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Former All Black and Crusaders legend Dan Carter has joined the Auckland Blues.

Today the Blues confirmed the signing of Carter as injury cover for the upcoming Super Rugby Aotearoa season. 

The 38-year-old will join the side as cover for Stephen Perofeta. He is out indefinitely with a foot injury. 

Carter has one of the best Super Rugby record, having spent 12 years with the Crusaders where he won three Super Rugby titles in 2005, 06, and 08. 

Current Blues coach Leon MacDonald and Carter played alongside each other for Canterbury, the Crusaders and the All Blacks. 

The three-time World Rugby Player of the Year left New Zealand after playing a key role in the All Blacks’ 2015 World Cup victory. He went to France’s Racing 92, then Japan’s Kobelco Steelers.

If ever there was a time that children needed the escape of stories, 2020 is it. Today’s announcement of the finalists for the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults reveals an abundance of incredible storytelling for Kiwi kids to immerse themselves in.

The finalist books open their pages to make room for lots of much-needed joy, says convenor of judges Jane Arthur.

“They offer children whole worlds to explore and lose themselves in, which is crucial when there is so much uncertainty in their own. There are ponies, spies, communities, myths and, always, a quest for identity – both our country’s and the characters’.”

The diversity of the names on the shortlist speaks to the depth of talent in New Zealand, from debut writers whose work already shines, through to the country’s most esteemed heavyweights like Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop. There are bestselling superstars, such as Donovan Bixley and Stacy Gregg, and authors more known for their work for adults, including former New Zealand Poet Laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh and director of the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University, Damien Wilkins.

Children are also well served by books that shine a light on the world around them and help them make sense of it.

“They might be creating books for children, but our authors and illustrators are unafraid to tackle difficult topics – big things like the unhappy impact of colonisation on tangata whenua and nature, New Zealand’s place in the Pacific, puberty, racism and abuse,” says Jane.

Despite the challenging times, innovative approaches will connect children with the finalist books and authors – this year’s winners’ announcements will be streamed online, so anyone, anywhere will be able to enjoy the celebration.

The normal schedule of Books Alive events, which see finalists traverse the country talking to school children, will go mostly virtual, allowing even more children to interact with their favourite author or illustrator. The Award’s organisers will partner with the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) to present a series of virtual Books Alive storytimes and events. Plus, an activity booklet packed with fun resources to extend children’s interaction with the finalist titles will be released online.

There were a record 178 entries submitted for the Awards this year.  The winners of each of the six main categories – Picture Book, Junior Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction, Illustration and te reo Māori – take home $7,500 and are then in the running to be named the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year, with a further $7,500 prize money. In addition, the judges will award a Best First Book prize of $2,000 to a previously unpublished author or illustrator. 

The first of the categories is the Picture Book Award where the finalist books, though diverse in content, present a special combination of excellent text and evocative illustrations. The judges felt the titles all have a playfulness and sense of fun, which while important to readers of any age, is particularly essential to engage young children.

The judges found the titles vying for the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Junior Fiction Award were written, edited and produced with exceptional finesse and expertise leading to an eclectic shortlist of books that reflect the past and have an eye on the future.

The top contenders for the Young Adult Fiction Award this year don’t shy away from the ‘adult’ element, with titles that not only grapple with mature themes but do so in a way that doesn’t talk down to teenage readers. Ideas of belonging, otherness and survival through adversity (triumphant or not) speak meaningfully to readers.

The Elsie Locke Non-Fiction Award showcases a broad selection of Aotearoa-centred content brought to life with bright and vibrant illustrations. The judges say this was an outstandingly strong category, with the finalists chosen for the bold execution of their concepts, which engage the reader emotionally.

In the Russell Clark Illustration Award a wide range of styles and talents are on show in the finalists, who use either digital or watercolour media to create sometimes humorous, sometimes evocative and always stunning results.

The Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written entirely in te reo Māori has books that explore the uncomfortable, encourage the normal and relax into the different. But most of all the judges found they have a special glow, encompassing stories that keep the heart warm.

Finally, this year’s finalists for the Best First Book Award perfectly showcase the strength of New Zealand’s emerging talent.

The formidable task of narrowing the field to a list of finalists was met by this year’s experienced judging panel: Jane Arthur (convenor) is an editor, writer and poet; Alan Dingley, an intermediate school librarian; Briar Lawry, a bookseller, writer and editor; Steph Matuku (Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Toa, Te Ati Awa), who writes stories for young people for the stage, page, radio and screen; and Charlotte McKay, a specialist children’s bookseller.

They were joined by a panel appointed by Te Rōpū Whakahau, the national body that represents Māori engaged in Libraries, Culture, Knowledge, Information, Communication and Systems Technology in Aotearoa, to judge te reo Māori entries. Moana Munro (convenor), kaitiakipukapuka Māori for Hastings District Libraries, leads the panel for the third year; Cellia Joe-Olsen is the Tumuaki Tuakana or Immediate Past President of Te Rōpū Whakahau; and Francis Leaf, a 2019 recipient of the Robyn Hakopa Te Reo Māori award for promoting te reo and tikanga within the library profession.

The winners of the 2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults will be announced in a virtual presentation, streamed online on the evening of Wednesday 12 August.

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults are made possible through the generosity, commitment and vision of funders and sponsors: Creative New Zealand, HELL Pizza, the Wright Family Foundation, LIANZA, Wellington City Council and Nielsen Book. The Awards are administered by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust.

The finalists for the 2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are:

Picture Book Award
Abigail and the Birth of the Sun, Matthew Cunningham, illustrated by Sarah Wilkins (Penguin Random House)

How Māui Slowed the Sun, written and illustrated by Donovan Bixley (advised and translated by Dr Darryn Joseph and Keri Opai) (Upstart Press)

Mini Whinny: Goody Four Shoes, Stacy Gregg, illustrated by Ruth Paul (Scholastic NZ)

Santa’s Worst Christmas, Pania Tahau-Hodges and Bryony Walker, illustrated by Isobel Joy Te Aho-White (Huia Publishers)

The Gobbledegook Book, Joy Cowley, illustrated by Giselle Clarkson (Gecko Press)

Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction

#Tumeke!, Michael Petherick (Massey University Press)

Lizard’s Tale, Weng Wai Chan (Text Publishing)

Miniwings Book 6 Moonlight the Unicorn’s High Tea Hiccup, Sally Sutton, illustrated by Kirsten Richards (Scholastic NZ)

Prince of Ponies, Stacy Gregg (HarperCollins Publishers)

Time Machine and other stories, Melinda Szymanik (The Cuba Press)

Young Adult Fiction Award

Afakasi woman, Lani Wendt Young (OneTree House)

Aspiring, Damien Wilkins (Massey University Press)

The History Speech, Mark Sweet (Huia Publishers)

Ursa, Tina Shaw (Walker Books Australia)

Wynter’s Thief, Sherryl Jordan (OneTree House)               

Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction

Kuwi & Friends Māori Picture Dictionary, written and illustrated by Kat Quin, translated by Pānia Papa (Illustrated Publishing)

Mophead, Selina Tusitala Marsh (Auckland University Press)

Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi, Ross Calman and Mark Derby, illustrated by Toby Morris, translated by Piripi Walker (Lift Education)

The Adventures of Tupaia, Courtney Sina Meredith, illustrated by Mat Tait (Allen & Unwin, in partnership with Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum)

Three Kiwi Tales, Janet Hunt (Massey University Press)

Russell Clark Award for Illustration

Dozer the Fire Cat, illustrated by Jenny Cooper, written by Robyn Prokop (Scholastic NZ)

Santa’s Worst Christmas, illustrated by Isobel Joy Te Aho-White, written by Pania Tahau-Hodges and Bryony Walker (Huia Publishers)

Song of the River, illustrated by Kimberly Andrews, written by Joy Cowley (Gecko Press)

The Adventures of Tupaia, illustrated by Mat Tait, written by Courtney Sina Meredith (Allen & Unwin, in partnership with Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum)

Wildlife of Aotearoa, illustrated and written by Gavin Bishop (Penguin Random House)

Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written completely in te reo Māori

Arapū Toi, Moira Wairama, illustrated by Austin Whincup (Baggage Books)

Ko Flit, te Tīrairaka, me ngā Hēki Muna, written and illustrated by Kat Quin, translated by Ngaere Roberts (Scholastic NZ)

Ngā Hoa Hoihoi o Kuwi, written and illustrated by Kat Quin, translated by Pānia Papa (Illustrated Publishing)

Te Kirihimete i Whakakorea, Pania Tahau-Hodges  and Bryony Walker, illustrated by Isobel Joy Te Aho-White, translated by Kawata Teepa (Huia Publishers)

Tio Tiamu, Kurahau, illustrated by Laya Mutton-Rogers (Huia Publishers)


Best First Book Award

Michael Petherick for #Tumeke! (Massey University Press)

Weng Wai Chan for Lizard’s Tale (Text Publishing)

Isobel Joy Te Aho-White (illustrator) for Santa’s Worst Christmas, written by Pania Tahau-Hodges and Bryony Walker (Huia Publishers)

Belinda O’Keefe for The Day the Plants Fought Back, illustrated by Richard Hoit (Scholastic NZ)

Laya Mutton-Rogers (illustrator) for The Smelly Giant, written by Kurahau (Huia Publishers)  

The Ministry of Education has announced that senior secondary school students will be given extra NCEA credits to make up for COVID-19 disruption.

New Zealand’s Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced the new move on Wednesday.

For each 5 credits a student attains towards their NCEA, they will be entitled to an additional 1 Learning Recognition credit. Students will be allowed up to a maximum of 10 additional credits for students undertaking NCEA Level 1, or up to a maximum of 8 additional credits for students at NCEA Levels 2 or 3.

University entrance will be awarded to students who achieve 12 credits in each of three approved subjects.

Hipkins said the move was needed due to the massive disruption COVID-19 had been to the school system. He said the Government was moving to ensure students would not be penalised.

Want faster internet? Then Australia is the place to go because they have just broken the record for the fastest internet.

Researchers based out of Australia’s Monash, Swinburne, and RMIT universities have set a new internet download speed of 44.2 Tbps.

In theory that is enough speed to download the contents of more than 50 100GB Ultra HD Blu-ray discs in a single second.

The new record was set over 75km of standard optical fibre using a single integrated chip source. This means this technology could be used on existing internet lines.

The record speed was achieved, thanks to a piece of technology called a micro-comb. This is a new technology which provides a more efficient and compact way to transmit data.

Now, the researchers say the challenge is to turn the technology into something that can be used with existing infrastructure.

However, don’t hold your Fortnite breathe for quicker speeds. The experts said this kind of connection would only service community internet exchange hubs.

NRL is officially back! The 3rd week of the season resumed last week and our own New Zealand Warriors got a winning start with a 18-0 victory over the Illawara Dragons.

The only draw of the week was between the Panthers and the Knights, the final score 14-14.

Another great match was the Parramata Eels thrashing the Brisbane Broncos 34-6. A match with a similar point difference was the Queensland Cowboys destroying the Gold Coast Titans 36-6 in their home stadium.

One of the big games of the week was the Sydney Derby which ended with the Roosters beating the Rabbitohs 28-12. The last game of the week was the Sea Eagles securing a 32-6 win over the Bulldogs.

Top of the table right now are the Parramatta Eels, but only three weeks in, the leader is sure to change.

On the 25 May 2020, George Floyd became another victim to the inherent institutionalised racism in the United States. The horrific brutality that unfolded in Minneapolis that day, as well as the murder of Ahmaud Arbery out jogging in February, has re-ignited the global conversation towards the need to stand up against racism, discrimination and white privilege.

This change needs to be realised right now — and it must be realised that it is not just an issue for USA. Discrimination and hate crimes are prevalent issues in New Zealand too.

There are examples of racism and discrimination that are easily found in New Zealand. JustSpeak reported that police are almost twice as likely to send a first-time Māori offender to court, than a Pākehā, and seven times more likely to charge a Māori person with a crime, even when that person has no police or corrections record either. Julia Whaipooti revealed that right now, Māori wahine are largely forced to stay with abusive partners because of a fear of enduring police and institutionalised racism.

In March last year we witnessed the horrors of the Christchurch mosque shootings. The Armed Response Trial, which was started as an initiative to control gun violence in NZ after the mosque shooting, had a disproportionate impact on Māori. Nearly half of those apprehended were Māori, with Pasifika making up another 11%. This was exacerbated by the fact that from October 2019 to January 2020, firearms offences made up less than 3% of incidents attended by armed police. Of nearly 500 people apprehended, more than half didn’t have a weapon, and just 14% carried a gun. Racism and discrimination is a Kiwi problem. It isn’t new and it’s growing: 1 in 3 complaints to the Human Rights Commission are about racial discrimination.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – JUNE 01: Protestors march down Queen Street on June 01, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. The rally was organised in solidarity with protests across the United States following the killing of an unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Prejudice and intolerance on the grounds of race begins small, in quiet places, in our everyday lives. When it becomes normalised it can turn into overt racism and extremism. 

With so much of our information today coming through social media platforms, we need a mature discussion about the internet and social media companies — especially when they disseminate hate through our platforms.

Our Prime Minister even expressed: “We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and that what is said on them is not the responsibility of the place where they are published. They are the publisher. Not just the postman.”

But it’s not just laws and politics that need to change. New Zealanders need to step up. We need to speak up on social media and in real life addressing white privilege. We need to be educated and we need to listen. One aspect of white privilege in Aotearoa is white defensiveness in response to discussions of racism. This mean an anxiety, closing-down, and insecurity among white people and white-dominated institutions when the issue of racism is raised.

The fact a lot of racism and discrimination can be almost invisible to white people means that we often shy from getting involved – but this is an example of where we need to educate ourselves on white privilege.

We need to be actively anti-racist: educate yourself by reading up on texts that focus on racial injustice, white supremacy, and the struggles of being a POC in New Zealand. Follow and support organisations working on racial equity and justice, such as That’s Us, a New Zealand anti-racism campaign bringing instances of racial intolerance in New Zealand to light. Listen to podcasts like The Diversity Gap to generate cultural change.

Most importantly, speak up. As Ijeoma Olua said, “the beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.”

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. What is an example of racism/white privilege in America you can think of?
  2. What is an example of racism/white privilege you can think of in New Zealand?
  3. Is it up to the government to tackle these issues or does it start with people in the community? Is it a combination of both? Discuss.

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. Read a book, listen to a podcast or watch a movie/show that aims to educate people on the privilege or discrimination your race faces.
  2. Compare the racism today with the racism faced in a moment in history such as the American Civil War, or the Apartheid in South Africa. How much has changed?
  3. How do you believe we should tackle racism in New Zealand?

Gaming company Twitch has announced that it is creating its own advisory council.

The group will include online safety experts and anti-bullying campaigners in a hope to improve the safety on the site.

The video game live-streaming platform, which is owned by Amazon, has 15 million daily users. User are able to chat with each other online.

The new safety advisory council will help Twitch develop products and come up with new rules to reduce harassment.

It also wants to help promote healthy streaming habits, according to a company statement.

President Donald Trump has announced that the United States of America is removing itself from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

He said he is doing this because the WHO has failed to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and it has become biased towards China.

Earlier this month President Trump froze all U.S. funding to the WHO.

The U.S. gives the WHO approximately $450 million a year. China meanwhile pays approximately $50 million a year — although Beijing had recently announced a $2 billion injection of funds.

Trump has accused China of not passing on truthful information about COVID-19.