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Press Council finds against Herald over ponygate reporting

Written By: - Date published: 8:37 am, July 3rd, 2015 - 76 comments
Categories: john key, journalism, making shit up, Media, newspapers, spin - Tags: , ,

The Press Council has now released its decision on the complaints laid against the Herald about Rachel Glucina’s reporting of Amanda Bailey’s story.  The complaint was essentially that Glucina had obtained statements from Bailey by subterfuge by claiming that she was acting in her capacity as a PR consultant and not as a reporter.  Of course the context is Glucina’s close association with John Key and the complete inappropriateness of her advising Bailey in how to handle her complaint about Key’s ponytail pulling antics.

The Council has found that a breach of Principle 10 of the Press Council’s statement of principles.  This principle states:

To fulfil their proper watchdog role, publications must be independent and free of obligations to their news sources. They should avoid any situations that might compromise such independence. Where a story is enabled by sponsorship, gift or financial inducement, that sponsorship, gift or financial inducement should be declared.  Where an author’s link to a subject is deemed to be justified, the relationship of author to subject should be declared.

The decision is very narrow in that the Council has decided that Glucina’s failure to acknowledge that her brother provided PR advice to Amanda Bailey’s employers was a breach of the standard.  The Council did not think that her relationship with John Key was relevant as that relationship was publicly known even though the Council had “some concerns about the amount of comment that is at least implicitly critical of Ms Bailey as against the six short paragraphs setting out her views”.

The decision raises some interesting issues.  Editor Tim Murphy claims that Rachel Glucina does not work in PR, nor does she have PR clients.  The decision noted that Glucina’s linked in page states she does work in PR.

The relevant findings of the Council are in the following passage:

30. There are a few facts which appear to be clear:

• Ms Bailey had made her story public through The Daily Blog without revealing her identity. It is reasonable to assume that at that stage she wished to remain anonymous and that at all times she had concerns about being identified.

• there was no direct contact between Ms Glucina and Ms Bailey before or after the interview. It appears that all contact was through Ms Bailey’s employers. Nor was there any direct contact between Ms Bailey and any representative of the NZ Herald between the conclusion of the interview and the publication of the article.

• there was at the very least some initial confusion over the basis on which Ms Glucina approached Ms Bailey and her employers. While NZ Herald has stated that she is a Herald reporter, does not work in PR and has no PR clients, her Linked-in profile refers to her as director of a PR company and specifies PR work as one of its functions. Linked-in is generally regarded as a platform for the advertising of services.

• It seems very likely that Ms Bailey’s employers, who were already acquainted with Ms Glucina, knew of her PR skills and were comfortable with the idea that she would help produce a media statement that would help counter any possible damage to the reputation of their business. There seems to have been no clear distinction between the journalistic and the PR aspects of the proposed article.

• There was also confusion over the nature of the article Ms Glucina proposed to write. Both Ms Bailey, and her employers, understood that she would prepare a general statement that would be released to all media. Certainly in relaying the content of his conversation with the café owners, Mr Currie acknowledges that they “said they had thought their and the waitress’ words would be issued to all media”.

31. On the basis of these facts, the Press Council cannot rule out the possibility of a genuine misunderstanding in the first instance about the nature of Ms Glucina’s approach and of the article she proposed to write. However once the interview was taking place, the onus was on Ms Glucina as a professional media person to make the position completely clear to all parties, particularly to Ms Bailey, with whom she had had no previous contact, who was in a vulnerable position, and whose interests could well have been in conflict with those of the café owners.

32. Even if Ms Bailey’s employers were aware that she proposed to write an article exclusively for the NZ Herald (and it seems likely they were not) Ms Glucina could not delegate to them her obligation to be sure that she had Ms Bailey’s fully informed consent to the proposed publication, especially in view of the earlier anonymous publication. On the contrary, her obligation was all the greater because she had not been privy to the conversations between Ms Bailey and her employers in setting up the interview.

33. By the time the interview had been concluded, all parties should have been quite clear about the nature of the article that was to be written. They certainly had concerns about the likely content, resulting in a departure from usual journalistic practice in the agreement to submit quotes to them for checking for accuracy. There is an element of subterfuge in Ms Glucina’s failure to ensure that they all knew she proposed to write an exclusive article for the NZ Herald.

So a findings of inappropriate action by Glucina has have been made although on a very narrow and very unsatisfactory basis.  The use of one of Key’s fan club to publish someone’s identity and start the undermining process  should not be acceptable behaviour by our main stream media.

Update:  there is a second decision that finds “there were elements of subterfuge in the NZ Herald’s dealings with Ms Bailey along with a failure to act fairly towards her”.  So there are two distinct findings, one that the principle against subterfuge has been breached and one that the principle of independence has been breached.

76 comments on “Press Council finds against Herald over ponygate reporting”

  1. Tracey 1

    back of hand. slap. wet bus ticket. it is the lead story on herald front page today? no?

    • Sacha 1.1

      Consequences? Currie gets a promotion, Glucina gets a better job with another company, cafe owners untouched, PM smiling. Only person who did badly from this is the woman he harrassed. What a shitty unaccountable society we are tolerating.

      • Molly 1.1.1

        +100

        • Chooky 1.1.1.1

          +100×1…however Glucina now has her name on the news…and not in a good way !….and the Herald is NOT looking good!…corruption all around!….also jonkey nactional is NOT looking good …cronyism and sexual harassment reminder

      • Sable 1.1.2

        New Zealand used to be a reasonably fair country. Not perfect but mostly fair. Now its a US style cesspit, where things that once would never have been tolerated have become commonplace. Of course thats the crux of the problem too….low expectations and apathy…..

        • Peter 1.1.2.1

          …… low expectations and apathy exactly what NACT want

          • tc 1.1.2.1.1

            The sideshow bob line from the simpsons comes to mind:
            ‘…Your guilty conscience may move you to vote Democratic, but deep down you long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king….’

        • aerobubble 1.1.2.2

          I disagree. Low expectations and apathy are manufactured as part of the pact media has with the new national socialism, neo-liberalism. Thatcherism is all about denying yourself a decision in the running of the nation as the market will magical deliever it if only you wait. We collectively give up when we buy into the simplistic profit at all cost paradigm. I do not, nor does anyone really have low expectations, its we’re told that the way to be successful is to deny ourselves and thus create a world of low expectations. Take climate change, we can grow bamboo on our lawns, a fast carbon sink that can be buried or used. Waiting for the market, or hands off govt parties to organize themselves, is apathy manufacturing. But can you buy a bamboo plant nope. Not capitalism out there in retail.

      • vaughan little 1.1.3

        this kind of thing takes a while to pan out. for instance, a bad smell is gonna follow rachel glucina for the rest of her life.

        plus, i’d say there’s more job security working for the herald than tv3…

  2. Craig Glen Eden 2

    So they role on doing what they have been doing smearing anyone who has anything to say which is negative about John Key.

  3. repateet 3

    When Rachel Glucina appears on whatever thing she ends up on with her new employer, will the identity tag along the bottom of whatever she does announce ‘Rachel Glucina, scumbag, weasel, reporter’ ? Or since she is with Mediaworks will that be self-evident?

    • Skinny 3.1

      Don’t be surprised if Glucina lands a weekly spot on Paul Henry’s show. All it would take is a phone call from the Nats lead snake oil saleman Joyce. Refreshing them on National’s donations policy.

      We showed you the money…it’s all about the money.

    • Chooky 3.2

      “self-evident”…I would think

      ….and whenever i see her next to David Farrer ….she looks like his sister or mother ….or a mini me with a black dyed hair wig

      • There are really so many things we can criticise Rachel Glucina for without focusing on her appearance.

        • Chooky 3.2.1.1

          sorry.!!!!…couldn’t resist…but the female troll deserves it

          ….i would say the same about Slater or Farrer….ugly PR trolls all of them!

          …and does a person’s soul shine through their faces?

          • Naturesong 3.2.1.1.1

            The real ugliness is on the inside.
            Best to focus on that.

          • Skinny 3.2.1.1.2

            I seen her at the beach in a bikini, I deliberately got my phone out to take a photo. She wasn’t impressed probably because she had wintered too well. Enjoyed mocking her by saying I hope you don’t mind it’s not every day ya meet
            a celebrity, my girlfriend laughed and muttered loud enough for her to hear “don’t you mean a beached whale”. The exchange of words I can’t repeat, had to interject before a cat fight broke out. Asked my gf what was that all about? She said that bitch took that photo of you at the supper club ( K rd bar an old haunt) between 2 slappers at the bar while I was in the bathroom, and posted it in the trash column of hers.

            Hell have no fury like a woman’s scorn.

            • Chooky 3.2.1.1.2.1

              lol Skinny…sounds like a good girlfriend.

              ..i once saw a girlie ‘cat fight’ ….and believe it or not, one grabbed the other’s hair and it went flying ! ….everyone was so astounded they didnt laugh , or at least laugh much ….no one had ever suspected she wore a wig…her long fingernails were definitely fake though…but it wasnt funny when she ripped the others gold earring out of her ear

              • Skinny

                It was a nasty spiteful thing Glucina done by misrepresenting the situation as if I was some sort of ladies man, the bar area was quite small and I was wedged between 2 females innocently queuing for a drink. My gf who grew up in remmers but steered clear of mixing with the silly girls set, was familar to Glucina but chose to ignore her. Anyway the first we knew of the infamous photo in the paper was friends contacting us asking if we had split up. And the odd bit of grief from one or two of her besties accusing me of being a cheating cad.

                • Chooky

                  yup Skinny …sounds like yer were dealing with a ‘bad woman’ to set you up like that..such women aint ladies ….more evidence against the Herald ‘s PR one…and should one handle such PR ones with kid gloves as if they were ladies?

            • Stephanie Rodgers 3.2.1.1.2.2

              Whoever told you that “deliberately missing the point and doubling down on cheap sexist attacks” was a good look for you was lying.

              • Skinny

                OK I was writing the above and just saw your comment. I hope the further details ‘gets the point.’ Which is Glucina purposely manipulates situations to suit her own agenda and mine is an example, all be it not to everyone’s liking…different strokes for different folks I guess.

                • Nope … still seems like an excuse to throw around words like “beached whale”, “cat fight”, “bitch”, “slappers” and “trash” to me.

                  Just because you’re claiming another woman said it doesn’t stop all of the above from being boring old sexism.

                  • Chooky

                    I used the word “cat fight”…not poor wee Skinny…and I stand by it

                    …calling me out as “sexist” then?…am I going to get banned for sexism?

                    [From the policy: “What we’re not prepared to accept are pointless personal attacks, or tone or language that has the effect of excluding others.” The gratuitous use of sexist language can certainly be said to have the effect of excluding others, so, yes, a ban is possible. More likely, however, would be a period in moderation so that future comments can be vetted. That means the moderated person’s comments only get released when a moderator spots them in the spam trap. TRP]

                    • Chooky

                      @ TRP….well i have been accused of being a “rape apologist” by you and others…..so ?!…when is the ban?

                    • You posted a series of comments on a post that actually were rape apologies, so don’t bother using weasel words like “accused”. If you want to be banned, just say so. If you don’t, I suggest you use the common sense you usually show round here and keep your comments non inflammatory.

                    • Skinny

                      Now now chook take it on the chin without the sniveling.

                    • Chooky

                      certainly NOT snivelling….actually like others I defended Julian Assange…..and for that….I like others , who no longer come here ,,,, was branded a “rape apologist”…not once but many times….remember the boycott and picket protest against bullying here?!

  4. OMBE 4

    Wet bus ticket, ready and waiting……

    • RedLogix 4.1

      Wet? It’s been soaking for months.

      • mickysavage 4.1.1

        Yep I wrote this post in a hurry so that the comments could pick the decision apart.

        The Council did find that Glucina had engaged in subterfuge:

        “There is an element of subterfuge in Ms Glucina’s failure to ensure that they all knew she proposed to write an exclusive article for the NZ Herald.”

        I am not sure why this was not subject to a finding. It seems pretty clear.

        • RedLogix 4.1.1.1

          I’m too busy to have been following this in detail, but my impression is that the Press Council has released a series of pretty weak decisions lately.

          This one presented them with a problem, Glucina had clearly stepped over the line and no-one was going to accept them totally absolving her … so we get this instead which looks like one thing but is really another.

          A can of ceiling white labelled Tut Tut.

          • Anne 4.1.1.1.1

            I’m too busy to have been following this in detail, but my impression is that the Press Council has released a series of pretty weak decisions lately.

            Not just lately RedLogix. It’s been going on for a long time. And its not just the Press Council but the BSA as well. Around 2010/11 (can’t quite remember and can’t be bothered looking it up), after having followed the required preliminary procedures that proved unsatisfactory, I laid a formal complaint with the BSA about the handling of “The Hobbit” controversy by a TVNZ Q+A programme. The BSA spuriously dismissed my claims despite the obvious bias and unfairness of the programme concerned. Some time later further revelations confirmed that my complaint had been correct and the BSA judgement had been wrong. It’s wasn’t the first time I have fought lily-livered authoritarian bias either, and since the election of this ‘authoritarian’ government it has further deteriorated.

        • Pascals bookie 4.1.1.2

          It was:

          “Decision
          39. The Press Council upholds the complaints. It finds there were elements of subterfuge in the NZ Herald’s dealings with Ms Bailey along with a failure to act fairly towards her, but more importantly it notes that it is not exclusively concerned with determining whether there has been a breach of specific principles. It may consider other ethical grounds for complaint, especially in the context of its objective of maintaining the press in accordance with the highest professional standards. In this case, it is of the view that the NZ Herald has generally fallen far short of those standards in its handling of a sensitive issue and its failure to respect the interests of a vulnerable person.
          40. For the sake of completeness, it should be said that the Press Council does not find that there was a sufficient public interest in Ms Bailey’s story to justify the use of subterfuge, or to override any right to privacy. “

  5. Smilin 5

    Wormy Key wins again, closeted sexist molesting deviant ponytail chain pulling up himself arrogant AND IF YOU touch my daughters hair and ill drop u- how do you like that for your 30% of GDP SUCKING LEGAL BS AT THE TAX PAYERS EXPENSE Key
    You actually remind of the crap teachers use to get away with back in the 60’s and they got away with because of the right to abuse sec 59

  6. Sable 6

    Not much of a telling off, is it? Its my opinion the MSM in this country seem to do as they please…

  7. ianmac 7

    Remember that there is OIA request from No Right Turn ? for info, did Key have communication with Glucina at that time? The info is being with-held but an appeal to the Ombudsman is pending.
    Aha! Found it:
    http://norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/2015/06/what-is-prime-minister-trying-to-hide.html

  8. yip 8

    Glucina Was doing PR…… For the Dirty politics machine, it may work like this , you want PR Glucina writes it, gets paid, Glucina then uses her job at the herald to print it.
    The Herald also pays Glucina.
    Hi fives all round at the wine bar later.

  9. Tracey 9

    surely glucina has a clear and unequivocal to ligation to make clear at the beginning who she is and what she intends doing with the info. in her journalist role. IF there is any misunderstanding it can only be because glucina failed to make her position clear?

    • Charles 9.1

      I would argue that if a company functions as an intermediary, and that a company knows who it’s staff are (common enough), and are aquainted with a journalist who is related to one of their staff, and that a journalist calls them after a particular event of importance, the journalist’s position has been stated unless they say otherwise. Give it the, “what would a reasonable person believe”, test:

      Think of someone you know, aquaintence or not. You know what they do for living, yes? When I ask you what they do for a living, you can tell me. So that person calls you and says, “I want to talk to your employee about that thing that happened, can you set something up?”.

      “Talk to my employee? Why, what business is it of yours? Oh right yeah, you’re a journalist. Ok good I’ll do it.”

      Employer calls up employee, “Oh hai employee, hey you wanna come do a conference call/over to my place to meet a friend? You do? Excellent. Bai.”

      Later at that meeting, employee spots the subterfuge:
      “Hey, aren’t you that journalist?”
      “No no, I’m just a friend of the interme… I mean… your employer.”
      “Hey employer,” says employee, “why u no tell me about journalist?”
      “Slipped my mind. Do we not usually get together for little chats like this for no reason? Can you come back later for pics?”

      This is what the Press Council ask us to believe happened.

      So, when your “friend” calls you, is it likely your friend asked in their role as journalist to the company they work at, from which they are well known to the public as a journalist/columnist; or a PR person for a unknown company that has no track record? Did your friend ask you, during business hours, to get the BBQ out for steaks ‘n’ chardonnay on Saturday, Oh, and bring that interesting trouble-maker with you… or would a reasonable person know what was being asked?

      Contrary to Mike Hoskings polishing of the employers as unwitting meat in the sandwhich, turns out the employers were extension of the Herald grub team. They are called intermediaries for a reason. Everyone knew.

  10. weka 10

    “surely glucina has a clear and unequivocal to ligation to make clear at the beginning who she is and what she intends doing with the info”

    I wish she had a clear and unequivocal ligation 😈

    (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun, no harm actually intended)

  11. T Chris 11

    I think the Unite union hassling Amanda Bailey are just as bad to be fair

    [lprent: You asserted a fact. Link to a credible source or retract or leave permanently. You have a day before I ban you permanently as being a particularly stupid old-style troll. I’ll keep an eye on spam..

    As a point to consider for others wanting to follow the same kind of idiotic stupidity, I really don’t like idiots trolling PR lines for arseholes. I’m generally going to go over the top when I see it. Don’t just spin a line if you want to use it. Explain it, and link to something if you are asserting. This provides amusement for other commentators as they tear your argument apart. It might still be a flamewar, but at least it is one with some brains in play.

    The only mention I have seen for that particular story was Cameron Slater lying through his teeth as usual. And as usual it was repeated by a pile of thick-headed half-wits like yourself grunting it like brain-damaged parrots trying to speak while pulling your dicks with excitement at your own cleaverness. ]

    • Anne 11.1

      To be fair T Chris you’re being your usual a******e self. Amanda Bailey went to her union seeking help after she had her reputation smeared by the actions of Rachel Glucina and the Herald.

    • Old Mickey 11.2

      Certainly serial litigator-bankrupt-blackmailer McCready was as bad if not worse !

      [lprent: Why exactly? Link? Do you want to get the same moderating treatment that Chris just got above? In this case you probably aren’t just repeating someone lying. However you need to explain why. ]

      • T Chris 11.2.1

        There seems to be different rules for some posters on here when it comes to posting links

        [lprent: The rule is in the policy. If you assert something as a fact then you are expected to substantiate it. If you clearly state that it is your opinion, then you do not. This is the essential legal difference between defamatory statements and free expression. People tend to be very clear on this site when they are expressing their opinions or quoting facts.

        But this idiot really are a lazy idiot who is clearly incapable of reading comments carefully enough to distinguish the difference. Since, we don’t want to be sued because of ignorant lazy and stupid fuckwits like this one lying on our site, so we exclude those who are more interested sucking on their own dick for their “facts” than working on checking them.

        A day later, I haven’t received substantiation (just some pathetic pinhead logic in email) or a retraction. So the ban is permanent. Another fool excluded. ]

      • Old Mickey 11.2.2

        In m y opinion, and after reading a number of links and quotes such as:

        http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/national/mccready-told-to-push-off-with-ponytail-pulling-case/

        “”It is to be remembered Ms Bailey is not a party to these proceedings and that these proceedings have been brought without her knowledge or consent”.”
        And according to mcGready the tribunal had misunderstood confusion over the process and determined his actions were “frivolous and intended to harass the victim Amanda Bailey”.

        I believe that McGready’s was as bad as the herald reporter’s. Neither appear to me, to have Amanda best interest at heart, just their own self serving actions.

        • lprent 11.2.2.1

          I wouldn’t disagree about McCready. I wasn’t exactly impressed with his actions myself, and Ms Bailey was pretty clear on that subject. The various approaches by unions and lawyers don’t appear to have received the same treatment.

          But around here it does pay to be quite clear about what is your opinion and what it is being asserted as fact (and therefore may need to substantiate). For me when I am moderating, it is the line between what is mere opinion and what I can spend a Slater load of time in court for.

          Chris T, who I banned above was giving me a self-serving solipsistic argument in emails that relied more on his misconceptions about unions (and presumably lawyers) than reality. An arrogant and stupid fuckwit like that is far too dangerous to have around.

  12. adam 12

    Well done Boomer on this.

    He really was a good terrier, sinking his teeth in – over at the daily blog he has a piece – well worth a read.

    Amanda, not sure your reading this. But well done to you – your bravery in the face of all this macho b.s has been outstanding.

    You get my full respect, and gratitude. If you ever feel down, just remember your a awesome human being, that people with no morals tried to destroy – they failed, you’re just to brilliant.

  13. Aaron 13

    Anytime the Herald has to publish an article about how it failed to meet basic journalistic standards is a good time as far as I’m concerned.

  14. Heartbleeding Liberal 14

    This story was interesting, it entered the public sphere with a bang and fizzled out shortly thereafter. I thought that this one was going to stick.

    • repateet 14.1

      Slater and Farrar aren’t interested in the story, big surprise. Transpose the situation to have implications about the leader of the lLabour party would they be in to it? Too damned right.
      Mind you Slater’s onto important things today like his company beanies. Won’t be needed top keep any brains warm.

  15. Charles 15

    Apparently, there are no processes up at the Herald newsroom. Anyone can wander in, type something up, press send and, boom, next day it’s on the front page. Every morning, it’s a complete surprise to the Editor what is reported and what isn’t. They pick up the paper and have to immediately check facts, verify sources and methods and order of events, themselves, to avoid legal problems and begin retracting statments. That’s their job. The only time they do anything. Running around after their staff. Yeah right, Press Council,

  16. McFlock 16

    I liked this bit of the first decision(my italics) :

    36. It seems that by early evening Mr Currie had spoken to the café owners (or one of them) and had explained the situation. However he did not speak to Ms Bailey, nor is there any evidence that he attempted to obtain contact details for her. Once again, clarification of the basis on which the story was to be published was not a task that could be delegated, or at least not without direct authority from Ms Bailey. While the Press Council does not consider Ms Glucina’s history as a journalist to be particularly relevant to this case, it was known to the NZ Herald and should have resulted in special care to ensure that the highest ethical standards were maintained.

    That sounds awfully like she’s been before the press council before and found to have been dodgy so badly or often that the Herald should have known to watch her like a hawk. And this is the person mediaworks has headhunted…

  17. Hugh Robb 17

    Just more abuse directed at the victim. J.K. assailed this woman. lk a crime. It is a crimminal matter and J.K. should be charged. No one should be above the law.J.tk. is guilty of male assaults female. AND he admitted it!

  18. Tanz 18

    Bill Clinton did far worse and got away with it, but then he is a Democrat. Colin Craig did less and is now being cut loose by his party, the party he founded and personally put money into. Is that fair? And there is no proof, one word against the other and a bit of a silly poem. Can any of us afford to throw metaphorical stones?

    • weka 18.1

      What did Clinton do that was worse?

      • adam 18.1.1

        Monica was a willing participant. Hillary was the wounded party – not you or me Tanz.

        • Tanz 18.1.1.1

          Yes, but as a President, you are supposed to have very high moral standards. Colin Craig got ripped to shreds by the leftie biased media, and he is just the leader of a party that isn’t even in Parliament (though he got close), he’s had to pay her twenty grand out for her credit cards and say goodbye to that (going by the Herald) and it’s all hearsay. One of them is lying. Yep, John Key pulled a few ponytails, a bit weird, but not up there with the real scandals!!

  19. Tanz 19

    Oh, am I now in moderation again? Free speech…

    [lprent: Don’t get too paranoid. We don’t use moderation manually much any more, those are almost all automatic processes. Get worried if you see yourself going to spam.

    Besides “Free speech” here is completely dependent on your behaviour rather than the strange and queer ideas that you and everyone else (apart from me of course) has. But I’m just as tolerant of my fellow authors as I am of most commenters. 😈

    The behaviours that we find don’t add any benefit to the site are outlined in the policy. I haven’t seen you indulge in them for a *long* time. ]

  20. Tanz 20

    No, because I don’t indulge in commenting here very much, you get shot down for mere opinion if it goes against the grain.

    • Anne 20.1

      Its not because of going against the grain Tanz, its because you talk nonsense much of the time. Like your … ripped to shreds by the leftie biased media @ 18.1.1.1. Now that is a seriously wonky judgement call. Much of the MSM have been living in JonKey’s pocket for the past 8 years so to call them “lefties” is inviting ridicule.

  21. Tanz 21

    John Key himself is far more to the left than the right.

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  • New Zealand First welcomes official opening of Te Rau Aroha Museum
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  • Applications invited for $7 million Regional Culture and Heritage Fund
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  • Prime Minister’s tribute to former Prime Minister Mike Moore
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