The Spinoff Weekend: Lorde's producer has plans to make NZ music sing
Every story we loved reading this week...
Kia ora and welcome to The Spinoff Weekend, your wrap of the week’s biggest news headlines. If you need to catch up on the serious stuff, like the ongoing parliamentary protests and omicron, it’s all right here. We’ve also covered many of the other stories you might have missed: a chaotic NFT party, a surging market in boy racer cars (and wine) and the bizarre search for some missing skate park rubber mats. Plus, we’ve got an exclusive interview with Joel Little about his multi-million dollar musical dreams coming to fruition. You made it, so grab a freshly brewed (or instant!) cup of Coffee Supreme and enjoy.
-Chris Schulz, senior writer
Around the corner from The Spinoff’s Auckland office, something big has been brewing. It’s impossible to miss the construction going on inside the giant brick Kingsland building, but it’s only now that Joel Little — yes, Lorde’s Grammy-winning producer — is ready to unveil exactly what that is. Welcome to Big Fan, a multi-purpose studio and music-making venture that’s been two years in the making. “I’ve had people help me all the way through my career,” says Joel, about why he’s building the not-for-profit community hub. “It feels nice to hopefully be that person for someone else.” We took the tour, found out exactly what’s going on, how much money Big Fan will cost, and whether Spinoff staff members will be ordering their coffees next to Taylor Swift one day soon. Read our exclusive deep-dive here.
Wellington’s parliamentry protests are approaching their second week with no end in sight. In this report for The Bulletin, Justin Giovannetti describes the uproar as one long siege. “It’s a stationary camp in the middle of one of the country’s largest cities, attempting to wage a charm offensive while simultaneously inconveniencing thousands of locals,” he says. With their own hairdressers and security, Justin remains confused about what the protesters really want. “While the protest is largely described as anti-mandate, I’ve yet to speak with someone who thinks Covid-19 vaccinations are safe.” With more set to join them this weekend, Andrew Geddis says it’s hard to see what the answer is. Arresting hundreds of people is exhausting for police and time-consuming for the justice system. “Do we accommodate such claims as we might a swivel-eyed relative at Christmas dinner? Or, do we wait them out?” Andrew asks. “And if so, who do we ask to bear the cost of that collective commitment?” Meanwhile, how’s the lawn faring? You can find out in our requiem.
When Madeleine Chapman spotted some 50cm x 50cm rubber mats at the protests, she thought about the ones that had gone missing from the BMX track at Ian Galloway Park in Karori. Could they be the same ones? The fallout from The Spinoff editor’s riveting investigation was swift. “There was a lot of chatter between readers who were disgusted by what they thought was an open-and-shut case of protesters stealing, and readers who demanded that I ask the protesters where the mats came from, for balance,” Mad says. “While they were debating in the comments section, a sign was found on the protest admin tent at parliament reading, “WE NEED HELP RETURNING MATS STOLEN (hopefully innocently!) FROM LOCAL SKATEPARK.” The sign then asked for volunteers to help clean and return the mats.” Mad called the Wellington Skateboarding Association spokesperson asking if the mats had been returned, but it hasn’t happened yet. She promises to keep us posted with updates.
Okay, deep breath, it’s time for your weekly omicron info dump. If you’re needing an explainer on the country’s move to phase two, that’s all covered here. “In terms of the approach to omicron until now, suppression might be a better word than elimination,” writes Alice Neville in her excellent breakdown of the new rules. “In phase two, the aim of the game switches to preventing a blowout, with the focus moving to vulnerable communities — those at greater risk of severe illness should they catch omicron — and critical workers, to keep those supply chains pumping.” Meanwhile, if you live in an apartment, Joel Rindelaub explains some dos and do nots for intensive living here. Finally, if you want to keep an eye on case numbers across the weekend, our live graph will keep you informed.
When Shanti Mathias headed along to a Saturday night NFT party at Auckland bar Longroom, she approached with trepidation. “I was slightly worried showing up to this party by myself but once I got there, I decided that I just had to try and understand what they were excited about,” Shanti says. Her wrap-up of that night, captures the gloriously awkward detail of an event that even those there don’t really seem to understand. “I think it was the inconsistencies that struck me most: this is a group of people promising simultaneously to revolutionise society and to use privileges they already have to maintain their wealth,” she says. “I tried to show what this community can and can’t articulate about the nebulous blockchain future.”
A word on sustainable investing from our partners Harbour Asset Management: As the science becomes ever more settled and the projections ever more serious, the need for the world to think of a future beyond fossil fuels is more urgent than ever. But for investors looking to ensure their money goes to businesses and organisations whose ethical and environmental beliefs align with their own, the challenge of choosing a fund can be an imposing one. Harbour Asset Management believes impact investors have the power to use their capital to push companies to an improved and more sustainable future. To learn more about how Harbour operates – and how business is responding to this moment – read Jihee Junn’s feature here.
Behind two gates guarded by a barking dog, West Auckland resident Rob shows off his most prized possessions: two ageing boy racer cars from the 90s. They have worn seats and high mileage, but don’t laugh. Once a cliche, ageing Subaru Imprezas and Nissan Pulsars have become highly sought after collectibles fetching big bucks on the second-hand car market. Prices have skyrocketed over the past year, and show no sign of slowing. Some, like Rob, consider them investments. “People are always going to buy these things,” he says. “They’re not making them anymore.” Others remember their days boy racing around town, and want to preserve a slice of history. Whether it’s driven (sorry) by money or nostalgia, a Subaru Impreza is listed on TradeMe right now for $600,000, and it sounds like the seller will easily get that price. Find out why. Then discover why the same thing is happening with wine.
It’s a worrying time for all of us, including staff at The Spinoff. I’ve been here for six months and every day I’m amazed by the people I work with, and the care and skill that goes into every single piece that’s published. I love showcasing journalists’ talents in this weekly newsletter, and chatting to them about their stories. With omicron upon us, we’re once again relying on the support of our members to keep us doing what we do best: keeping you up-to-date, informed and entertained. Find out how to help here.
Everything else we loved this week …
Minister Kiri Allen says she “just wanted the gay to go away” when she was forced to undergo conversion therapy as a teen. She tells her story here.
Have you seen the absorbing Netflix series Inventing Anna? If so, you should read this (paywalled) interview with its subject, Anna Delvey.
Wondering why John and Max Key and joining forces with the Chow brothers? Toby Manhire runs through their history, from strip club turf wars to hotel renovation sagas and plans to become billionaire property moguls.
What’s going on in the world of onions? Radio NZ has this report on why the export season is about to end in real tears for Aotearoa growers.
Non-alcoholic beverages are experiencing a bit of a boom. So The Spinoff did what it does best, tasting and ranking all of the 0% beers it could find.
Halfway through the season, now could be a good time to catch up on Wild Boys, an addictive podcast about how two boys arrived in a small Canadian community and claimed to have grown up in the bush.
If you’re looking to kill some time indoors this weekend, Horizon Forbidden West is tipped to become one of the year’s best video games. Here’s our review.
Apple TV+ show Severance is like David Lynch directing The Office. In other words, it’s a stunner. In this (paywalled) profile, star Adam Scott explains how he spent eight months filming it in isolation — and still got Covid.
Finally, if you haven’t watched it yet, you have no excuse. Takeout Kids, a new local doco exploring kids growing up in takeaway shops, is delightful. You can binge all of the episodes here and I throughly suggest you do.