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This is how you win

Written By: - Date published: 2:14 pm, October 29th, 2011 - 68 comments
Categories: election 2011, labour, national - Tags:

Sprout’s post says it all. Labour’s opening address blew National’s out of the park. But I can’t help myself, I have to put in my analysis of why National’s was so awful and Labour’s so good.

I tried to watch National’s opening address from the perspective of ‘how would this look to someone who is not politically engaged?’ but I spent half the time laughing through-out it. It was just so, so bad.

What possessed them to just a format of Key, small and alone on a stage, rambling off long, boring answers to scripted, soft questions in a fake town-hall meeting? And, why didn’t they look at it when they had produced it and bin the results immediately? It demolishes the myth of the National PR machine. These guys aren’t good. They’re amateurs who’ve just been lucky until now.

I loved how the conveniently ‘ethnic’ audience members in the foreground looked either bored or skeptical when they cut to them.

And, only mentioning at the end that this was meant to have been a real town hall meeting (which it clearly wasn’t) even if you’re going we such a silly format, why not have him talking to camera in the car as he arrives – set the scene? Or, better, why not come up with a concept that isn’t stupid?

Far from making Key look presidential, he looked small and waffling. This is why he doesn’t do long-form interviews, It was terrible TV. I don’t know if he is good in genuine town-hall meetings. I suspect that, if he is, it’s because he uses humour to engage the audience. There wasn’t any humour in this fake town-hall. Just dead eyes and blah, blah blah. Were they trying to boor the audience into changing the channel before Labour’s?

Key spent quarter of the time on the defensive about national standards – on the defensive! In his own opening address!

He mentioned only one new policy, asset sales, and he got the number of companies on the block for privatisation wrong too.

It almost looks like they have no money. It’s the same with the tv ads too. But, that can’t be right… Are they keeping their powder dry for a second election? Or are they just a bit shit?

The Labour one was bloody moving. And it was really clever to use the 20 minutes as a documentary about who Labour is and what they stand for, rather than haranguing or trying too hard to ‘sell’ (which the Greens did, although their address was still lightyears ahead of National.

I was worried it could have come off as trite to someone not rooted in the Left’s values. But I got texts from people who aren’t strongly political saying that it was brilliant. saying it would make them vote Labour. Did you read the comments in Sprout’s post? there were people who had never dared to comment before saying ‘fuck it, this is what I believe in and I’m going to say so’, there were people who said they had donated or joined the party on the strength of it.

Labour has made its base proud and, I’m sure, won tens of thousands of votes with this one move.

I think that the success of it was that there was a geniune ‘kiwiness’ about what Labour presented and it said ‘our values are your values, we’ve been alongside you, we’ve delivered what you want, and we still hold true to those values’.

Having the MPs telling the stories of how their values were shaped, stories that resonated with the audience and humanised the MPs was brilliant. And the choice of MPs in the address was very clever and very strategic. Apart from the leader and the finance spokesperson, all the others are in seats that Labour lost last term (or the term before, in Napier’s case) and want to win back. Apart from O’Connor all those MPs were first termers, showing Labour’s new face, while linking to its history. That was brilliant exposure for up and coming MPs in marginal seats. And they all presented wonderfully.

Almost out of nowhere, Labour has seized the discourse. It is dictating the run of play with its policies, its framing, and, now, with its marketing. This is how you win.

68 comments on “This is how you win”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    This is awesome for Labour. And now to make it happen in every neighbourhood and on every street.

    John Key has explaining to do.

  2. well said, good analyses

  3. Nick C 3

    “It demolishes the myth of the National PR machine. These guys aren’t good. They’re amateurs who’ve just been lucky until now.”

    So you and others will stop your delusional rantings about how National are only popular because the evil genuises at Crosby Textor have mastered the art of mass manipulation?

  4. Jimmie 4

    I didn’t watch any of the broadcasts along with 95% of kiwis – would rather sit watching grass grow.

    I would question that if Labour have been doing so well lately with the Rena grounding, gas pipe leaks, John Key making a fist of everything why aren’t voters registering this?

    The Herald poll today says the same old story Nats up, Labour down, big gap between them.

    Why is it that the nasty right wing bloggers get air time on MSM (Farrar & Slator) and you guys don’t?

    Its simply this – you guys live in a fantasy world where the saints from Labour can do no wrong and the evil Nats can do no right.

    Its ineffective and so parochial that you all come across as so one eyed that you might as well rename this blog thecyclops.org.nz.

    If you read Slator’s and Farrar’s blogs they come across as pro National but if they think that the Nats have done something wrong they say it and say it loud – not defend the indefensible.

    If you and the rest of Labour’s supporters did a lot more critical analysis of your own party then it would be a lot more effective and with the elevation of more principled MP’s would have a greater chance of getting into government.

    I tell you if Labour gets hammered this election then you all will need to change the way you run this blog and your party – back to the basics and win in 2014 otherwise the Nats will get a free run for the next 6 years.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Its simply this – you guys live in a fantasy world where the saints from Labour can do no wrong and the evil Nats can do no right.

      You obviously didn’t see the fisticuffs in the Labour footage from the 1980’s, and commentary on Roger Douglas not being part of the Labour philosophy and leaving to form ACT.

      The real fantasy world is that of free markets, neoliberalism and the supremacy of capital and bankers.

      That’s a fantasy world which has been crushing NZ Labour for decades.

      I tell you if Labour gets hammered this election then you all will need to change the way you run this blog and your party – back to the basics and win in 2014 otherwise the Nats will get a free run for the next 6 years.

      We don’t take instructions from Born to Rule pricks. Labour is returning to its heart.

      • Gregor W 4.1.1

        Viper –

        How can you take Jimmie’s comment so poorly?
        Its ugly.

        I don’t completely agree with Jimmie’s comments – I would say that the promo indicates that the NZLP are, from a brand perspective, clearly trying to get back to their roots with this pitch – but your response is vicious and childish.

        You’re a smart guy. You don’t need to get into name calling.

        • bbfloyd

          you could leave out the patronising as well gregg…..especially as the first attempt at political analysis we see from you is laughably facile.. “trying to get back to it’s roots with this pitch” …the chicken comes after the egg don’t you know…….the fact that you can accept the concept of political parties realigning their philosophical basis for existence through an advertising campaign has given me an idea for a cartoon…..btw, it’s usually after a long, and in depth series of debates, and soulsearching that any such realignment, or reaffirmation of core, founding philosophies can take place….

          the only party in new zealand able to assimilate whichever philosophies are politically expedient at a moments notice is the new zealand national party…. it’s a practice that would have ensured they never…ever.. saw the treasury benches if their sponsors didn’t own the news and information networks….which.. of course is where your reality lies it seems.. in the world television reality… la la la la laaaah!

          • Gregor W

            bbfloyd –

            I am complementary of the NZLPs efforts – the PR machine did a great job – but when I question why someone is attacked for presenting a opinion.

            CV calls a poster a prick for no real reason, I call him on it as I think it’s beneath him, and you pile in with the some smug sanctimonious rant. Admittedly, I’ve only just recently taken a look at The Standard so this may be the style – who knows.

            Whatever floats your boat I guess but just so you know, I’m not really interested in getting into a pissing contest with a keyboard warrior.

            All I’m saying is that it costs nothing to be civil. Good luck with your cartoon.

            • Ari

              Although I don’t like the term rich pricks, I’m going to completely disagree with you that it costs nothing to be civil. There are some philosophies so odious that they deserve impassioned and harsh criticism- sure, that should be reserved for the ideas themselves more than actual people, but nonetheless, being “civil” often amounts to downplaying or shutting up about your disagreements, which is a huge price to pay.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 4.2

      Polls are not votes !

      Spare the platitudes for Keys next meeting at a closed cinema.

    • The Voice of Reason 4.3

      “I didn’t watch any of the broadcasts along with 95% of kiwis …”
      Average viewer ship of 250000. That’s a fair swag of the voting population, jim jim. Bound to be few swing voters among ’em, aye?
      “If you read Slator’s and Farrar’s blogs they come across as pro National but if they think that the Nats have done something wrong they say it and say it loud – not defend the indefensible”
      Don’t bother checking Kiwiblog for criticism of the Nat’s effort last night. Farrar is presently sitting in a darkened corner with his hands on his ears going ‘nananana, can’t hear you’. Whale went with ‘boring’, which suggests he didn’t watch it.

      • Lanthanide 4.3.1

        Average viewership of 250,000 out of a country of 4,417,00 is 5.8%.

        Of course the people who viewed are more likely to be voters, which is what counts.

    • RedLogix 4.4

      Interesting Jimmie. I do have one sincere question.

      What is it that John Key has actually done that is causing the polls to be so favourable to him?

      I mean given that most New Zealanders are not members of a political party, never read their policy statements, refuse to watch political broadcasts and generally consider all politicians beneath contempt…and like yourself pride themselves in knowing a little about politics as possible… you would expect that the polls would reflect that.

      If you asked people about any other topic they didn’t care much about you would expect that the results would be sort of randomly distributed, reflecting a lack of strong opinion or knowledge.

      So why then this continued dominance in the polls? Where do you think that comes from?

      • KJT 4.4.1

        He is the one we see praised on TV most often.

        Unfortunately most of the population have decided that nothing they can do will change anything, so they have totally switched off looking at policies.

    • Carol 4.5

      You can’t read much of the Standard comments, then – people here are lkifet wing, but not all are Labour supporters, and Labour does come in for afair bit of criticism here. I think CV replied as he did, because right wingers come here fairly frequently and make just the same sort of criticism as Jimmie…. and it’s so wide of the make it’s in fantasyland. It gets boring to have to keep repeating this.

      Kiwiblog is much more pro-National than the Standard is pro-Labour.

      • Gregor W 4.5.1

        Maybe. But criticism that is a POV shouldn’t warrant a personal attack.

        And you’re right – I don’t normally comment here. I tend to stick to RA and Dimpost.

  5. ianmac 5

    Eddie:”And, why didn’t they look at it when they had produced it and bin the results immediately?”
    Absolutely. Show it to Mrs Key and she would have said bin it.
    Well if I were a Nat I would say bin it! Their loss. Labour’s gain!

  6. Anthony 6

    National have always been a bit crap at their advertising/branding, their strength has been getting reporters to tell their story for them (and defend them).

    • Deadly_NZ 6.1

      Yeah Just watching that NACT ASS kisser Garner trying to put words into others mouths on the Nation, How can he still collect his pay without a guilty feeling? But gotta make sure that the 43 mil the NATS ‘loaned’ media works is value for money.

  7. mike 7

    I’ve already ranted about this on Sprout’s post but I’m seriously in shock over how bad National’s address was. Labour pulled out all the stops and came up with something brilliant. They didn’t need to. John Key looked so bad it was beyond belief that the National party would approve it. Did the entire National PR team die in a plane crash or something?

    To paraphrase Eddie, why not come up with something that isn’t shit? I’m truly puzzled that National apparently forgot that it’s good to do PR stuff that is not shit. WTF?

  8. randal 8

    The voters know that they need a steady hand in charge and not a flake.
    Phil Goff has all the attributes needed to guide a steady course through the rocky times ahead.

    • queenstfarmer 8.1

      Phil Goff has all the attributes needed to guide a steady course through the rocky times ahead

      It’s interesting to see the varying (i.e. inconsistent) comments about presidential campaigning and focussing on personal attributes vs policy. According to some, when National draws attention to John Key’s attributes it shows they have no policy. Yet making such statements about Phil Goff is fine.

      I have no problem with either. Actually I think Phil should get his “personality” out there. Of course, because he’s a politician, to ordinary folks he’s a dick – like John Key and all other MPs – but we are used to that with MPs, so it is all relative. When he is not getting all worked up, Phil Goff comes across very well.

      As far as attributes and integrity go, from what I have seen I would generally be happy to have Phil Goff as my prime minister.

      • Crashcart 8.1.1

        One labour suporter saying he thinks Phil would be best to lead us forward hardley goes against labour itself basing this election on policy. If Naional chooses to make it all about JK you can hardley get bent out of shape when oposition supporters say they don’t think JK is the man to do the job.

  9. Zaphod Beeblebrox 9

    When you have a compliant media and never do decent interviews, you lose the capacity to present your arguments and your presentation skills get slack. Key is going to hate the blowtorch if the media can get to him. That what happened when he foolishly agreed to do the BBC HardTalk interview.

  10. My god. Having heard about the national one I thought I had better watch it – I am stunned at how bad it is. Incredible. Key looks pasty, hollow, scripted and flat.

  11. Blue 11

    National’s shocker of an opener goes with their recycled billboards as an example of how complacent they are. Their whole campaign has shown no imagination whatsoever.

    I think they really thought that they didn’t have to try this election.

    • Lanthanide 11.1

      Either they think they didn’t had to try, or that they can just keep doing what they’ve doing and everything will work out fine. Evidently they didn’t plan on Labour pulling out all the stops with a risky strategy.

  12. ianmac 12

    And again what will be plan B for Joyce if Key continues to look foolish? They have bet the whole amount on Little John’s skinny shoulders.

  13. Lanthanide 13

    Stuff have a negative piece on National’s opening, but nothing about Labour’s.

    Anyway, I found this interesting:
    “It wasn’t scripted in so much as they are the answers I give to those questions and I get them everywhere. Quite frankly they will be the same answers I give on Monday and in the debates.”


    I can understand why National went with the format they did. But they should have been honest about it and carted Key around these meeting (which apparently he has all the time? never heard of them till now) and recorded actual exchanges with actual members of the public, not paid actors. Splice them all together. It might look a little low-rent, but that’s better than the overly-produced low-budget flim flam that they gave.

    • ianmac 13.1

      Yes. It seems that the cue is say “National Standards” = spiel on Education and not addressing the question.
      And cue “Violent Society” = spiel on Crime and policing and not addressing the question. etc etc.

      If he does this in a debate such as in TV1 Monday, he will be in trouble. (If the astute Sainsbury is the Moderator look out – or not. Ha! 🙁 )

      • seeker 13.1.1

        Very interesting Lanthanide, well spotted:

        ‘It wasn’t scripted in so much as they are the answers I give to those questions and I get them everywhere. Quite frankly they will be the same answers I give on Monday and in the debates”

        So rather than reading the written -for -him -speech, he is memorising the written- for -him -answers and just repeats them over and over again wherever he goes so he doesn’t forget them. Just like memorising a script, only it’s not a script, it’s scripted answers. He can then deliver them, on cue, at both matinee and evening shows, giving the polished performance he is so admired for and where no real thinking skills are required. Just good old rote learning and a fake persona.
        Who knows he may score a role in a Peter Jackson masterpiece, although I think he should leave Friday’s rather ghoulish evening performance out of his portfolio when he next auditions.

        Stop press:
        Aspiring thespian john key auditions for the role of a small fictional character with large hairy feet:

  14. Dotty 14

    I’m afraid I have to go with Matthew Hooten’s assessment (see Dim Post):
    “National was deliberately trying to kill the audience for Labour and the Greens. Brilliant strategy, executed even better.”

    Because nothing else makes sense.

    • McFlock 14.1

      Lol. So rather than simply being bad,they were intentionally awful and succeeded, but still managed to have 287,000 viewers watch Labour but only 255,000 watch their own? 
      I think their bad strategy went bad.

    • Agreed this is the only possible rational explanation for how bad it was.

  15. Ianupnorth 15

    Interesting; I was listening to the radio in the car this morning and Shonkey was name checked several times, always in a positive light – opening the Victoria Park Tunnel, then flying to Christchurch to open the new container mall thing, before meeting with someone, etc. The previous night on the news it was him, The Hobbit, Peter Jackson, all nicey nicey.

    It really made me realise the extent to which the media give him a cruisy ride. 

    • McFlock 15.1

      This is their strategy, to build a cult of fuzziness around brand key. But the flipside is that themore that works, the more his fans will want to know about him. So they’ll watch his debates. And he will most likely suck. And if the RWC is anything to go by, he’s already overexposed.

      • Colonial Viper 15.1.1

        He’s on every friggin billboard.

        Now, when I see one I have to smile (and wave?). Put him on another street corner, and yet another one and another one please

        • Dotty

          Yeah, lucky me, I live in Helensville (the electorate not the town). No escaping from his mug… it’s on every second property down the main road…

  16. Irascible 16

    I watched the NACTional opening address and initially thought I was being shown a promo for a funeral directors’ pre death funeral planning convention, a la Six Feet Under, then the plastic marionette appeared and announced he was to be John Key and I thought it was a dream sequence in Six Feet Under.

    The audience, who looked as though they, too, were stuffed puppets waiting back stage to have their strings pulled when the central puppet asked for questions appeared as unconvinced by the scripted answers as a soporific NZ TV audience must have been.

    On the other hand the Labour Documentary address didn’t treat its audience as fools to be patronised and talked at but presented a great vision of why NZers should be proud of the Labour governments of the past and be proud again by re-electing the Labour Party again on the 26th.

    • Lanthanide 16.1

      Six Feet Under has better writers. It also has better actors – they can actually pronounce words without mangling them.

      • Irascible 16.1.1

        My apologies to the script writers of Six Feet Under. It’s a pity Key opted to play the part of the animated corpse in the NZ produced promo of a rewrite by crosby-textor. I hope the original production ccompany sue for criminal denegration of their productioon values.

  17. gobsmacked 17

    To answer Jimmie’s comment above …

    If you have any political antennae at all, you can get a pretty good idea of when people are just parroting the party line, and when they really mean what they say.

    There has been plenty of critical commentary on Labour in the left blogosphere over the past 3 years – including on the Standard, and Red Alert (comments section). Goff & co have deserved that criticism, with too many avoidable mistakes, too many missed opportunities.

    Last night wasn’t one of those times. Jimmie, if you bothered to watch National and Labour’s broadcasts, you would see that for yourself.

    Go on, check them out. Make up your own mind.

    Unless, of course, you prefer not to decide for yourself … which would be kinda ironic, eh?

  18. burt 18

    Do we want more of this in NZ ?

    Stuff: Qantas grounds all flights.

    • KJT 18.1

      Yes we do. 83% increase in worker productivity and only 15% in wage rises since 84.

      And it was worker productivity increasing in NZ as capital investment decreased when more money was gifted to the banks and multinationals to spend overseas.

      The Cooks and stewards were dicks, but they did not take 14 billion a year out of the economy.

      • Colonial Viper 18.1.1

        I know, lets sell half our power assets so we can make that rate of loss closer to $15B p.a.

    • Craig Glen Eden 18.2

      Hell no burt we dont want higher wages in NZ, Nzers just go to Aussie for that!


    • Draco T Bastard 18.3

      What, exactly, are you complaining about burt? Because from where I’m sitting the only reason that the planes stopped flying is because of the dictators sitting at the top. You know, the ones you support whole heartedly.

  19. RedLogix 19

    This is why wages are higher in Australia. (And 100,000 kiwis went there in the last three years.)

    • Colonial Viper 19.1

      Must be about 800K NZ born Kiwis living in Oz now. Just wait until their economy slows down further. Most Kiwis cant get the dole there. Serious job losses will mean that they start moving back this way asap.

      Numbers on the dole could double in a blink of an eye.

  20. big bruv 20

    Goodness me!

    If you lot really think the blatant lies (did Murapara really become a shit hole in just three years or did Labour ignore the place for nine long years?) in the Labour parties opening address is going to see the country take a giant lurch backward and vote in a Labour government then you are clearly delusional.

    Labour are suggesting that 1970’s style unionism is the answer, have you not seen the damage union scum are doing to the once great Qantas brand?

    Thankfully there is no chance that Goff will be the next PM, while I might not be a big fan of Key he is sure as hell a far better man to lead this nation than anybody on the left.

    I am fairly sure that in less than one months time I will be able to shove those famous words back down your collective throats.

    We won, you lost, eat that.

  21. rosy 21

    “have you not seen the damage union scum are doing to the once great Qantas brand?”

    Dunno, I thought it was the management that had locked out the workers. They’re also the ones that signed overseas maintenance contracts that have made the company subject to inquiries, negative news reports and internet jokes .

  22. big bruv 22

    When faced with totally unreasonable demands from union scum the management have no other option than to lock out the ‘workers’.

    Thankfully the likes of that parasite Helen Kelly will never have the power that the union scum have in Oz, can you imagine how much damage she and her fellow non PAYE paying low life would cause to our economy if they had the chance.

    • rosy 22.1

      Yeah, totally unreasonable to negotiate for the same pay for the same job across the company.

  23. big bruv 23


    Like most on the left you are not telling the full story are you.

    Jestar is not Qantas, yet Jetstar staff want the same pay and perks.

    • rosy 23.1

      And you’re brushing over what appears to be a complicated negotiation…


      Jetstar’s Australian operation is wholly owned by Qantas but is managed separately and operates independently, with the Australian headquarters in Melbourne.

      “yet Jetstar staff want the same pay and perks.”

      Yet Jetstar flights are not being disrupted . Go figure. I’m guessing that from a management perspective this is much bigger than pay and perks for Jetstar staff, and it’s more about retaining the ability to set-up cheaper operations overseas. I’d be interested to read the timeline of all this.

  24. tsmithfield 24

    Actually, I hope that Labour do communicate their message well.

    One of the problems with effective communication is that if the message is one that people don’t want to hear, then communicating the message more effectively is likely to turn people off more.

    Hence, policies such as compulsory Kiwisaver are likely to be as appealing as a cup of cold sick to most NZers who hate being forced to do things by the government, especially when it comes to investing their hard-earned money that they might like to put elsewhere for a better return. So, from my perspective, I hope that Labour communicates this message as loudly and clearly as possible. 🙂

  25. big bruv 25

    I see that Whale has posted about another of Goff’s blatant lies.

    Is Goff just unable to tell the truth?


  26. big bruv 26


    • Colonial Viper 26.1

      I prefer stuff.co.nz, even if you do prefer to feed from the gutter yourself.

      Hey didn’t Key lie about not raising GST? Or owning Tranzrail shares?

  27. big bruv 27


    [You have reached the end of the line at this site….RL]

  28. felix 28

    big bruv running to Kiwiblog to cry about being banned for “expressing an opinion” in 5…4…3…2…

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  • Kiwis better off under Coalition Government
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    12 hours ago
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    13 hours ago
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  • Temporary Accommodation Service activated for Southland flooding
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  • Bridges: Over-hyped and under-delivered
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  • Momentum of trade talks continues with visits to promote Pacific and Middle East links
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  • Coalition Govt’s investment in Customs nets record drugs haul: 3 tonnes stopped at borders in 2019
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  • Earthquake-Prone Building loan scheme: eligibility criteria announced
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  • Travel restrictions to remain in place as coronavirus precaution
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  • Applications invited for $7 million Regional Culture and Heritage Fund
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  • Law Commission appointment celebrates Māori and women
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  • Budget 2020 date announced
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    7 days ago
  • Prime Minister’s tribute to former Prime Minister Mike Moore
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  • Police disrupt methamphetamine trade
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  • Crown accounts in good shape to counter global challenges
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  • Racing Safety Development Fund open for applications
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  • Work to begin on a possible new public media entity
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    2 weeks ago
  • Government support for communities impacted by flooding
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  • New grants for seismic strengthening of heritage buildings
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  • Next level results for game development industry
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  • More than 70 marae online through PGF
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  • PGF supports West Coast connectivity
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