You haven't heard of these two wildly popular New Zealand musicians
Rap recorded in Auckland bedrooms has gone global
Kia ora and welcome to The Weekend, your curation of good links from The Spinoff and beyond. I’m starting my Saturday HUNGRY and NOSTALGIC thanks to Perzen Patel’s lovely article about Indian snack food. Her mention of Cheeslings, particularly — weird synthetically cheesy crunchy little pastry packets — is making me feel like I’m 12 again, flocking around one of my parents as they opened the jar of snacks. And if you’ve never had a spicy banana chip, you are missing out. I might go look for some imported treats this morning, but first, let’s get to the other treats (good links).
-Shanti Mathias, staff writer
Two of New Zealand’s biggest music stars are Spotify rappers you might not have heard of
Chris Schulz has a cool story this morning about SXMPRA and Lilbubblegum, two rap artists making it big on Spotify. I know nothing about this sort of music so I’ll let Chris take it away: “They’re not household names, yet for the past couple of years, SXMPRA and Lilbubblegum have racked up Spotify plays above artists like Six60 and L.A.B. ‘That's what the internet can do for you,’ they told me over burgers recently. Starting on TikTok, their brand of ‘phonk’ – a dark subset of hip-hop fusing metal, drum’n’bass and Soundcloud rap – has taken off around the world and now they're able to travel, they're heading to play short but energetic and sometimes violent shows around the world. They still record music in their bedrooms, and that’s how they like it.”
One night (and one day) in Papua New Guinea with the world’s leaders
I felt more than a little jealous of my colleague Stewart Sowman-Lund when I arrived at work for another day in the office on Monday while he was in Papua New Guinea with the prime minister. Arriving back in Auckland in the middle of the night, Stewart wrote this excellent story about Chris Hipkins’ Coke Zero diplomacy, meeting Indian PM Narendra Modi, US secretary of state Anthony Blinken and Pacific leaders at the India-Pacific Islands Cooperation summit. I asked Stewart if he had the opportunity to make me really envious by sampling some tropical fruit — but in a 23-hour turnaround, neither journalists nor politicians can expect much time to taste local produce. At least the story is a juicy treat!
Number of the week: 63 kiwi in Wellington
Genuinely got emotional with this lovely comic about all the work of communities which has been essential for making it possible for Wellington to have wild kiwi again. It takes people carrying heavy traps up and down forested gullies; locals training their dogs to avoid kiwi; and restoration efforts that have protected vulnerable kiwi chicks around the country until they were strong enough to fend for themselves. This edition of The Side Eye made me feel proud of all those people — but also proud of those like the kiwi matriarch Anahera, 44 years old and mother of more than 60 eggs.
DoC raises concerns about how kiwi are being treated at an American zoo
A message from Jane Yee, head of podcasts at The Spinoff
All the work we do here at The Spinoff, including our audio content and newsletters, is only possible thanks to the support of our members. We’d love you to help us keep delivering independent media that’s free for everyone. If you value what we do and have the means to do so, please make a donation today.
The people’s story of the Bastion Point occupation
This week marked 45 years since the Takaparawhau (Bastion Point) occupation ended. To remember this incredibly important event in New Zealand history, we published two extracts from a book recounting the history of Takaparawhau from the people who were there. What I like most is how lively these extracts are: the muddy details of camping out through the winter, the hope and optimism of planting kumara and corn, and the solidarity of whānau committed to their whenua. “Haven’t we learnt our lesson that money can’t replace land?” asks Vivienne Smits, who says that her time at Bastion Point was probably the sanest part of the 70s.
More truth than my chest could hold
The year after Nadine Anne Hura’s brother died was “wild and tragic,” she writes. She’s made a documentary, now airing on Whakaata Māori, about navigating these seasons of grief after a suicide. “I go over what I did or didn’t do, saw or didn’t see, should or shouldn’t have done,” she writes, reflecting on the documentary. “We can’t say there is an inevitability to suicide and also keep the faith that on the other side of severe darkness there will be light.” It’s difficult to be suicide bereaved. “Sometimes, we see the signs. Sometimes there aren’t any signs at all. Sometimes we can save people, sometimes we can’t. Sometimes, against the odds, that light will come back on.”
Read Narrating the seasons of grief, the first essay Nadine wrote about living with loss
AI is going to make speaking “professional-ese” in emails completely obsolete
We’ve had e-scooters for nearly half a decade in New Zealand. Where has this difficult-to-categorise form of transport taken us?
Actually, a moment to highlight so many good transport stories: the bus lane camera that makes $4.5m in fines, updates might be coming for Karangahape Road-adjacent streets, and what is with the dearth of toilets around Wellington trains?
New Zealand is an example of how not to do housing in this story about Austria’s excellent social housing (relatedly: I love this video series about “gentle density”)
Okay, also relatedly: Auckland’s outer suburbs like Te Atatu shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of densification inner areas refuse to countenance
Samuel Robinson is a big fan — he’d buy merch, if only his favourite artists sold pieces that fit
The two wāhine fighting to win a world heavyweight title
Shanti’s podcast corner: how abundant free parking does the opposite of creating thriving cities. If you refuse to listen to podcasts (wise! they only cause me trouble) then read this.
Alex Casey reveals the New Zealand celebrity who can’t stop himself using Google Reviews. Plus, what does the pursuit of “the best” make us want?
Goat milk, not oat milk? Online grocery substitutions are a risky business
I’m obsessed with this Reuters series about how bat and human habitats overlap — increasing the risk of further zoonotic diseases in the future
Duncan Grieve ranks the bleak prompts and strange images National used for its AI attack ads. Also, how will AI impact the New Zealand election?
Do you want absurdity? You can have absurdity via this article about the man from some film my boyfriend wants me to watch (The Room). You don’t need to have seen the movie to find it very funny.
Clicking good links is good fun, but something you just need to get off your phone
And finally I absolutely loved watching All the Beauty and the Bloodshed last weekend. I highly recommend catching it while it’s still in cinemas and also reading the longread about the opioid crisis that helped kickstart the activism shown in the movie.