Wailing and Nashing of teeth

Written By: - Date published: 12:46 pm, March 16th, 2023 - 66 comments
Categories: boycott, chris hipkins, david seymour, politicans, stuart nash - Tags:

It is pretty clear to me that leaders acting tough and beating up on members of their team leads to political advantage.

I realised this back in 2010 when my mate Chris Carter succumbed to intense personal pressure and did a couple of silly things.

Then leader Phil Goff went to town on Carter who was quickly expelled from Caucus and then from the Party.  Thankfully more recently saner heads have prevailed and Chris is again a productive member of the party.

Immediately after Carter’s expulsion from caucus Goff’s and Labour’s polling support improved.  Beating up on your fellow politicians never seems to hurt.

Yesterday Chris Hipkins moved quickly to strip Stuart Nash of the Police portfolio.  It was frankly a spectacular own goal.  Nash mentioned on Newstalk ZB how he had rang his mate the Police Commissioner to ask if the police were going to appeal a decision but then it quickly became apparent that he should not have.

The case in point was pretty grim.  From Stuff:

In the June 2021 decision, a Southland man was sentenced to four months’ community detention after he was found with an AR-15, a 12 gauge shotgun, two AR-15 magazines, two Ruger magazines and thousands of rounds of ammunition at his house.

Police’s gun seizure and criminalisation of the man came after the Government banned military style, semi-automatic guns, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines following the Christchurch Terror Attack on March 15, 2019.

A buyback scheme was launched in the wake of the attack and ran until December that year, but the man hid the AR-15 under his mattress until it was found in March 2021.

It’s understood Nash called Coster about a week after the sentencing and expressed his concern about the sentence.

Nash was a government minister when the phone call was made, but he was not Minister of Police at that time.

His call appears to have had no effect.  Again from Stuff:

On Wednesday afternoon, Coster said in a statement: “I regarded the phone call as a venting of that frustration, and nothing more. I felt this was a rhetorical question, not a request, and I did not take any action following the phone call.”

Having said all of this the sentence was well within the Judge’s discretion and Ministers should tread very carefully before commenting on cases.

There has been an attempt to rewrite history and claim that what Nash did is worse than what Maurice Williamson did in 2014.  For instance David Seymour has said this:

“Former Minister Maurice Williamson resigned in 2014 for allegedly interfering in a police investigation into businessman Donghua Liu, but Stuart Nash this morning boasted of calling the Police Commissioner to influence prosecution decisions,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Speaking on Newstalk ZB this morning, Police Minister Stuart Nash boasted that he’d called the Police Commissioner about a case where an accused person was found innocent. “I’ve seen a couple of judgements, and actually one I phoned up the Police Commissioner and said surely you’re going to appeal this?”

“The Police Minister of all people should know that police independence is paramount. We do not want to live in a country where politicians get involved in police prosecution decisions. It wouldn’t be the first time if a Minister in this Government distanced themselves from an issue saying ‘of course we have to respect the independence of police operations.’

I thought this was a stretch.  Williamson was fired for contacting a senior police officer about a prosecution involving Donghua Liu, before Mr Liu pleaded guilty to charges of assault with intent.  From Jared Savage at the Herald:

Maurice Williamson has resigned as a Minister.

It follows Herald revelations he contacted a top ranking police officer after a wealthy businessman with close ties to him was arrested on domestic violence charges.

The Prime Minister’s office is understood to have also questioned Mr Williamson over his involvement with Donghua Liu’s criminal case.

In a statement, Prime Minister John Key says he’s accepted Mr Williamson’s resignation.

“I have been made aware that Mr Williamson contacted Police some time ago regarding their investigation of Mr Donghua Liu,” Mr Key said.

“Mr Williamson has assured me that he did not in any way intend to influence the Police investigation.

“However, Mr Williamson’s decision to discuss the investigation with Police was a significant error of judgement.

“The independence of Police investigations is a fundamental part of our country’s legal framework.

Of course this is not the end of the story.  Donghua Liu had been a significant donor to the National Party.  He had been awarded residency status despite official advice not to do so and Maurice Williamson had made representations on his behalf.

And the party went to extraordinary lengths to hide a second donation that Liu made to the party.  The day before Williamson was sacked National should have declared this donation.  That they avoided doing so had a major bearing on the election.  Labour was blasted for receiving donations from Donghua Liu that did not actually happen whereas there was pristine evidence that National had received donations from him and that a senior Minister went into bat with the police for him.  As I said previously New Zealand you were played.

In my view the two cases are not comparable.  Nash has paid a price for his inappropriate comment.  But a question about if an appeal will be lodged is not the same as making representations to the police about an active case involving a party donor.

66 comments on “Wailing and Nashing of teeth ”

  1. Gosman 1

    The rules do not make distinctions based on the nature of the case that a Minister is discussing with the Police. ANY contact is deemed inappropriate.

    • James Simpson 1.1

      Agreed.

      The whataboutism with Williamson doesn't change the fact of what Nash did.

      It is either right or wrong.

      • Anne 1.1.1

        Yeah… and black is white and white is black.

      • gsays 1.1.2

        Too right James, it seems it's whataboutism when 'they' do it.

        I have been awaiting the spin and hear what defending the indefensible sounds like. Point out a very low bar and intimate it isn't as bad as that.

        Like a lot of these sort of issues, action occurs when we, the hoi polloi, find out about it. I can't help but feel Nash's actions aren't a surprise to the main players.

        Labour, just like National but. …..

    • Then Gosman, how do you find Judith Collin's interference in the Bain case. Boy oh Boy. Rules get bent out of shape "when it serves."

      Plus your friend who would not accept the court’s ruling regarding her son.
      Both these women are still “serving” Nats.
      They should be discarded ahead of Nash.imo

    • bwaghorn 1.3

      Maybe , but usually the sentence is adjusted to reflect how bad the we offending was.

    • adam 1.4

      So your saying your house boy got it wrong?

  2. Ad 2

    PM Hipkins is racing his ship marginally faster than National by chopping everything above the waterline into his campaign furnace.

    Policy, funding or personnel are being burnt.

    Caucus now realize every one of them are simply flammable risk.

    • tsmithfield 2.1

      I don't know if being burnt is the correct analogy. I think it is more of a case of putting all the unpopular stuff into the fridge for later. A point the Nats need to drive home. A vote for Labour means a vote for every hated policy being resurrected after the election.

      • AB 2.1.1

        Nah – Hipkins will never do anything that is genuinely and reasonably hated by a lot of people. Things that are necessary and where the hate is manufactured by disinformation, anti-Ardern lunacy, or the ZB/NewsHub/Herald/RW Thinktank nexus, he might just wait a bit until people calm down. What he should absolutely do however, is find things that the majority of people love and National hate, then do as many of them as he can.

      • Robert Guyton 2.1.2

        "A point the Nats need to drive home."

        Why?

        • tsmithfield 2.1.2.1

          All the stuff he is dumping because he thinks it is unpopular.

          That can be a double edged sword because it suggests he doesn't really believe in anything, and anything is expendable for votes.

          • Robert Guyton 2.1.2.1.1

            Your reply doesn't make sense in light of your claim that he's not really dumping anything – just consigning it "into the fridge for later".

            What do you really mean?

    • SPC 2.2

      Really … a lot of them are dependent on his strategy working to keep their place in the caucus.

    • Look at the culprit. The PM had no room to hedge as Nash burnt his credibility publicly.

  3. tsmithfield 3

    Nashy could be gone.

    Sounds like it wasn't his first offence. Barry Soper will be talking about it on ZB at 4.45.

    • Robert Guyton 3.1

      Well, if Barry's got the scent…Nash'll be fine 🙂

      • tsmithfield 3.1.1

        If it is fact it doesn't matter who said it. Apparently the Attorney General had seriously considered prosecuting for a similar thing previously. Anyway, we will find out soon enough I expect.

        If it is true it probably doesn’t put Hipkins in a very good light if he was aware of the previous offence.

        If he sacks Nash completely now, and it turns out he already knew about the first offence, questions will be raised about why he didn’t do the full Monty on the first take.

        • tsmithfield 3.1.1.1

          Yep. On the Herald as well now.

          Apparently, the comments were made prior to the trial, and hence could have potentially caused a mistrial.

          From the article:

          Cabinet minister Stuart Nash is set to come under further pressure amind revelations the Solicitor General had considered prosecuting him for contempt over public comments he had made after the arrest of Eli Epiha in the case of the killing of police constable Matthew Hunt.

          “amind” Don’t they run a spell check??

          • SPC 3.1.1.1.1

            It's an interesting timeline.

            17 June the Southland farmer gets HomeD.

            19 June a policemen is shot.

            An arrest date .. hard to find.*

            To Nash the point of the arms legislation was to prevent killings.+

            He makes a public comment on ZB radio in 2020*+ after the arrest and via the SG and AG gets a warning. By that time he had already talked by phone to police about the Southland sentence.

            Then in 2022 makes a public comment about that phone call. As Police Minister, asking for trouble …

            Obviously using the ZB platform to reassure the public of his personal concern about (gun) violence and public safety, but doing so in that way when already having been warned … .

            I once peered into a Minister's office one evening, it was awhile ago now (parliament buildings era, couch by desk) and I suspect I saw evidence of the location of one of Matiu Rata's comics – one just hope it was returned without fish 'n' chip stains.

        • Robert Guyton 3.1.1.2

          "Apparently the Attorney General had seriously considered prosecuting.."

          And did the Attorney General prosecute..?

        • Incognito 3.1.1.3

          … questions will be raised about why he didn’t do the full Monty on the first take.

          Because Hipkins wasn’t PM at the time [June 2020]?

          • tsmithfield 3.1.1.3.1

            By first take I was meaning when he stood him down from the Police role the other day. The second take hasn't happened yet…

    • AB 3.2

      Nashy saying the sorts of things that one would expect from Mark Mitchell is not a good look. Seems that when Nashy goes on ZB he overdoes the regular bloke keen to take it to the crims persona – and forgets to hedge it all with clear statements about the operational independence of the police and courts. It's understandable on that swamp of knee-jerk, right-wing idiocy – anything less would get lambasted as soft on crime. But when he adopts that persona, he needs to be a whole lot smarter and more cynical about the ZB morons interviewing him, and where their loyalties lie.

      Though I do wonder how National's laura norder base will enjoy seeing their party being all woke and politically correct by going after Nashy – just because he had the guts to tell it like it is? '

      Edit: though it’s entirely possible that after having got Nash sacked, the Nats will turn on a dime and say “Nash was the only one in Labour not soft on crime, and they sacked him.” (Never make the mistake of thinking Nats have principles.)

      • Robert Guyton 3.2.1

        "Though I do wonder how National's laura norder base will enjoy seeing their party being all woke and politically correct by going after Nashy – just because he had the guts to tell it like it is? "

        Yes. They will. Get some guts!!!

        • Sanctuary 3.2.1.1

          I agree – while the MSM/press gallery love this sort of thing – they get to be consulted as savvy "analysts", they get the thrill of getting a scalp, and they flatter their egos by being seen as important. The press gallery culture in particular seems to acclimatise its members to this sort of pack behaviour, and it spreads like an infectious disease through their ranks. it relieves them of the need to think, or of the labours of investigation into real stories.

          what is going to save Nash though is the general public will be broadly supportive of his intentions. As far as a majority of voters are concerned his crime is one of over-enthusiasm in pursuit of getting the crims. That means the opposition can only chase the story so far before falling victim to triangulation. It would be quite different if he were Nahia Mahuta ringing the police commissioner to suggest they not bother appealing the lenient sentence of a gang member. That would be a scandal that would have the Pakeha majority outraged. Such is the structural racism of our land.

          And just BTW – I think Nash is a complete nob.

      • tsmithfield 3.2.2

        There is a principle at stake though. As I pointed out below, the easiest way to see how wrong it is is to imagine what it would be like if Nash was calling for protesting teachers to be arrested or given a harsh sentence.

        There is a big problem if politicians start trying to direct police or judiciary against people they don't like. That is why it is such a big issue.

        • Judith Collins, Barbara Kruriger, both interfered in court decisions. Why are they still there?
          I don’t support what Nash has done, but accountability is not high in the National Party at times.
          Whataboutism I know, but they are still there!!

  4. Stuart Munro 4

    I have no sympathy for Nash, whose performance in the fisheries portfolio brings a miasma of putrefaction to everything he touches even without name-dropping Dennis the Menace's dog.

    But, is this not the second time in recent memory that Labour is taking advice from David Seymour? Of the many advisors available to the PM, Seymour is not the one best attuned with the public good, much less those issues of concern to, and preferences of, Labour supporters.

    That police ministers must be scrupulous in their communications is fair, but it is important not to wantonly extend such strictures beyond their natural range. Nash did not break the convention because he was not then minister, and punishing him merely to gratify Seymour is simply weak.

    • bwaghorn 4.1

      Oh common if the crim Nash wanted the book thrown at had of been a ram raider instead of a gun nutter with an assault rifle under the mattress seymours fringe loon party would have been right behind it.

      • tsmithfield 4.1.1

        The point is he fired his mouth off before the trial. Doing that had the potential to cause a mistrial.

        It is not right for politicians to be telling the police or judges what to do. In another setting, that sort of behaviour could be downright sinister. Nash ranting on a populist issue doesn't make it right.

        • Stuart Munro 4.1.1.1

          His ranting (if that characterisation were appropriate) was in his capacity as an acquaintance of the police commissioner. And that's how much weight it carried.

          But Hipkins has chosen to lend gravitas to Seymour's whining, which it lacked on its merits. An own goal so egregious I find myself on the same side as the normally unspeakable Mr Nash.

          • tsmithfield 4.1.1.1.1

            But that was the second offence, having being warned by Parker on a previous occasion. So there is form.

            And trying to minimise it a mate talking to a mate actually makes it worse if you think about it.

            Imagine how upset those on the left would be if Nash had been calling over the radio for the police to start arresting say… protesting teachers or something like that. There would be howls of outrage from the left, and hopefully the right as well. Because it is the thin edge of the wedge.

            • Stuart Munro 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Pfft – right wing censorship and faux outrage must be firmly opposed.

              The right to personal political expression is muted, not lost, in office.

              Hipkins may believe there was the appearance of intellectual rigor in his action, but, outside ACT's circle of slavering gun nuts, the public are not especially supportive of gun nut jobbery, and many likely agree with Nash.

              • tsmithfield

                and many likely agree with Nash.

                I agree with you on that. And that is why he may keep his job. I probably agree with the sentiments he expressed as well. And I actually quite like Nash. But, I think we all need to be concerned about the precedent this sort of behaviour sets, and what future ramifications there could be if that behaviour is not sanctioned sufficiently.

                The right to personal political expression is muted, not lost, in office.

                Sure. The right to personal expression still exists in politics. But in a general, but not specific sense. So:

                "I think criminals who commit horrendous crimes should be locked up for longer" is OK so far as political expression is concerned.

                But saying before a trial:

                "What Joe Bloggs did is horrendous and he needs to be locked up for a long time" definitely is not. Because it could be seen as an attempt to influence the process and may have unforseen consequences in terms of a possible mistrial.

                While the public may well agree with the sentiment, they may be a lot less forgiving if expressing that sentiment allowed a nasty criminal back on the streets.

              • tsmithfield

                Pfft – right wing censorship and faux outrage must be firmly opposed.

                So, do you think that left wing censorship and faux outrage is good and should be encouraged?

                • Stuart Munro

                  So, do you think that left wing censorship and faux outrage is good and should be encouraged?

                  Why would you think that? We have had several successive instances of this phenomenon, Campbell, Lineker, and now Nash.

                  Once is happenstance – twice coincidence – thrice enemy action.

                  If you have comparable Left instances I am sure we are all ears.

            • SPC 4.1.1.1.1.2

              No it was not, the timeline would indicate that the phone talk with a policeman was prior to the public comment at the arrest of the person who shot the police officer – that led to the SG and AG warning.

  5. Phillip ure 5

    Hipkins doesn't want to fire nash because centre/right voters like him…end of story..

    One gets the feeling hipkins would clasp cleopatra's asp to his bosom..if it would help him get over the line..

    But nash is looking untenable..

    • Phillip ure 5.1

      And…re nash in fisheries..my boy has just done his master's thesis..and it includes some pretty sharp comments on how nash was/is owned by those he is meant to regulate..

      And it does bear remembering how nash won his seat..

      Remember how local righties supported him to the extent they got that piece of work from the sensible sentencing trust to stand and split the right vote in what had been a safe tory seat..

      It pays to remember history. .and I won't be sad to see him go…

      I can't think of any labour politician that is more right-wing than him…

      No loss…

    • Robert Guyton 5.2

      Cleo had an asp?

      Nice to see you back in the commentary box, Phillip.

      • Phillip ure 5.2.1

        Yes..she committed suicide by clasping one to her bosom..

        Hello Robert..thank you for your welcome..

        It's election year..a time when arguments can matter..

        I am also contemplating wading back into the kiwiblog swamp..

        To bait and harrass them..in a general sort of way..

        • devil Oh yes.. bother them.

          • Phillip ure 5.2.1.1.1

            I don't know if I have the stomach for it…

            I went and had a look..and good grief!… it's even worse than it used to be….there is some deeply delusional crap going on there…real table-leg chewing stuff..

            I blame trump…

        • Incognito 5.2.1.2

          I am also contemplating wading back into the kiwiblog swamp..

          To bait and harrass [sic] them..in a general sort of way..

          groan

          And RWNJs will come over here and return the favour, which is just what we need in Election Year or any year for that matter. Why don’t you use Social Media for baiting & harassing each other? It is perfect for that!

  6. Darien Fenton 6

    A couple of points : firstly, the Chris Carter situation was completely different. He undermined the leadership and his caucus colleagues by distributing a letter to the media. I remember it well. He hurt a lot of us by this action because we liked Chris. I am glad he is back, and would also say he did a lot of productive work in Afghanistan. Secondly, there is a game in Parliament, where the opposition tries to score by taking down a Minister to undermine the government. They are like wolverines who smell blood often aided and abetted by the media. Stu hasn't helped, but be careful you don't get too caught up in the game, which is not only to destabilise the government, but in Stu's case, take the seat of Napier from Labour.

    • Anne 6.1

      I can picture the scenario:

      Nash was extraordinarily stupid to have mentioned that Coster phone-call to Hosking of all people. The moment he got a chance Hosking would have been on the phone to Luxon's office and spreading it around among his National Parry mates. I have the impression they had all their ducks in a row before they went public.

      Nash can be his own worst enemy sometimes. He appears to have some difficulty judging some individuals for what they are. Never ever trust a Nat no matter how jolly they may seem to be. It is not in their bones to be straight up and honest about anything unless it is to their advantage.

      • tsmithfield 6.1.1

        “Nash can be his own worst enemy sometimes. He appears to have some difficulty judging some individuals for what they are.”

        Doesn't that indicate a big problem though. Because it sounds to me that he is a loose cannon with a motor-mouth. So, what is to say he won't do this sort of thing again? It may not have had any negative consequences to date. But next time it might.

        • Anne 6.1.1.1

          Yes, it does indicate he has a problem. He opens his mouth sometimes before engaging his brain. It should be the other way round. He's not alone. We've all done it, but most of us learn over time when to keep our mouth shut. Poor old Stuart hasn't quite got the hang of it yet.

          It wasn't a serious case of misjudgment and Coster himself has said so, but he did need to be taught a lesson.

          As for NAct calling for his head on a chopping block… that is very much a pot/kettle response and should be treated as such.

          • tsmithfield 6.1.1.1.1

            In many respects, Nash is one of the likeable and effective MPs in the Labour ranks. So, I don't wish him ill-will.

            One of the key considerations is whether he is likely to offend again in the future. As the saying goes, previous behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour. And there has been previous behaviour on two occasions now that we are aware of.

            As I said, such mis-speaks could potentially have drastic consequences. That is what worries me about Nash. Because I am not sure if he can help himself.

            • tc 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Effective for who ? Fisheries industry aside.

              You're onto it, he can't help himself and did the right thing resigning.

              Underperforming is something he's got plenty of form in and the police need a shake his matey approach isn't suitable for. Never rated him.

      • Lukas 6.1.2

        Anne, you do realise that Nash made these comments on a live interview? Hosking did not need to “jump on the phone to Luxon’s office” because the comments were broadcast live on the highest rating morning radio show in the country. There is no vast right wing conspiracy involved in this!

        • Anne 6.1.2.1

          "There is no vast right wing conspiracy involved in this!"

          Who said there was. surprise

          Go back to Kiwiblog. Its more your level.

    • Phillip ure 6.2

      @ ms. Fenton ..

      Maybe labour could ask that toe-rag from the sensible sentencing trust to stand again..?

      To split that right-wing vote…?

      It worked a treat that other time..

  7. Incognito 7

    The worst outcome of all this is that it emboldens Newstalk ZB and its MO.

    • Maurice 7.1

      Even worse is the perception that much of Parliament (not just the Government!) is full of gaffes and gotchas which makes them ALL look tired and past their use by date.

      Perhaps we the voters need to do a clean sweep and replace them with a new bunch … who will inevitably become the same?

    • Sanctuary 7.2

      Yeah – they'd taken a Fox/Dominion text messages credibility hit due to their irresponsible culture war angles on Gabrielle, now Nash has put the likes of Hosking and Soper back on the news agenda.

    • Craig H 7.3

      Annoyingly so. On the other hand, it's now the perfect example to add to any answer by ministers to questions about particular sentences/crimes/policing in general. "Sorry, can't answer that as operational independence of the Police must be maintained." Followed by "see Minister Nash's example for why I won't be commenting further" and an unspoken 'especially not to the likes of you'…

  8. Ad 8

    Prime Minister Hipkins needs to figure that it's not enough to stop things or fire people.

    This mode of smashing everything and anyone that tilts his rudder away from winning the election has to stop at some point.

    Pure political management just isn't enough.

    We will vote for people and parties that give us a reason.

    In the words of the Prophet Springsteen, "At the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe."

    Hey Hipkins: give us a reason to vote for you.

  9. Corey 9

    Stuart is extremely popular in his region and brings in votes.

    He was beyond stupid to say he tried to interfere in a case like that and on zb of all places and if the allegations about his relationship with the forestry industry are true then he is even more foolish.

    Hes a proud descendant of Walter Nash, that ruthless bastard who demanded Nordmeyer make the black budget as painful as possible while running around showing everyone his gold watches and pendents and somehow was shocked when kiwis through him out after one term for inflicting so much hardship on them.

    • Phillip ure 9.1

      @corey..

      My understanding is that nash was lange..and nordmyer was his douglas…

      And that like lange nash can be criticised for not standing up to him..

      And nash had a bit of the ardern about him..

      Both seeming more comfortable with big ideas on the international stage..

  10. Maurice 10

    This may only be the start – another one gone

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/486186/labour-mp-for-whangarei-announces-retirement

    Labour MP Emily Henderson will retire from politics at the upcoming election after three years representing Whangārei.

    Henderson made history as the first woman electorate MP to represent Whangārei and the first Labour MP for Whangārei in over 45 years.

    She was first elected in 2020, narrowly beating National MP Dr Shane Reti.

    • Craig H 10.1

      A few MPs have already announced retirements, so she isn't exactly the start of that trend, but agree that there could be a few more yet.

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  • Smokefree Amendment Bill Introduced
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  • Targeted support for young people
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  • Speech to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce
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  • Inquiry announced into school property
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    7 days ago
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  • Appointment round for King’s Counsel announced
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  • Appointments to Antarctica New Zealand Board
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  • Strengthening the Single Economic Market
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  • Greater focus on work will reduce child poverty
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  • NZ announces new support for Ukraine
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    1 week ago
  • Finalists of Ahuwhenua Trophy announced
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  • PM shocked and saddened at death of Efeso Collins
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  • Greater support for social workers
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