several workers in the visual effects industry in Wellington and they are on a good rate. We are talking in the vicinity of 70 – 90 dollars per hour for a 50 hour week. Even at the lower rate and say working only 40 weeks per year is 140000 per annum. Do you think that is too low?

        • karol 5.1.1.1

          Yes, that is the holy grail that many with high levels of expertise are chasing.

          And what of those internationally that work for months without pay? What of the fact that movie corporates are drawing massive profits, while many VFX workers are not fully compensated for the long hours they work? What of the insecurity of the work, where some go for long periods without work? What of the lack of health insurance, pensions etc, – especially for those working in the industry in the US?

          • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1.1

            Funny how Gossie always assumes him and the people he cares about is going to be accepted into the club of the 10%*, instead of being fucked over like everyone else.

            *I’m becoming aware that everyone in NZ is in the club of the 10% compared to conditions internationally…

            • felix 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Look CV, as long as someone’s doing well then the system is Working. Just. Fine.

              • Colonial Viper

                I once stood within 50m of Peter Jackson and with his radiant aura felt like a capitalist god myself. It was a religious experience.

          • Gosman 5.1.1.1.2

            It isn’t the holy grail. That is the standard rate most visual effects professionals working in the industry would expect to be getting in NZ.

            BTW if you guys are so big on this get them to join a Union. Before you reply that a Union won’t be able to negotiate their contracts for them surely they do more for workers than negotiate employment conditions.

            • felix 5.1.1.1.2.1

              Has everyone met Gosman, visual effects industry expert?

              • Colonial Viper

                Doesn’t Gossie know that without union collectivisation that rate is going to keep deflating over a short amount of time?

                And that many of the workers in the industry are contractors…and when there are no projects on, they get zip.

                • felix

                  Still, $90 an hour is nothing to be sneezed at.

                  Averaged over 12 months that could be as much as 10 grand a year.

                • Gosman

                  Yes and that is why they get the rate of 70 plus per hour. Even if they only worked 20 weeks per year the least they would earn is 70,000. How many NZer’s earn 70,000 for working only 20 weeks?

                  • felix

                    Apart from the one you just made up?

                  • felix

                    ps Gos they don’t “get” 70 plus per hour.

                    That’s what they charge out at. They’re contractors, remember?

                    • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                      This.

                      $70 ph on contract = about $23 ph in the hand = about $46k pa.

                      “Highly paid”? Gosman’s full of shit as usual.

                    • Gosman

                      Ummm… where did you get the $23 per hour figure from?

                    • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                      Stuff published this in February so apologies if it’s old news: VFX artists’ not-so-special treatment.

                    • Gosman

                      Still no mention of the $23 per hour figure. Where did you get this from?

                    • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                      Just a rule of thumb Gossie: contractors (who want to stay in business) need to charge about three times what they expect to earn in salary.

                      Only a rule of thumb, but the point is that if you’re contracting, $70 ph charge-out rate is not your take-home pay: the real figure is significantly lower.

                    • Gosman

                      I’m a contractor earning in the vicinity of those figures and what you state is rubbish. Tax and overheads really only take up 30 to 40 % of the amount not two thirds as you suggest. I take it you aren’t an IT contractor then?

                    • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                      So, it’s not $70k then, is it?

                      More like $42k.

                      Not exactly “highly paid”.

                    • framu

                      you forgot to budget for investment

                      i was always taught the thirds method – 1/3 for tax, 1/3 for equipment/software, 1/3 for your pocket

                    • Gosman

                      1/3 for equipment/Software? What sort of Contractors do you think these are? All of that is largely provided for by the place they work at.

                      Where did you get $42,000 from One Anonymous Knucklehead?

                    • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                      From my knuckle head. It should say $42 ph.

                    • framu

                      sigh – learn to read gosflop – i said it was the method i was taught if your going to be a contractor/freelancer

                      not what every single person working at weta should be doing

              • framu

                “Has everyone met Gosman, visual effects industry expert?”

                hes also a union expert, and lets not forget investment banker – such a busy lad

            • karol 5.1.1.1.2.2

              Did you read my post, Gos? I address why the VFX workers are not unionised and report that Squires is asking for a guild that will cover their circumstances.

              • felix

                Read the post? You think he’s got all day to read posts??

                What with all the visual effects industry work he does every week of the year he barely has time to write comments, let alone read the posts.

              • Gosman

                Well good luck with getting them involved with that.

            • framu 5.1.1.1.2.3

              ” That is the standard rate most visual effects professionals working in the industry would expect to be getting in NZ”

              no its not – your talking complete bollocks again

              yes there are some who would earn that – but some isnt most

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    Photo by Jannis Brandt on UnsplashTL;DR: My pick of the top six links elsewhere around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day or so to 7:00 am are:Investigation: Benefitting from the misery of others. Over 40% of emergency housing funding went to a concentrated group ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    3 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Journal of Record for Wednesday, July 10
    Photo by Mr Cup / Fabien Barral on UnsplashTL;DR: The top six announcements, reports and research around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the day to 6:30 am on Wednesday, July 10 are:Climate: Minister for Transport Simeon Brown announced changes to the Clean Car Importer Standard that ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    3 days ago
  • How rural families are saving thousands with electric vehicles
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Daisy Simmons (Photo credit: Automotive Rhythms / CC BY-NC 2.0) Some people thought Juliana Dockery and her husband Sean were being impractical when they bought an electric vehicle in 2022. Why? Like one in five Americans, they live in a rural area ...
    3 days ago
  • Love to complete it all
    Photo credit: Rob DickinsonThis is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    3 days ago
  • Climate Change: What’s left of the Emissions Reduction Plan?
    In 2019, Parliament, in a supposed bipartisan consensus, passed the Zero Carbon Act. The Act established long-term emissions reduction targets, and a cycle of five-yearly budgets and emissions reduction plans to meet them, with monitoring by the independent Climate Change Commission. In theory this was meant to ensure that the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • The President They Have Got.
    “This cannot be real life!” Confronted with the choice of recommitting themselves to the myth of Joe Biden, or believing the evidence of their own eyes, those Americans not already committed to Donald Trump will reach out instinctively for the President they wish they had – blind to the President they ...
    3 days ago
  • Has Progressivism Peaked?
    Let’s Go Crazy! AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) rarks-up the voters of New York’s 16th Congressional District.HAVE WE MOVED past peak progressivism? Across the planet, there are signs that the surge of support for left-wing causes and personalities, exemplified by the election of the democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC) to the US House ...
    3 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Dawn Chorus for July 9
    TL;DR: The top six things I’ve noted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day are:Labour may be looking at signing up for an Irish style 33% inheritance tax instead of or as well as a capital gains tax;Sam Stubbs has proposed the Government sell ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • Mr Luxon goes to Washington.
    Once fastened servile now your getting sharpMoving oh so swiftly with such disarmI pulled the covers over him shoulda' pulled the alarmTurned to my nemesis a fool no fucking godTuesday morning usually provides something to write about with a regular round of interviews for the Prime Minister across Newshub, TVNZ, ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    4 days ago
  • Kiwirail at Councils Transport & Infrastructure Committee
    Last week at the Council’s Transport and Infrastructure Committee, Kiwirail gave an update about the state of the network and the work they’re doing to get it ready for the opening of the City Rail Link. There were a few aspects that stood out to me so I’ve pulled them ...
    Greater AucklandBy Greater Auckland
    4 days ago
  • Bernard's Pick 'n' Mix for Tuesday, July 9
    Photo by City Church Christchurch on UnsplashTL;DR: The top six links elsewhere I’ve spotted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day to 8:00 am are:Scoop: Waipareira Trust political donations probe referred to Charities Registration Board NZ Herald-$$$’s Matt NippertScoop: Migrant whistleblowers speak out after ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • What’s next after Supreme Court curbs regulatory power: More focus on laws’ wording, less on the...
    This article by Robin Kundis Craig, Professor of Law, University of Kansas is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. Federal Chevron deference is dead. On June 28, 2024, in a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court overturned the 40-year-old legal tenet that when a federal ...
    4 days ago
  • The folly of retreat in the face of defeat
    Note: This is a long readPolitical discourse on social media taught me that bad faith operators and tactics are not only prevalent, they are widespread and effective.Thanks for reading Mountain Tui! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.Their objectives are much narrower than one might imagine.The ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    4 days ago
  • The Parent Zone
    Hi,I am about to wing my way back to New Zealand for the Webworm popup this Saturday in Auckland — can’t wait to see some of you there! In the meantime, I highly recommend the latest pet thread over on the Webworm app. All I’ll say is that readers here ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    4 days ago
  • Tuesday: The Kākā’s Journal of Record for July 9
    Photo by Alex Zaj on UnsplashTL;DR: The top six announcements, speeches, news conferences reports and research around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the day to 6:00 am on Tuesday, July 9 are:Politics: Full news conference: 'Please resign', Chloe Swarbrick tells Darleen Tana RNZ VideoPaper: Increasing speed ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • Breaking up is so hard to do
    The fundamental weakness of the waka jumping legislation is once again on display, as the Greens seem reluctant to trigger it to remove Darleen Tana from Parliament altogether. Tana has been suspended from the Greens Caucus while it had barrister Rachel Burt investigate allegations that she had been involved in ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    4 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on the privatising of state housing provision, by stealth
    Kāinga Ora’s “independent review” was carried out by the same National Party leader whose own administration’s inadequate housing build – and selling of state houses- had caused Kāinga Ora to embark on its crash building programme in the first place. To use a rugby analogy, this situation is exactly like ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    5 days ago
  • “Laser focused on the cost of living crisis”
    Cartoonist credit: Christopher Slane ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    5 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on the elections in France, Iran and Britain
    As Werewolf predicted a week ago, it was premature to call Emmanuel Macron’s snap election call “a bitter failure” and “a humiliating defeat” purely on the basis of the first round results. In fact, it is the far-right that has suffered a crushing defeat. It has come in third in ...
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    5 days ago
  • The UK needs proportional representation
    Like a lot of people, I spent Friday watching the UK election. There's the obvious joy at seeing the end of 14 years of Tory chaos, but at the same time the new government does not greatly enthuse me. In order to win over the establishment, Starmer has moved UK ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Bernard's Chorus for Monday, July 8
    TL;DR: Thanks for the break, and now I’m back. These are the top six things I’ve noted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day or so:Chris Bishop’s pledge to ‘flood the market’ with land to build new houses both out and up remains dependent ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • French Left Wins Big
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    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    5 days ago
  • Satire: It's great our Prime Minister is so on the ball
    ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    5 days ago
  • This is the real reason David Seymour needs to reinterpret the Treaty of Waitangi
    This is republished from an earlier write upDavid Seymour is part of the ACT Party. He's backed by people like Alan Gibbs, and Koch money. He grew up as a right wing lobbyist - tick tick tick. All cool and fine - we know.What's also been clear is a fervent ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    5 days ago
  • Going for Housing Growth: Filling the housing donut?
    Hot take: it should be affordable to live in Auckland. You may not be surprised to learn I’m not the only one with this hot take. Indeed, the Minister of Housing recently took the notable step of saying house prices should come down, something common wisdom says should be a politically ...
    Greater AucklandBy Scott Caldwell
    5 days ago
  • Bernard's Pick 'n' Mix for Monday July 9
    TL;DR: As of 6:00 am on Monday, July 9, the top six links elsewhere I’ve spotted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day or so are:Scoop: Probation officer sacked for snooping is linked to alleged spy Jian Yang. Corrections dismissed Xu Shan over his ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • What has the Government done for you so far?
    List effective 1 July 2024Consumer and household (note: road and car costs are under infrastructure)Cancelled half-price public transport fares for under-25s and free fares for under-13s funding, scrapping the Labour government-era subsidies. The change will not affect pre-existing discounts funded directly by councils.Cut funding for free budgeting services. One third of the ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    5 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Journal of Record for Monday, July 8
    Photo by Amador Loureiro on UnsplashTL;DR: As of 6:00 am on Monday, July 8, the top six announcements, speeches, reports and research around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last three days were:Local Government Minister Simeon Brown announced the Coalition Government would not be responding to ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • The Kākā’s diary for the week to July 15 and beyond
    TL;DR: The six key events to watch in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy in the week to July 15 include:PM Christopher Luxon is travelling to Washington this week to attend a NATO meeting running from Tuesday to Thursday. Parliament is not sitting this week.The RBNZ is expected to hold the OCR on ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • 2024 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #27
    A listing of 31 news and opinion articles we found interesting and shared on social media during the past week: Sun, June 30, 2024 thru Sat, July 6, 2024. Story of the week Our Story of the Week is brought to us by Dr. Ella Gilbert, a researcher with the British ...
    5 days ago
  • The Great Splintering: Thoughts on the British Election
    I can remember 1997. Even living on the other side of the world, having a Scottish father and Welsh grandfather meant I acquired a childhood knowledge of British politics via family connections (and general geekery). And yes, I inherited the dark legends of that evil folk-devil, Margaret Thatcher. So when ...
    5 days ago
  • 2% royalties for mining? Deal!
    Snapshot postToday, Shane Jones was courageous enough to front Q&A with Jack Tame. Thanks for reading Mountain Tui ! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.Jack Tame is a bit of a legend. And that’s only because he strikes me as a good journalist i.e. well ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    5 days ago
  • Aotearoa Says – No Diggity.
    Strictly biz, don't play aroundCover much ground, got game by the poundGetting paid is a forteEach and every day, true player wayOne month ago tens of thousands of Kiwis took to the streets to protest against the coalition’s Fast Track legislation. Concerned that it would prioritise some people making a ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    6 days ago
  • Strangers and others
    For a moment yesterday I thought I might have been trailing my old friend Simon Wilson across the Danube, over cobbled stones, and into the old town square of Linz. Same comfortable riding style, same jacket, same full head of hair, but no, different friend of cycling.There is a kindred ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    6 days ago
  • Killing the Golden Goose of New Zealand's economy
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    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    7 days ago
  • Newshub Signs Off
    Wait for the night, for the light at the end of an era'Cause it's love at the end of an eraThe last episode of Newshub, the final instalment of TV3 News, aired last night. Many of us who took the time to watch felt sad and nostalgic looking back over ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    7 days ago
  • The Pharmac Fiasco
    If you don’t understand how things work you make foolish mistakes. To explain how the government got into its cancer drugs muddle, we need to explain first how New Zealand’s pharmaceutical purchasing system works. There is a parallel between Pharmac and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. The Government sets ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • An unexpected honour.
    One can take many things as a budge of honour but this was somewhat unexpected. Was it something that I said? See line 3: https://mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1959715/ ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • An Ode to the British Tories
    The legend Jonathan Pie nails it in under 5 minutes. There is more, of course, but his summary is both fair and an outstanding take on the UK Conservative Party’s right wing legacy.Austerity, cuts to the public service, trickle down economics, corruption, policies favouring corporations and the wealthy, underinvesting in ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    1 week ago
  • Knives out for Kāinga Ora
    Note this a longer read.TLDR: Bishop had always intended to shortchange Kāinga Ora and malign the Board and Executive. The $500,000 independent review of Kāinga Ora was anything but, and poses serious ethical issues in both conduct and outcomes. Kāinga Ora had a debt to assset ratio of 0.25 when ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    1 week ago
  • Something's going to change
    If you’re selling your soul, working all dayOvertime hours for bullshit payNothing’s gonna change if all you do Is wish you could wake up and it not be trueJoin a union, fight for better payJoin a union, brother, organise todayYou’ll see where the problem really liesWhen the union comes around: ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Weekly Roundup 5-July-2024
    Welcome to the second half of the year! And another roundup of stories that caught our eye over the week. As always, feel free to add anything we’ve missed, in the comments. The fortnight on Greater Auckland Last week was a short week, but nonetheless action-packed: On Monday, ...
    Greater AucklandBy Greater Auckland
    1 week ago
  • How the team of 5 million lost the game
    A study of the 2020 election has found that though the swing to Labour was the biggest vote shift in New Zealand for more than a century, it was not structural. Indeed, the fundamental electoral forces that drove the result were not dissimilar to those that had emerged in the ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    1 week ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #27 2024
    Open access notables Climate-driven deoxygenation of northern lakes, Jansen et al., Nature Climate Change: Oxygen depletion constitutes a major threat to lake ecosystems and the services they provide. Most of the world’s lakes are located >45° N, where accelerated climate warming and elevated carbon loads might severely increase the risk of ...
    1 week ago

  • District Court judges appointed
    Attorney-General Hon Judith Collins today announced the appointment of three new District Court Judges.   The appointees, who will take up their roles in July and August at the Manukau, Rotorua and Invercargill courts, are:   Matthew Nathan Judge Nathan was admitted to bar in New Zealand in 2021, having previously been ...
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    14 hours ago
  • Urgent review into Wairoa flood response begins
    Environment Minister, Penny Simmonds today announced the terms of reference for a rapid review into the Wairoa flood response. “The Wairoa community has raised significant concerns about the management of the Wairoa River bar and the impact this had on flooding of properties in the district,” says Ms Simmonds. “The Government ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    16 hours ago
  • NZDF’s Red Sea deployment extended
    New Zealand has extended its contribution to the US-led coalition working to uphold maritime security in the Red Sea, Defence Minister Judith Collins and Foreign Minister Winston Peters announced today. “The decision to extend this deployment is reflective of the continued need to partner and act in line with New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Government provides support to tackle tax debt and compliance
    New compliance funding in Budget 2024 will ensure Inland Revenue is better equipped to catch individuals who are evading their tax obligations, Revenue Minister Simon Watts says. “New Zealand’s tax debt had risen to almost $7.4 billion by the end of May, an increase of more than 50 per cent since 2022. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Taking action to reduce road cones
    The Coalition Government is taking action to reduce expenditure on road cones and temporary traffic management (TTM) while maintaining the safety of workers and road users, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.  Rolling out a new risk-based approach to TTM that will reduce the number of road cones on our roads.  ...
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    22 hours ago
  • Celebrating 100 years of progress
    Te Arawa Lakes Trust centenary celebrations mark a significant milestone for all the important work done for the lakes, the iwi and for the Bay of Plenty region, says Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti and Māori Development Minister Tama Potaka. The minister spoke at a commemorative event acknowledging 100 years ...
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    1 day ago
  • Foreign Minister to travel to Korea and Japan
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters will travel to the Republic of Korea and Japan next week.    “New Zealand enjoys warm and enduring relationships with both Korea and Japan. Our relationships with these crucial partners is important for New Zealand’s ongoing prosperity and security,” says Mr Peters.    While in the ...
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    2 days ago
  • Huge opportunity for educators and students as charter school applications open
    Associate Education Minister David Seymour says today is another important step towards establishing charter schools, with the application process officially opening.  “There has already been significant interest from groups and individuals interested in opening new charter schools or converting existing state schools to charter schools,” says Mr Seymour. “There is ...
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    2 days ago
  • Decreasing gas reserves data highlights need to reverse oil and gas exploration ban
    MBIE’s annual Petroleum Reserves report detailing a 20 per cent reduction in New Zealand’s natural gas reserves shows the need to reverse the oil and gas exploration ban, Energy Minister Simeon Brown says.“Figures released by MBIE show that there has been a 20 per cent reduction in New Zealand’s natural ...
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    2 days ago
  • Providers of military assistance to Russia targeted in new sanctions
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters has announced further sanctions as part of the Government’s ongoing response to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.    “Russia’s continued illegal war of aggression against Ukraine is a direct and shocking assault on the rules-based order. Our latest round of sanctions targets Russians involved in that ...
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    2 days ago
  • OECD report shows New Zealand is a red tape state
    Minister for Regulation David Seymour says that the OECD Product Market Regulation Indicators (PMRI) released this morning shows why New Zealanders sorely need regulatory reform. “This shocker result should end any and all doubt that the Government must go to war on red tape and regulation,” says Mr Seymour.  “The ...
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    2 days ago
  • Government unveils five-point climate strategy
    The coalition Government is proud to announce the launch of its Climate Strategy, a comprehensive and ambitious plan aimed at reducing the impacts of climate change and preparing for its future effects, Climate Change Minister Simon Watts says. “The Strategy is built on five core pillars and underscores the Government’s ...
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    3 days ago
  • National Bowel Screening Programme reaches 2 million life-saving screening kits
    The National Bowel Screening Programme has reached a significant milestone, with two million home bowel screening kits distributed across the country, Health Minister Dr Shane Reti announced today.   “This programme, which began in 2017, has detected 2,495 cancers as of June 2024. A third of these were at an early ...
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    3 days ago
  • Granny flats popular with all ages
    More than 1,300 people have submitted on the recent proposal to make it easier to build granny flats, RMA Reform Minister Chris Bishop and Building and Construction Minister Chris Penk say. “The strong response shows how popular the proposal is and how hungry the public is for common sense changes to make ...
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    3 days ago
  • $25 million boost for conservation
    Toitū te taiao – our environment endures!  New Zealanders will get to enjoy more of our country’s natural beauty including at Cathedral Cove – Mautohe thanks to a $25 million boost for conservation, Conservation Minister Tama Potaka announced today.  “Te taiao (our environment) is critical for the country’s present and ...
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    3 days ago
  • New Zealand increases support for Ukraine
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Foreign Minister Winston Peters have announced a further $16 million of support for Ukraine, as it defends itself against Russia’s illegal invasion. The announcement of further support for Ukraine comes as Prime Minister Luxon attends the NATO Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC. “New Zealand will provide an additional ...
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    3 days ago
  • Country Kindy to remain open
    Associate Education Minister David Seymour says that Country Kindy in Manawatu will be able to remain open, after being granted a stay from the Ministry of Education for 12 weeks. “When I heard of the decision made last week to shut down Country Kindy I was immediately concerned and asked ...
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    3 days ago
  • Government lifts Indonesian trade cooperation
    New export arrangements signed today by New Zealand and Indonesia will boost two-way trade, Trade and Agriculture Minister Todd McClay says. Mr McClay and Dr Sahat Manaor Panggabean, Chairman of the Indonesia Quarantine Authority (IQA), signed an updated cooperation arrangement between New Zealand and Indonesia in Auckland today. “The cooperation arrangement paves the way for New Zealand and Indonesia to boost our $3 billion two-way trade and further ...
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    3 days ago
  • Carbon capture framework to reduce emissions
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    3 days ago
  • Faster consenting with remote inspections
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    4 days ago
  • Revision programme presented to Parliament
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    4 days ago
  • Government aligns Clean Car Importer Standard with Australia to reduce vehicle prices for Kiwis
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    4 days ago
  • NZQA Board appointments
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    4 days ago
  • More support for Wairoa clean-up
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    7 days ago
  • Minister thanks outgoing Secretary for Education
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    1 week ago
  • Minister concludes local government review
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    1 week ago
  • Consultation begins on new cancer medicines
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    1 week ago
  • 50 years on, Niue and NZ look to the future
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    1 week ago
  • Upgrading system resulting in faster passport processing
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    1 week ago
  • Roads of National Significance moving at pace
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    1 week ago
  • New school for Flat Bush
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    1 week ago
  • Dr Shane Reti's speech to Iwi-Maori Partnership Boards, Rotorua
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    1 week ago
  • Announcement of Mental Health Targets and Mental Health and Addiction Community Sector Innovation Fu...
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    1 week ago
  • Expert panel appointed to review Public Works Act
    An independent expert advisory panel has been appointed to review the Public Works Act to make it easier to build infrastructure, Minister for Land Information Chris Penk has announced.  “The short, sharp review demonstrates the Government’s commitment to progressing critical infrastructure projects and reducing excessive regulatory and legislative barriers, so ...
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    1 week ago
  • Resources Minister heads to Australia with message – ‘NZ is open for business’
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    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister’s scholarships awarded
    New Zealand’s ability to engage with key trading partners is set to grow further with 20 scholarships awarded for groups to gain education experiences across Asia and Latin America, Tertiary Education and Skills Minister, Penny Simmonds says. Of the 20 scholarships, 12 have been awarded to groups travelling for study ...
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    1 week ago
  • Next steps for Northwest Rapid Transit underway
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