Lessons from the quake

The demolition of the quake-damaged Reading Cinema carpark building, which began on January 4, is now in its final stages.

A hundred days after the Kaikoura earthquake is a good time to reflect on what the capital has learnt. The November 14 shake was a shocking wake-up call for Wellington in more ways than one. We are still learning its lessons.

Public service vs cash

Adrian Orr, CEO NZ Super Fund.

OPINION: Bill English would be right to sack members of the board of the Super Fund.

Harawira tries again

Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira and Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell competing at the 2017 Waka Ama Sprint Nationals.

It's the deal-making season for politicians. The latest is the proposed marriage between Mana's Hone Harawira and the Maori Party, the group he divorced with such biting acrimony back in 2011.

Hatred and the law

Police Commissioner Mike Bush

The call for hate-crimes legislation is understandable and even laudable. In an age of mounting xenophobia, those who preach hatred of other races or religions no longer seem a minor or fringe element. Some of the worst xenophobes now hold power in countries which used to preach tolerance and diversity.

Friends but no deals

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets with NZ PM Bill English in Queenstown.

The trans-Tasman leaders' meeting was a disappointment. The two prime ministers traded bromides about the Anzac spirit and announced small beer news about scientific co-operation.

A swirl of confusion around every emergency

Christchurch Adventure Park shows the destruction caused by the fires.

OPINION: Despite all its quake practice, Civil Defence is giving out unclear messages, and creating more anxiety.

Some deals don't work

Labour Ohariu candidate Greg O'Connor

Ohariu is one of the most fascinating battlegrounds of this year's general election. The odds are mounting against the sitting MP, Peter Dunne, and Labour and the Greens have done a deal in a bid to finally see him off.

The state and the children

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley

Governments don't like launching inquiries unless they have to. The decades-long scandal over abuse of children in state care is not something the National-led Government wants to investigate.

Justice for gay men

Justice Minister Amy Adams

The Government has finally moved to do something about gay men who have been persecuted by the law. Gays  convicted of specific offences involving sex with those over 16 can now apply to have the convictions expunged. This is the least the Government could do.

Good time to reform Reserve Bank

Finance Minister Steven Joyce has announced there will be a caretaker governor for the Reserve Bank, after Graeme ...

OPINION: Graeme Wheeler's departure offers an opportunity to make some overdue changes to an important institution.

Little and the women

Willie Jackson is standing for Labour as a list MP at the election this year.

Labour leader Andrew Little might have frightened his caucus into silence following the uproar over Willie Jackson. But the damage is done. Once again the tensions within the party have been made public.

Lester looks for savings

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester

Wellington mayor Justin Lester's defence of a $3m upgrade of a central-city laneway does not sit easily with his promise to cut $8m from council spending. Lester says the increased spending on the facelift for Lombard Street and surroundings would come from this year's budget rather than for the 2017-18 year, when his $8m savings would cut in.

Keep moving on medicinal cannabis

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says he approved all requests for cannabis-based products that came before him ...

OPINION: There is more to do to strip away decades-old hysteria over "drugs" and make informed and compassionate decisions.

Maori as a core subject

Prime Minister Bill English is welcomed on to the marae at Ratana.

There is a good case for making the  Maori language compulsory in schools. There are also many problems and obstacles.

People's right to know

Chief Ombudsman Judge Peter Boshier

Ready access to government information is not a privilege but a legal right. For too long now, too many officials have regarded it as a nuisance. Too often they have been slow to provide information or even to respond to requests.

The day to celebrate

Waitangi Day Family Celebrations in Auckland.

Waitangi Day has become a day of celebration for many cultures, and not just of Maori culture. All the major cities now have multicultural fairs and festivals, Wellington included. These events have grown as attention has shifted away from the often-fraught official ceremonies around the treaty grounds.

Stark questions for fuel companies

There's disagreement about whether petrol companies "coordinate" their prices - a legal practice that involves ...

OPINION: Why are Wellington petrol prices so much higher than those scarcely more than an hour's drive away?

Editorial: Bill English's mixed bag

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English gives his State of the Nation speech in Auckland.

OPINION: Which English will dominate this year – the thoughtful social policy-maker, or the politician happy to resort to election cliches?

Setting the date

Prime Minister Bill English announces the date of the 2017 general election.

So we now have a date for the general election. It comes as no surprise: many journalists had picked that 23 September would be the day, for a variety of reasons. It's an off-week between two big All Black games, for instance.

Editorial: A late, muted response

Prime Minister Bill English offered cautious disapproval of Donald Trump's instantly controversial travel ban.

OPINION: It was technically an objection to the policy, but it came out as a murmur.

Liaison of red and green

Labour leader Andrew Little.

The Labour-Greens alliance is a marriage of convenience with a pre-arranged divorce. The deal ends on election day 2017. In the meantime, the two parties will work together to gather votes.

When patients kill

Shaun Robinson, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation.

There are serious problems with Wellington's mental health services. In  the space of 15 months in 2015 and 2016 four people died as a result of five attacks by Wellington mental health patients. This dreadful series of tragedies has now resulted in a disturbing report which outlines individual failures and more widespread systemic problems.

Fast route to new citizen

PayPal co-founder and Facebook board member Peter Thiel.

The case of Peter Thiel raises some hard questions. The German-American billionaire and Trump supporter gained citizenship under a special clause which seems to allow the immigration minister to give it to any "exceptional" person he chooses. In this case the argument seems to have been that as a rich investor and charitable donor he would bring special benefits to New Zealand.

The cost of the quakes

Minister Nick Smith with Wellington Mayor Justin Lester announcing new rules for  buildings with unreinforced masonry ...

The tough new earthquake-strengthening rules for Wellington are sensible and even overdue. Buildings with unreinforced masonry killed 39 people in the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake. There are about 300 such buildings in Wellington and Lower Hutt. They could kill many more.

Free trade or bully's charter?

Prime Minister Bill English

Prime Minister Bill English was right to rebuff Donald Trump's absurd notion of a trade agreement with a 30-day termination clause. Unfortunately the spat shows how difficult it is going to be dealing with an American president who doesn't live in the real world.

Quest for more organ donors

Wellingtonian Michael Boyes died suddenly at 25 and gave organs to seven people.

The rise in organ donations is good news. There were 61 deceased organ donors last year, a big leap from 36 three years earlier. This means saved lives and a reprieve for desperately sick people who live on a medical version of death row.

Editorial: Too soon to give up on sevens

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester takes part in a running race to drum up attention about the sevens.

OPINION: Forget what the tournament used to be - it's still a good event.

Time for public holiday swap

Auckland's anniversary day wrongly marks the day when former governor William Hobson proclaimed British sovereignty over ...

OPINION: Bring in a national holiday when we need it most - in winter.

The Trump era begins

Donald Trump lost the popular vote, but won in the US electoral college.

OPINION: Democracy means leaders you might not like, at least some of the time.

Editorial: Welcome noises on trade

Prime Minister Bill English, right, meets with his British counterpart, Theresa May. May has pledged to work on a "bold" ...

OPINION: Out of an international environment of deepening nationalism and insularity, New Zealand might win greater links to some of its biggest trading partners.

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