Fairfax milks the cash cow

Written By: - Date published: 11:56 am, July 1st, 2008 - 26 comments
Categories: Media - Tags: , ,

It was bound to happen. The Herald did it about a year ago and now Fairfax is following suit. Getting rid of subeditors who actually live in the same town as the paper for which they write. In their place Fairfax is offering New Zealander newspaper readers Centres of Editorial Expertise.

The trouble is that we lose valuable local knowledge in the exchange. Subeditors tend to be people who’ve been round a while. They are repositories of invaluable local lore and history. They know how people’s names are spelt, they know the geography of the place, they know who’s feuding who, who used to own that business and how so and so made his money. Often times, they hold a whole town’s institutional knowledge.

So I wearily predict that, despite the Excellently Named Centres of Editorial Expertise we will see a lowering of standards and accuracy in our daily papers. And all the while journalists do more and more with less and less. That’s why press releases are sometimes printed verbatim. Journos simply don’t have the resources to do the who, what, where, when, why and how digging that used to come with the beat.

And unsurprisingly, there was a ‘commercial imperative’ to the creation of these Centres of Expertise. About 40 well paid, highly skilled jobs will go. For good. So it wasn’t all for our betterment, education and enlightenment after all.

But we still love our newspapers. New Zealanders are better read than almost everybody. We buy more newspapers per capita than Australians and that’s why Fairfax loves us – we’re the perfect cash cow equation: costs down = profits up.

The newspapers involved are: The Dominion Post, The Press, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald and The Southland Times and the evening Waikato Times, Manawatu Standard, Nelson Mail and Marlborough Express.

26 comments on “Fairfax milks the cash cow”

  1. really good post, eddie. and then i go and spoil it all by doing something stupid like posting on top of you.

    I can’t believe they’re firing journalists when everyone agrees the problem with the media is not enough journalists.

    But for David Kirk et al, it’s all about profits.

  2. Vanilla Eis 2

    Having grown up in the Waikato I can say that the Waikato Times was hardly a bastion of journalistic excellence, even without staff cuts. I shudder to think of what it might look like in a few years time.

    Seeing as that list covers all of the major Fairfax owned newspapers, I’m forced to ask: what positions are they retaining, if any?

  3. randal 3

    apparently the subs they have now aren’t skilled enough. what a load of claptrap.

  4. Lew 4

    VE: They’re retaining some staff for subediting of local content in each office (I’d guess that’s a couple of FTEs each, at most), and concentrating the remainder of the sub jobs in Wellington and Christchurch, in `sub hubs’, prompting Denis Welch to call them `hubeditors’ this morning.

    I’m not sure how the maths works out on this. Subediting is a hard job (one of the jobs which made me decide journo skool wasn’t for me) and subs have a harder, not easier job now than it was, since journalists are under greater pressure to produce content, which means the content they produce is generally of a lower standard. I believe the total number of subs was about 190, so a 20% drop sounds like it might just mean a 20% increase in work for those who remain. They will have economies of scale, but Thompson explicitly said they were not moving to a common content model, and that’s where the primary gains will be made, to my mind.

    L

  5. Nedyah Hsan 5

    Fairfax are milking the cash cow even more with NZ’ers reticence over not looking further than TradeMe.
    $5 to find a flatmate, $50 to advertise a rental – those are some pretty steep price rises, but still the hoi polloi flock to it.
    Why? Lack of education? Lack of searching for free/cheaper sites?
    Zillion, Sella, all far cheaper than fairfaxes grossly exaggerated $700mil dead weight.

  6. r0b 6

    Is the Otago Daily Times the last remaining major daily in independent hands?

    If so, is it likely to remain so? (Anyone from Sunny Dunedin know?)

    How can the continued consolidation of the print media in NZ be anything but a slowly unfolding disaster? How long before it’s all Faux news all the time?

  7. Tane 7

    Yeah, Allied Press own the ODT and the Greymouth Star. The rest of the dailies, and practically all the local weeklies, are owned by Fairfax or APN.

  8. r0b 8

    And the Greymouth Star. Well that’s all right then. Panic over.

    Sorry – don’t mean to be rude to Greymouth, had brilliant fish & chips there a couple of times. Also had to dig my van out of the sand after camping on the beach. Happy days.

  9. insider 9

    One of the most important things good subs do that you haven’t necessarily highlighted is teach – they teach new reporters how to refine their writing, they teach about angles, they teach about the importance of facts.

    My worry is that not only will the local knowledge be lost but also the hands on education young reporters can get having a discussion about what is news and how you present it with a sub who has sent back their copy with a ‘please rewrite’ note on it.

    But you get what you pay for, and people are less and less willing to pay for newspapers.

    Maybe we need ‘Kiwipaper’. Where’s Jim bolger when we want him?

  10. Eddie 10

    Nearly 100% of NZ media is owned by foreigners who don’t live here. I’ve got a hunch this ain’t no good thing for democracy, especially when more and more of the media are sounding like political players rather than commentators.

  11. Lew 11

    insider: “Maybe we need ‘Kiwipaper’.”

    I wondered aloud about just such a thing on this blog a month or so ago, but I’m not convinced it’d fly.

    The rest of your points (about the sub role) are good too, by the way.

    L

  12. insider 12

    Lew

    thanks but it was a joke…

    Eddie

    APN and FFx are both listed companies. There is nothign stopping NZers buying the majority of shares if they thought it was important. Nor is there anything stopping the entry of new media.

  13. Lew 13

    Insider: I know 🙂

    But I was serious about the rest of your comment.

    L

  14. Felix 14

    There is nothign stopping NZers buying the majority of shares if they thought it was important.

    Another joke?

  15. insider 15

    Felix, I don;t think we want to have another thread about the need for tax cuts, but thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  16. Tane 16

    Bill Rosenberg has done a very comprehensive study on media ownership here (pdf) if anyone’s particularly interested.

  17. Anybody still think we have independent media that has our (the people) interest at heart and wants to do its job of keeping us informed about what really matters to us? You know like what are our local politicians up to or our national ones. LOL. Or what about some independent international news, like Bush edging to begin a nuclear war with Iran perhaps.

  18. randal 18

    look the press in New Zealand is busy fulltime infantilising the population with blandishments for useless items and articles..and the funny thing is it works.

  19. Draco TB 19

    Nor is there anything stopping the entry of new media

    Yes there is. The cost to set it up, get it printed, distributed etc. How much of a loss is it going to take before (if) it starts paying for itself?

    I actually do think that we need ‘Kiwinews’ simply because, as the media giants keep cutting costs, the journalists become less informed resulting in a less informed populace. As the populace becomes less informed our democracy crumbles. We need good journalism and we’re not getting it from the private sector.

  20. Lew 20

    Felix, DTB: I considered a reply along the same lines as yours, but Draco, all the factors you list are simply the nature of the media ecology. Indeed, nothing does prevent a new media outlet from entering the ecology; all these factors would only prevent it from succeeding commercially, unless it was very, very good indeed.

    L

  21. insider 21

    Draco

    Set up costs are faced by any new entrant in any business. It is hardly unusual.

  22. ghostwhowalks 22

    Insider , setup costs are faced by any new entrant !!

    Thats why the aussies started their titles from scratch, hired 100 journos and sub editors, plonked down 120 million for a printing plant, set up a distribution system, and sales staff and waited for the avalanche of readers.

    The 1920s were probably too late to start a daily newspaper.
    Was ithe Auckland Sun was the last attempt, but of Course NZH spent twice as much as the startup to make sure it failed( locking in advertisers, paying the staff heaps to stay)

  23. Draco TB 23

    Set up costs are faced by any new entrant in any business. It is hardly unusual.

    True but this prevents these from being a barrier to entry how exactly?

  24. Thanks Tane,

    Interesting read.

  25. bill brown 25

    An interesting discussion on National Radio’s panel highlighted the state of the MSM.

    This story appeared in the DP yesterday:

    Kiwi exodus to Oz likely before election

    However it was shown that this was a completely wrong take on the talk given as heard here (starting about 06:30 in)

    The Panel (Part 2)

    In addition there is an interesting discussion with regards the SST article on the The grass isn’t greener across the ditch article earlier.

  26. One thing I absolutely hate about Fairfax is the number of puff pieces for TradeMe auctions. It’s just ridiculous – we do not need to hear about the stupid auctions people are running. But if we MUST read about them, I want the biggest, most obvious disclaimer to say that Fairfax is the owner of TradeMe. Even if most people are aware of the ownership, this is still a blatant conflict of interest and cheap and shoddy journalism.

    New Zealand media are in dire straits – no public television and the few senior journalists which worked for TVNZ (such as John Stewart) were cut in 2007, minimal quality print media and a funding-starved and stale public radio service. Above all the media are incredibly “unintellectual” – the Sunday Star-Times must surely be written for the level of a five year old. Interestingly the language level of Fairfax papers seems to be much lower than APN (excluding Herald on Sunday). And the ODT is streets ahead of both in terms of accuracy in grammar…

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    1 week ago
  • Government spin accepted by union leadership
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    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Forbidden Thoughts
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    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Much love to my loyal Ukrainian readership
    For some reasons, my post about the mystery message from inside the Downing Street bunker seemed to catch people's attention.  Quite a lot of hits from NZ (unsurprisingly) and the USA (a bit more puzzlingly, but hi there, USAians!!) and 76 views from the Ukraine.I've celebrated my Ukrainian readers in ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Another day of bonkers GNUmours (again, sorry)
    First, almost a score of Labour MPs seem to have sent a letter to the EU basically begging them to accept a deal - any deal - just so Britain can get the Heck on with Brexiting instead of being trapped in limbo:
    To avoid no deal, deliver on the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour vs working class immigrants – again!
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    2 weeks ago
  • Speak Up for Women press statement: on Massey University and Feminism 2020
    The following was released yesterday (Tues, October 8) by the women’s liberation organisation Speak Up for Women. On 23 September Speak Up For Women announced that we would be holding an event at the Massey University Theaterette in Wellington. The event is called Feminism 2020. The intention of the event ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Farmers support dirty rivers
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • No-one cares about local government
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The political ghosts of eugenics may matter more than the genetic
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    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • “Surplus” again
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Inside the Downing Street bunker
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    2 weeks ago
  • Taking Control Of The Nation’s Story.
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  • Are GNUs extinct?
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    2 weeks ago
  • Labour chickens out again
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Transgender extremism, violence at work against feminist meeting at British Labour Party conference
    by Nick Rogers The debate around the meaning of sex and gender made an appearance at this year’s British Labour Party conference in Brighton. Women’s Place UK – an organisation that questions the demand that biological males who self-identify as woman should have access to women’s spaces, to all-women shortlists, ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Rebelling in Wellington
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

  • Methane reducing cattle feed one step closer
    The Government today announced its support for a project that could substantially reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions from cattle. The announcement was made as part of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s visit to Nelson’s Cawthron Aquaculture Park. The Cawthron Institute will receive $100,000 from the Government’s ...
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    2 days ago
  • Bill to refresh superannuation system passes first reading
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    2 days ago
  • Government announces next steps in fight against measles
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    2 days ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, Pacific Futures: Connections, Identity...
    ***Check against delivery*** Good morning. It is a pleasure to be here, and to have the honour of opening this important conference on behalf of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs. Let us take the opportunity to acknowledge all the people who have helped make today possible, including our special ...
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    2 days ago
  • Police trial new response to high risk events
    Police Minister Stuart Nash says the safety of frontline officers and members of the public will be the focus of a new trial of specialist Police response teams in three of our largest urban centres. Police have this morning released details of an initiative to be trialled in Counties Manukau, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New awards celebrate fisheries sustainability
    The Minister of Fisheries is calling for entries for a new public award to celebrate innovation in our seafood sector. “I have established the Seafood Sustainability Awards to recognise and celebrate those throughout industry, tangata whenua and communities who demonstrate outstanding dedication and innovation towards the sustainability of New Zealand’s ...
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    2 days ago
  • More progress for women and we can do more
    Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter welcomes leaders in the private sector taking action on closing their gender pay gaps to ensure a fairer workplace for all New Zealanders. Ms Genter today launched a new report, Addressing the gender pay gap and driving women’s representation in senior leadership, from the Champions for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Proposals to curb environmental damage help our coasts and the oceans
    Government Ministers today welcomed the release of a marine environment report highlighting the four key issues affecting our oceans, estuaries and coastlines.  The release underlines the importance of government proposals to combat climate pollution, ensure clean freshwater, protect biodiversity, make land use more sustainable, and reduce waste and plastic.    Environment ...
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    3 days ago
  • New mental health facility for Waikato
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • 500 new te reo Māori champions in our classrooms
    The Government is making progress on its goal to integrate te reo Māori into education by 2025, with over 500 teachers and support staff already graduating from Te Ahu o te Reo Māori,  Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis announced today. Kelvin Davis made the announcement at an awards ceremony in Waikanae today, for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Minister James Shaw welcomes 2018 Census first release
    Statistics Minister James Shaw has welcomed the first release of 2018 Census data. The first release of data today, 23 September, includes key data on population, regional growth, the number of homes and the size of different ethnic groups in New Zealand. Data from the 2018 Census will support the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Driving transparency, ethics and accountability in government use of algorithms
    Minister for Statistics James Shaw today announced a public consultation on a proposed algorithm charter for government agencies. The charter has been developed by the Government Chief Data Steward in response to growing calls for more transparency in government use of data. Computer algorithms – procedures or formulas for solving ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand and the Netherlands working together on climate change
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, Climate Change Minister James Shaw and visiting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte co-hosted a business roundtable in Auckland this morning focused on working together to address climate change.  “The Netherlands is an important partner for New Zealand. We share a strong agricultural history. Sustainable agribusiness and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Protecting fairness for workers and businesses
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Indigenous Freshwater Fish Bill Passes
    The future for New Zealand’s threatened indigenous freshwater fish looks brighter with the passing of the Conservation (Indigenous Freshwater Fish) Amendment Bill in Parliament today said Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage. “Until now, our freshwater fish legislation has been 20 years out of date. We have lacked effective tools to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Kiwis to take part in world’s biggest earthquake drill
    At 1.30pm tomorrow, hundreds of thousands of Kiwis will join about 65 million people around the globe in ShakeOut, the world’s biggest earthquake drill. The annual drill is to remind people of the right action to take during an earthquake which is to Drop, Cover, Hold, and to practise their ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Rising wages and low inflation supporting Kiwis
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • NZ economy strong amid global headwinds
    New Zealand’s economic strength and resilience has been recognised in a major update on the state of the global economy. The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook released overnight shows a reduced global growth forecast over the next two years as issues like the US-China trade war and Brexit take hold. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Keeping New Zealanders safer with better counter-terrorism laws
    Justice Minister Andrew Little has today introduced a new Bill to prevent terrorism and support the de-radicalisation of New Zealanders returning from overseas. The Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill gives the New Zealand Police the ability to apply to the High Court to impose control orders on New Zealanders who ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Improved succession and dispute resolution core of Ture Whenua changes
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    4 days ago
  • Speech to CTU Biennial Conference
    Let me first thank all the new unionists and members in the room. There is nothing more important to improving people’s working lives than people making the decision to care, to get on board and help, to take up the reins and get involved. Congratulations to you. You bring the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Minister ensures continued Whenuapai flight operations
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • NZ joins Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action
    Finance Minister Grant Robertson has announced New Zealand will join the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action while attending APEC meetings in Chile. The objective of the 39 member Coalition is to share information and promote action to tackle climate change. It was formed in April this year, in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Feedback Sought – Section 71 – Lyttelton Parking
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    5 days ago
  • Feedback Sought – Section 71 – Hagley Oval
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    5 days ago
  • CTU speech – DPM
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    5 days ago
  • Police Association Annual Conference
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    5 days ago
  • New Zealand announces a further P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark have announced the New Zealand Government’s decision to again deploy a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea. New ...
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    5 days ago
  • New Zealand deeply concerned at developments in north-east Syria
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says New Zealand continues to have serious concerns for peace and stability in north-east Syria. “Recent reports that hundreds of ISIS-affiliated families have fled from a camp are deeply concerning from a humanitarian and security perspective”, Mr Peters says. “While we acknowledge Turkey’s domestic security ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government on high alert for stink bugs
    Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor is warning travelling Kiwis to be vigilant as the high-season for the crop-eating brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is under way. “We’re on high alert to stop BMSB arriving in NZ. The high season runs until April 30 and we’ve strengthened our measures to stop stink ...
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    5 days ago
  • Better protections for students in halls of residence
    The Government is moving swiftly to change the law to improve the welfare and pastoral care of students living in university halls of residence and other tertiary hostels. Cabinet has agreed to several changes, including creating a new mandatory Code of Practice that sets out the duty of pastoral care ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New trapping guide for community and expert trappers alike
    The Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage has launched a new comprehensive trapping guide for community trappers to help them protect our native birds, plants and other wildlife, at Zealandia in Wellington today. ‘A practical guide to trapping’, has been developed by the Department of Conservation (DOC), and was launched during ...
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    6 days ago
  • Widening Access to Contraceptives Welcomed
    Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter welcomes PHARMAC’s move to improve access to long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs). PHARMAC has today announced it will fund the full cost of Mirena and Jaydess for anyone seeking long term contraception, lifting previous restrictions on access to Mirena. “I welcome women having greater choices ...
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    6 days ago
  • Major upgrade for Taranaki Base Hospital
    The Government has approved the next stage of a major redevelopment of Taranaki Base Hospital, which will deliver new and improved facilities for patients. Health Minister Dr David Clark has announced details of a $300 million dollar project to build a new East Wing at the New Plymouth hospital. It ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Extra support for rural families
    Extra funding will allow Rural Support Trusts to help farming families, says Minister for Rural Communities and Agriculture Damien O’Connor. “I know that rural families are worried about some of the challenges facing them, including the ongoing uncertainty created by the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. “Those concerns sit alongside ongoing worries ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Howard Leaque Beekeeper programme graduation
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    1 week ago
  • Finance Minister to attend APEC meetings
    Finance Minister Grant Robertson leaves this weekend to attend the APEC Finance Ministers meeting in Santiago, Chile. Discussions between APEC Finance Ministers at the meeting will include the effects of the current global economic uncertainty, risks for APEC economies and sustainable development of the region. While at APEC Grant Robertson ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Pacific languages are a source of strength, they ground us and build confidence
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    1 week ago
  • Major boost to support disabled people in sport and recreation
    The Coalition Government has announced an action plan to improve the wellbeing of disabled New Zealanders by addressing inequalities in play, active recreation and sport. The initiative includes training to develop a workforce that understands the needs of children and young people with a range of impairments, advocacy for fit ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • More prefab homes to be built as red tape cut
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    1 week ago