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Laura Walters

Wellington, New Zealand
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About Laura
Laura Walters is a journalist based in London, United Kingdom.

Laura spent a decade reporting in New Zealand, on politics, geopolitical issues, and social issues including education, health, mental health, immigration, justice policy, and sexual and family violence. She was based in New Zealand's Parliamentary Press Gallery from 2017 to 2019, before moving overseas.

She's now based in London, and is available to report on local issues, as well as provide commentary on New Zealand politics and current affairs. 

Laura has experience in print and online reporting (news, investigations and features), as well as television journalism. She also has extensive experience as an expert commentator for live radio, podcast and television interviews.
Interview (Video / Broadcast) Vox Pop News Gathering
Business Politics Current Affairs

Simple (And Cheap) Plastic Tote Greenhouse For Seed Starting

19 Jan 2024  |  Yahoo Life
A plastic tote greenhouse serves as an easy and inexpensive method for starting seeds early, particularly useful in areas with short growing seasons like Northern Michigan. It functions as a cold frame, keeping plants warm even when outdoor temperatures are low. The article provides a step-by-step guide on creating a mini greenhouse using a clear plastic storage container, emphasizing the importance of good air flow, temperature monitoring, and choosing the right location for the greenhouse to prevent issues such as mold and overheating. The portability of the tote greenhouse allows for adjustment to changing weather conditions.

OPINION: Poor mental health is one of New Zealand’s biggest societal issues, it’s not a political management tool

20 Jul 2023  |  Newsroom
The article by Laura Walters criticizes the National Party of New Zealand for using mental health issues as a shield to avoid scrutiny over the misconduct of its members. The recent incident involves MP Andrew Falloon, who sent an unsolicited indecent image to a teenager. The National Party, including its new leader Judith Collins, initially focused on Falloon's mental health challenges rather than the severity of his actions. This approach is seen as disingenuous and damaging to the public's trust in the party, which is already suffering from a series of resignations and scandals. The author argues that mental health should not be exploited for political management and that accountability is essential, regardless of personal challenges.

NZ finally joins its Five Eyes partners in strongly opposing Hong Kong’s new national security law

02 Jul 2023  |  Newsroom
New Zealand is reevaluating its relationship with Hong Kong following the imposition of a controversial national security law by Beijing, which is seen as a threat to the 'one country, two systems' principle and civil liberties in Hong Kong. The law criminalizes acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign powers, with potential life imprisonment sentences. New Zealand's government, which had been criticized for its mild response compared to its Five Eyes partners, has now issued a stronger statement and is reviewing policies including extradition arrangements and export controls. Meanwhile, pro-Chinese Communist Party leaders in New Zealand have expressed support for the law. The article also discusses New Zealand's broader relationship with China, including trade and the response to human rights issues, and suggests that New Zealand is looking to diversify its trade partners in light of China's assertive foreign policy.

Select Committee at odds over drug reform

01 Jul 2023  |  Newsroom
The Health Select Committee in New Zealand is divided over the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill, which is the most significant drug reform in the country since the 1970s. The contention centers around a clause that gives police discretion to prosecute for possession and personal use of controlled drugs, favoring therapeutic approaches. National opposes what it sees as de facto decriminalization, while Labour and New Zealand First highlight the bill's tougher measures against synthetic drug suppliers. Green Party spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick argues the government is not being secretive about its intentions to decriminalize personal drug use. The bill aligns with the government's health-based approach to drugs and its international commitments. Despite political challenges, the bill represents a significant shift towards a health-centered approach to drug policy in New Zealand.

AUT cancels Tiananmen Square event after Chinese consulate intervention

04 Jun 2023  |  Newsroom
Auckland University of Technology (AUT) cancelled a Tiananmen Square anniversary event after being contacted by Chinese Government officials who opposed the event. Despite AUT claiming the cancellation was due to a booking issue, emails released under the Official Information Act revealed that the Chinese Consulate General in Auckland had expressed their opposition to the event. Vice Consul General Xiao Yewen met with AUT's Vice Chancellor Derek McCormack, after which the event was cancelled. The university maintains that academic freedom is a core value, but the incident has raised concerns about the influence of the Chinese Government on New Zealand's academic institutions and freedom of speech. China expert Anne-Marie Brady and China business expert Rodney Jones criticized AUT's decision, suggesting it was influenced by financial considerations and the desire not to offend the Chinese Government. Foreign Minister Winston Peters emphasized the importance of upholding political and civil rights.

Calls to decolonise the justice system

01 Jun 2023  |  Newsroom
Laura Walters reports on the need to decolonise New Zealand's justice system, highlighting the disproportionate representation of Māori in the system and the calls for transformation. The article discusses the impact of institutional racism, the history of police and justice systems in relation to Māori, and the recent global Black Lives Matter movement's influence on local discourse. It features insights from advocates like Julia Amua Whaipooti and organisations such as Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa and JustSpeak. The article critiques the government's lack of significant policy change despite numerous reports and recommendations for reform. It also outlines JustSpeak's policy proposals for the upcoming election, emphasizing decolonization, decarceration, and investment in prevention and rehabilitation services. The article is the first in a three-part series leading up to the general election, aiming to explore barriers to justice and potential transformations of the justice system.

Young ACT continues to lose members amid allegations of ongoing sexual harassment and issues with rape culture

01 May 2023  |  Newsroom
The article by Laura Walters reports on the crisis within Young ACT, the youth wing of the ACT Party in New Zealand, where multiple members have resigned due to ongoing sexual harassment and a pervasive rape culture. The situation escalated after the public resignation of the vice president, Ali Gammeter, who cited months of sexual harassment and slut-shaming. Despite the ACT Party's efforts to address the issues, including an investigation by employment lawyer Andrea Twaddle, former members claim that the toxic culture persists. The article details the experiences of several individuals who resigned and criticizes the organization's failure to enforce its equity and wellbeing policies. ACT Party leader David Seymour and other officials have limited their comments while the investigation is ongoing, but Seymour has defended the party's response to the allegations.

Media's role in reporting terror: A balance between information and responsibility

25 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
The article discusses the media's coverage of the Sri Lankan bombings, which were initially reported as a retaliatory act for the Christchurch mosque attacks. It highlights concerns over the veracity of these claims, noting that the Sri Lankan government official who suggested the connection did not provide evidence. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern emphasized the lack of intelligence to support such an assessment. Media commentator Gavin Ellis criticized international media for not providing sufficient context and urged for responsible reporting. The article also touches on the broader implications of media coverage on terrorism, the potential for a perceived legitimacy of retribution, and the need for a coordinated global response to terrorism. It underscores the importance of verified and responsible journalism, especially in the wake of terror events.

Australia’s federal election could see the country finally take up New Zealand’s refugee resettlement offer

20 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
The article discusses the potential impact of the Australian federal election on the country's refugee policy, particularly in relation to New Zealand's longstanding offer to resettle refugees from Manus Island and Nauru. It highlights the criticism from global health expert Lawrence Gostin, who describes Australia's policy as one of the world's cruelest. The article also covers the upcoming World Health Assembly, where health leaders will address the health of refugees and migrants. It mentions the political debate between Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Labor leader Bill Shorten, with the latter criticizing the government's scare campaign on border control. The article also references a call to action published in The Lancet, urging for the protection of migrants' health rights and the adoption of the WHO’s Global Action Plan.

The changing face of organised crime

10 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
The article by Laura Walters discusses the rise in gang membership and the influx of methamphetamine in New Zealand. It critiques politicians' promises to 'crack down on gangs' as overly simplistic and ineffective. The piece highlights the increase in patched gang members and the establishment of foreign gangs like the Rebels, Comancheros, and Bandidos in New Zealand. Despite government efforts to bolster police forces and the Opposition's call for stricter measures, experts argue that these approaches fail to address the underlying social issues and the complexity of gang culture. The article also touches on the changing landscape of organised crime, with New Zealand gangs expanding internationally and foreign crime syndicates operating within the country. Police efforts to combat these issues are multifaceted, involving international collaboration and community partnerships. The article suggests that a deeper understanding of organised crime and a focus on social policies are necessary to effectively tackle the problem.

Protecting National Interests: New Zealand's Response to Foreign Takeovers Post-Covid

05 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
The article discusses the New Zealand Government's rapid implementation of changes to overseas investment rules to protect companies with strategic national security importance from foreign takeovers, particularly in the wake of Covid-19. The legislation, known as the Overseas Investment (Urgent Measures) Amendment Bill, aims to safeguard valuable intellectual property and technology assets from being acquired by foreign entities, especially those linked to the Chinese Communist Party. The law expands the government's powers to scrutinize, condition, and block sales of assets deemed strategically important. The article also references global trends where countries are enacting similar laws to protect against foreign takeovers of sensitive assets. Experts like Jason Young and Elisabeth Braw weigh in on the necessity of these measures and the potential vulnerability of companies during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

Early Childhood Education in New Zealand: A Sector in Crisis

05 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
The article by Laura Walters reports on the crisis in New Zealand's early childhood education (ECE) sector. Teachers are facing poor pay, stressful work conditions, and a culture of bullying, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite government efforts to increase funding and improve pay scales, the sector is struggling with a teacher shortage, unsafe teacher:child ratios, and a lack of resources. The article includes anonymous testimonies from teachers and staff detailing illegal practices, dangerous care environments, and the emotional toll on both educators and children. Experts from Massey University highlight the long-term damage caused by these conditions. Political parties acknowledge the strain but do not support a complete overhaul of the system. The article also discusses the potential for rethinking the ECE model in New Zealand, with different approaches suggested by the National Party, Labour, and TOP.

Kiwi nurse's life on the frontline of the world's conflict zones

05 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
Gail Corbett, a New Zealand nurse, has been working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in conflict zones for over a decade. Her mission in Afghanistan to improve the sustainability of Mirwais Hospital was extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, where she took on the role of ICRC's health coordinator. Despite the challenges of sourcing PPE and the outdated healthcare system in Afghanistan, Corbett and her team managed to distribute necessary equipment. She has worked in various high-risk areas, including Iraq, Somalia, and Gaza, and was awarded the ICRC's Florence Nightingale Medal in 2017. Corbett continues to be driven by her passion for nursing and helping others, planning to work with ICRC hospitals across the Middle East. She balances the intense work with leisure activities and stays connected with her family through the internet.

Immigration policy change sparks claims of racism

05 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has altered its interpretation of partnership visa rules, leading to a significant number of declined applications, particularly from Indian nationals. This change has been criticized as racist and Eurocentric by immigration lawyer Alastair McClymont and has caused distress within the Indian community. The new interpretation requires couples to be living together at the time of application, which is often impractical for those with a partner in New Zealand. Previously, INZ would grant temporary visitor visas to allow couples to live together and later apply for a partnership visa, but this option has been curtailed. The policy shift comes amid a backlog of visa applications and high immigration numbers, despite government efforts to reduce them. The Indian community has expressed frustration and anger, with some individuals facing mental health issues and financial stress due to the visa processing delays and denials.

Chinese NZ Herald under CCP's influence, experts say

05 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
The article by Laura Walters reports on the Chinese New Zealand Herald, which experts have identified as a propaganda outlet for the Chinese government. An investigation by Newsroom revealed that the news site operates under the supervision of Chinese Communist Party authorities due to its operational structure and permits. The site is subject to China's censorship regime and is part of the CCP's United Front Work operations. Despite this, NZME, the co-owner of the Chinese NZ Herald, denies that the site is controlled by the CCP's censorship regime. Foreign Minister Winston Peters criticized the media censorship and the NZME joint venture's acceptance of it. The article also discusses the broader issue of censorship and self-censorship in New Zealand's foreign-language media, with specific examples of editorial decisions by the Chinese NZ Herald that have raised concerns.

NZ’s largest beverage provider linked to funding of genocide

05 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
The article by Laura Walters reports on the involvement of Kirin, a Japanese beverage company and parent company of New Zealand's largest alcohol provider, Lion Breweries, in funding human rights abuses in Myanmar. An Amnesty International investigation revealed that Kirin's joint ventures with Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL), Myanmar Brewery and Mandalay Brewery, have been transferring funds to the Myanmar military, which is implicated in atrocities against the Rohingya people. Kirin is reviewing its ties with MEHL following the report. Amnesty International urges Kirin to sever all connections with MEHL. The UN has accused the Myanmar military of genocidal actions against the Rohingya minority. Lion Breweries, a subsidiary of Kirin, has stated it has no control over Kirin's operations in Myanmar but is advocating for a resolution. The article also discusses the broader implications of multinational companies' responsibilities to avoid contributing to human rights abuses through their international operations.

Kiribati: On the frontline of climate change

05 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
The article discusses the plight of Kiribati, a nation composed of 33 atolls, facing the existential threat of climate change with rising sea levels and increased storm events. The former President Anote Tong initiated 'migration with dignity' plans, preparing citizens for relocation, which the current government under President Taneti Maamau has rejected in favor of 'stay and fight' policies. The article highlights the challenges of daily life in Kiribati, exacerbated by climate change, and the political debate over climate migration. It also references research by University of Otago's Dennis Wesselbaum, indicating climate change as a primary driver of migration. The piece underscores the urgency for both local and international strategies to address climate-related migration, with New Zealand's role in the Pacific being a focal point for future discussions.

NZ quietly prepares for inevitable Pacific migration

05 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
Ioane Teitiota, who sought to become the world's first climate refugee in New Zealand, was forced to return to Kiribati after his plea was rejected. The UN refugee framework does not currently recognize climate change as grounds for refugee status. New Zealand politicians, including Green Party leader James Shaw and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, have shifted their language from 'climate refugee' to focusing on adaptation and potential migration due to climate change. Despite abandoning a specific climate change visa, New Zealand is planning for the inevitable displacement of Pacific peoples due to climate change, with a focus on allowing them to remain on their land with dignity. A cabinet paper released by Foreign Minister Winston Peters outlines New Zealand's action plan, emphasizing adaptation and preparation for migration. Defence Minister Ron Mark acknowledges the potential security risks associated with climate migration. The article is part of a series exploring climate migration in the Pacific, with the reporter's travel funded by New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Is New Zealand at risk of a fentanyl crisis?

05 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
The article by Laura Walters discusses the potential risk of a fentanyl crisis in New Zealand, drawing parallels with the opioid crises in the US and Canada. It highlights the slight increase in fentanyl seizures and its presence in wastewater, indicating a rise in use. New Zealand authorities, including the police and customs, are closely monitoring the situation and have developed an action plan. The drug's potency and the risk of secondary exposure to emergency responders are noted concerns. Despite the increase in seizures and prescriptions, the overall consumption remains low, and New Zealand's strict prescription controls are credited for preventing widespread misuse. The article also mentions the use of wastewater testing to monitor drug consumption, though this method has limitations. Police Minister Stuart Nash is keeping informed on the issue, and experts from Massey University comment on the challenges of measuring fentanyl use and the importance of both supply and demand reduction strategies. The police are confident in their ability to respond if the situation escalates.

The lobbyist in the inner circle

05 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
The article by Laura Walters discusses concerns about the relationship between lobbyist Gordonjon Thompson and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Thompson, a director of the Auckland-based lobbying firm Thompson Lewis, has a long-standing personal relationship with Ardern and served as her interim chief of staff. Despite no rules being broken, industry insiders express unease due to the lack of a cooling-off period or lobbyist register in New Zealand. Thompson Lewis represents Huawei, which has heightened concerns given the sensitive nature of the company's business. The article explores the potential conflict of interest and the need for transparency in government relations, highlighting the differences in regulation compared to other countries and the reliance on self-policing within the lobbying industry in New Zealand.

Translation of Winston Peters' name sparks media ethics debate

05 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
The article by Laura Walters discusses the controversy surrounding the translation of New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters' name in Chinese-language media in New Zealand. The term '老皮' (Lǎo pí), which has been used to refer to Peters, translates to various terms such as 'old naughty' or 'old fart', and its use has raised questions about objectivity and potential bias. China experts and media ethics professionals have expressed concerns over the use of such nicknames in reporting, suggesting it could be derogatory and influence audience perspectives. The article also touches on the broader issue of the Chinese Communist Party's control over Chinese diaspora media and the potential for foreign interference in New Zealand's media landscape. The Justice Select Committee is examining the matter as part of its inquiry into foreign interference, with submissions from China scholar Anne-Marie Brady and others.

Ignored: Sexual assault in youth politics

05 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
The article by Laura Walters reports on a young woman's claim of sexual assault by a man involved in New Zealand youth politics and his ties to Young ACT. Despite reporting the incident to Young ACT, the man's employer, and ACT Party leader David Seymour, the woman has received no support or action from these parties. Young ACT had previously stated it was improving its culture and processes for handling sexual harassment and abuse, but the findings of an independent investigation into misconduct within the organization will not be made public, and no further action will be taken. The woman, along with former Young ACT vice president Ali Gammeter, who resigned citing sexual harassment, feel let down by the lack of support and accountability from the political youth wing and the ACT Party. The article highlights the broader issue of sexual assault and harassment within political youth wings in New Zealand.

While the world is talking about defunding police, New Zealand is adding 1800 extra officers to its force

01 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
In the wake of global discussions on defunding the police, New Zealand is countering the trend by adding 1800 new officers to its force. The move is part of the coalition government's promise and contrasts with the approach of some countries following the death of George Floyd in the United States. New Zealand's police leadership and supporters argue that the country's situation is different and that more resources are needed to improve community partnerships and outcomes. Critics, however, advocate for redirecting funds towards community initiatives to tackle the root causes of crime. Despite efforts to diversify the force and create community strategies, statistics still show disproportionate negative outcomes for Māori in the criminal justice system. The article discusses various perspectives on systemic racism within New Zealand's police force and highlights initiatives aimed at reforming policing and addressing the drivers of crime.

China expert Peter Humphrey on the risks of extradition to China

01 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
Peter Humphrey, a UK-based China expert and former investigator, is offering his testimony to courts worldwide to prevent extraditions to China, citing the lack of a fair justice system. He is involved in the case of Kyung Yup Kim, a New Zealand resident facing extradition to China for murder charges. New Zealand's Court of Appeal has recently questioned the extradition due to human rights concerns. Humphrey criticizes China's judicial system, claiming it lacks independence and is controlled by the Communist Party, leading to unfair trials and certain convictions. He shared his harrowing experience in a Chinese prison, highlighting the absence of fair legal processes and humane treatment. The article also touches on global implications, mentioning Operation Foxhunt and the international attention on Hong Kong's extradition laws. Justice Minister Andrew Little acknowledges the complexity of balancing international obligations with human rights considerations.

Political hopefuls peddling conspiracy theories have been rejected by New Zealand voters

01 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
The article by Laura Walters discusses the failure of political candidates in New Zealand who relied on conspiracy theories and misinformation to win seats in Parliament. Despite online popularity, parties like Advance NZ, co-led by Billy Te Kahika Jr., and others such as Vision New Zealand and the New Conservative Party, did not translate their online traction into votes. The article explores reasons for this disconnect, including high levels of trust in the government and satisfaction with its actions, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. Experts like Karen Douglas from the University of Kent and Marc Tuters from the University of Amsterdam provide insights into the psychology behind conspiracy theories and the role of democratic institutions and media coverage in curbing the spread of such ideologies. The article also compares the situation to Canadian politics, where Maxime Bernier's People’s Party faced a similar rejection. The piece concludes that while conspiracy theories may not be appealing currently due to societal trust, they could become relevant again if situations change.

The Unseen Struggle: New Zealand's Education System and Dyslexia

01 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
The article by Laura Walters discusses the challenges faced by children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities in New Zealand's education system. Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin is working on the Government’s Draft Disabilities and Learning Support Action Plan, which aims to address the lack of centralized data on students with learning needs and to reform the way the education system supports neurodiverse learners. The article highlights the absence of standardized assessments and the high cost of private diagnosis. It also touches on the potential negative effects of labeling children during screening and the need for more resources and training for teachers. The piece includes perspectives from experts at Massey University's Equity Through Education Centre and a neurodiversity education specialist, emphasizing the importance of inclusive education and the potential benefits of the government's plan. The article ends with a note of optimism from Dr. Wendy Holley-Boen about the future of New Zealand's education system.

Censorship in Chinese-language media in New Zealand

01 Apr 2023  |  Newsroom
Laura Walters reports on the growing concerns of censorship in Chinese-language media in New Zealand, influenced by Chinese state officials. The article details instances where the Chinese New Zealand Herald, partially owned by NZME, has been accused of altering content to favor the Chinese government. Examples include the omission of critical quotes in translated articles and the retraction of pieces covering sensitive topics like the Hong Kong protests. The issue is linked to the Chinese Communist Party's United Front work, aiming to control the diaspora's media narrative. Concerns are heightened by recent political donation scandals and inquiries into foreign interference. The Media Council, responsible for upholding media standards, faces challenges in regulating foreign-language media due to translation barriers and a lack of awareness within the Chinese community in New Zealand. Foreign Minister Winston Peters criticizes the acceptance of foreign censorship, emphasizing the importance of press freedom, a principle New Zealand has historically fought for.

Issues of fairness and inclusion plagues minor parties in NZ’s crowded political landscape

15 Mar 2023  |  Newsroom
The article by Laura Walters discusses the challenges faced by minor parties in New Zealand's political landscape, particularly in terms of fairness and inclusion in election campaigns. It highlights the difficulties these parties face in gaining media coverage and participating in televised debates. The article examines the criteria for inclusion in debates, the allocation of election broadcast funding, and the potential need for public funding for campaigns. Geoff Simmons, leader of TOP, criticizes the current system as undemocratic and stifling new ideas. The article also touches on the performance of minor parties in polls and their strategies for gaining public attention. It raises questions about the balance between quality and quantity in debates, the fairness of funding allocations, and the role of the media in covering minor parties. The article suggests that while there is no easy solution, it is crucial for democracy that voters have a choice and are informed about all parties' offerings.

New Zealand universities become battlegrounds for free speech amid Hong Kong protests

15 Mar 2023  |  Newsroom
New Zealand universities, particularly the University of Auckland, are facing challenges related to free speech and foreign interference amidst pro-Hong Kong protests. A physical altercation at the University of Auckland and the cancellation of a Tiananmen Square event at AUT have highlighted the tensions. Students have created 'Lennon Walls' to express pro-democracy sentiments, which have been met with opposition from pro-Chinese Communist Party individuals. Education Minister Chris Hipkins and ACT leader David Seymour have emphasized the importance of upholding democratic freedoms and the responsibility of universities to protect these values. The University of Auckland is conducting an investigation into the altercation, and there is a petition for the protection of Hong Kong students. The incidents reflect broader concerns about China's influence in the region and the state of academic freedom in New Zealand.

I wrote for a website that turned out to be a Russian disinformation campaign

15 Mar 2023  |  Newsroom
Laura Walters, a freelance journalist, recounts her experience of unknowingly writing for Peace Data, a website later revealed to be part of a Russian disinformation operation by the Internet Research Agency. Walters describes her initial contact with the site through a LinkedIn message from 'Alice Schultz', her subsequent article on Chinese influence in New Zealand, and her shock upon learning the truth from Reuters. Facebook and Twitter took down accounts linked to Peace Data after a tip-off from the FBI. The operation targeted progressive and left-wing groups in the US and UK, aiming to sow division and spread conspiracy theories. Walters reflects on the sophistication of such campaigns and the importance of vigilance among journalists and content creators to prevent being exploited by similar operations in the future.

NZ’s deportation hypocrisy

15 Mar 2023  |  Newsroom
The article discusses the criticism of Australia's deportation policy by New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Foreign Minister Winston Peters, while also examining New Zealand's own deportation practices towards Pacific nations. Experts warn that New Zealand's deportations could strain relations with Pacific neighbors due to the impact on small island communities and the potential rise in crime. The article highlights the hypocrisy in New Zealand's stance, as it faces similar issues with deportees who have lived in New Zealand for years and have little connection to their birth countries. The piece also touches on the broader implications for trans-national crime and foreign policy in the Pacific region.

The Government promised big on mental health at the last election. How far have we come?

08 Oct 2021  |  Newsroom
The article by Oliver Lewis and Laura Walters examines New Zealand's progress on mental health and suicide prevention since the 2017 election. Despite a 'once-in-a-generation' inquiry and a $1.9 billion government spend, issues persist, exacerbated by COVID-19. Inspections found acute mental health units in breach of UN conventions, with overcrowding and unsafe conditions. The Government's focus on primary services is seen as neglecting hospital-level care. The suicide rate remains high, and the rollout of new services has been slow. The article discusses the Government's priorities, including the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, suicide prevention, Mental Health Act reform, and service expansion. It also covers the positions of political parties on mental health ahead of the October 17 election, with Labour promising continued investment, National emphasizing wellbeing and community solutions, ACT proposing a radical overhaul of funding distribution, and the Green Party focusing on addressing mental health determinants without announcing new funding.

Live TV appearance as an expert political commentator on national current affairs show Newshub Nation.

Debate fatigue is setting in

02 Nov 2020  |  Newsroom
Laura Walters discusses the phenomenon of debate fatigue in the context of election debates, referencing the lackluster US presidential debates between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and the leaders' debates in New Zealand's recent election. She critiques the current format of debates, which often focus on the leaders rather than party platforms, and suggests that while debates are a hallmark of democratic processes, the way they are conducted needs to be reevaluated. Walters points out that debates can be both boring and bizarre, and that the overexposure of political leaders, especially during extended campaigns, contributes to the public's weariness. She also highlights the issue of post-truth politics, exemplified by Judith Collins' false claims during the debates, and the difficulty for viewers to discern truth without adequate fact-checking. Walters concludes that while debates may not significantly influence voting decisions, they are still crucial for undecided voters and should be improved to balance informative content with engaging presentation.

Chinese-language media's independence questioned amid state-sponsored trips

31 Oct 2020  |  Newsroom
The article by Laura Walters discusses concerns about the objectivity of Chinese-language media in New Zealand, highlighting their participation in Chinese state-sponsored conferences and a lack of coverage on sensitive topics like the Anne-Marie Brady case. It details how media executives and editors, such as Lili Wang of Chinese Herald and Stella Hu of NZC Media Group, attended forums in China where they were encouraged to promote Chinese Communist Party (CCP) policies. The article suggests that these trips may influence media coverage and contribute to self-censorship, as evidenced by the Chinese Herald's limited reporting on Brady's research on CCP's foreign influence efforts. The piece also touches on the broader strategy of the CCP to use overseas Chinese-language media for propaganda and the potential repercussions for media outlets that do not align with the 'Xinhua line'.

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31 Oct 2020  |  Newsroom
The article discusses the New Zealand government's commitment to reforming gun laws following the Christchurch massacre, where 50 people were killed by a gunman with legally obtained semi-automatic weapons. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has indicated that changes to the gun laws are imminent, with a focus on banning semi-automatic weapons and possibly introducing a firearms register. The article highlights the challenges of changing gun laws due to the strong opposition from the gun lobby, which has been influential in past legislative processes. It also notes the historical context of gun legislation in New Zealand, previous attempts at reform, and the potential impact of the recent tragedy on the political will to enact stricter gun control measures.

New Zealand has waded into the global debate over free speech versus hate speech. But have we got the balance right?

31 Oct 2020  |  Newsroom
The article by Laura Walters discusses the tension between free speech and hate speech in New Zealand, particularly in light of Massey University's ban on Don Brash's speaking event and the barring of far-right speakers from Auckland Council venues. It explores the national conversation on whether the efforts to curb hate speech are impeding free debate and idea progression. The article examines New Zealand's legal framework regarding freedom of expression and hate speech, including the Bill of Rights Act and the Sentencing Act, as well as the Harmful Digital Communications Act. It also touches on the Human Rights Commission's review of hate speech laws and the challenges of defining hate speech. The piece includes perspectives from AUT history professor Paul Moon, Massey University politics club organizers, and Don Brash himself, as well as the Human Rights Commission's stance on the balance between human rights and responsibilities. The article concludes with the ongoing internal review at Massey University led by Douglas Martin.

Are we ready for the foreign interference New Zealand could face this election?

17 Sep 2020  |  Newsroom
The article by Laura Walters discusses the potential for foreign interference in New Zealand's elections, drawing parallels with the United States' experiences, particularly the 2016 presidential election. It highlights concerns raised by Andrew Little to the Justice Select Committee and the warnings from intelligence agencies SIS and GCSB about the plausibility of such interference. Experts like Curtis Barnes from Brainbox Institute and Anne-Marie Brady, a China expert at the University of Canterbury, emphasize New Zealand's vulnerability and lack of preparedness. The article also mentions efforts by social media companies and international organizations like the Foreign Policy Research Institute to combat disinformation. It underscores the importance of awareness and cooperation among various sectors to mitigate the impact of foreign influence operations. The article concludes by suggesting that New Zealand can learn from other countries' experiences to better defend against election interference.

Kiwi journalist caught up in misinformation campaign puppeteered by Russian trolls

01 Sep 2020  |  StopFake
A Kiwi freelance journalist, Laura Walters, was unknowingly involved in a Russian misinformation campaign orchestrated by the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) through a fake news outlet called Peace Data. The campaign was uncovered by Facebook after a tip-off from the FBI, leading to the removal of several fake accounts and pages. The IRA had hired freelance journalists to write politically-focused articles targeting left-wing audiences. Walters, who wrote an article for Peace Data, reflects on the experience as a learning moment and emphasizes the importance of vigilance against misinformation.

The Bee’s Knees: 1920s Fashion

28 May 2020  |  Indianapolis Monthly
Indianapolis Monthly features a photo essay celebrating Indianapolis's 200th anniversary with 1920s-inspired fashion. The essay includes photographs by Esther Boston, styling by Laura Walters, and various vintage and contemporary fashion items sourced from local boutiques and national retailers. Circle Tower, an Art Deco building in Indianapolis, is highlighted for its historical significance. The credits acknowledge the contributions of the stylist assistant, photography assistant, hair stylist, makeup artist, and Studio 2000 owners.

Convicted sex offender attended abuse survivor meetings

01 Jan 2020  |  Newsroom
The Royal Commission into state abuse in New Zealand has been criticized for allowing a convicted child sex offender to attend meetings with survivors of sexual abuse. The offender, who is under a permanent name suppression, attended three meetings as a support person for his partner, a member of the Survivor Advisory Group. His presence, which was not initially disclosed to the group, has caused retraumatization among the survivors. The commission became aware of his criminal history only after he had attended the meetings. The advisory group was not vetted before being appointed, which has led to concerns about the safety and well-being of the survivors. The commission is now beginning the screening process for advisory group members. This incident is among several issues the commission has faced, including accusations against its chairman and other members, which has led to doubts about the commission's effectiveness and the safety of the survivors involved.

Theft of thousands of dollars of fruit angers growers

01 Jan 2020  |  www.newshub.co.nz
Over 800kg of plums worth $2500 were stolen from Diane Ward's orchard in Levin, New Zealand, just before harvest. The theft left no trace, and similar incidents have occurred in Hawke's Bay and Horowhenua, with avocados, watermelons, asparagus, and berries also taken. Another significant theft involved 40kg of strawberries from Swanson Gardens, valued at up to $8000. Local police have no leads due to a lack of evidence. Growers are advised to be vigilant and report any thefts.

Wellington's crumbling seawalls losing the climate change fight - experts

01 Jan 2020  |  www.newshub.co.nz
Wellington's seawalls are deteriorating, and experts suggest that alternative solutions to concrete barriers may be necessary to protect coastlines from climate change. The sea is expected to rise 50 centimeters in the next 50 years, posing a risk to thousands of buildings in New Zealand. Wellington City Council is investing in the maintenance of a heritage-protected seawall in Lyall Bay, part of a wider need for repairs across 17 seawalls in the region. Discussions about new funding systems for coastal defenses are underway, and some suggest that communities may need to consider relocating from the coast as a more sustainable long-term strategy.

Same-sex couple feels discriminated against by Immigration NZ

01 Dec 2019  |  www.newshub.co.nz
A same-sex couple, Francesca Dustin and Emma O'Reilly, feel discriminated against after Immigration New Zealand refused to grant them a partnership visa due to insufficient proof of cohabitation. The couple, who met in Abu Dhabi and faced legal risks due to the UAE's laws against same-sex relationships, are now living in Dublin. They argue that the immigration system should consider exemptions for those whose relationships do not fit traditional criteria. Immigration New Zealand has stated that applicants are responsible for proving they meet visa requirements but now offer alternative ways to establish a 'genuine and stable partnership.' Immigration lawyer Richard Fletcher comments on the complexity of the visa application process. The issue highlights ongoing challenges for LGBTQ individuals in navigating immigration policies, despite New Zealand's reputation for LGBTQ inclusivity.

NZ looks for ways to raise concerns over Xinjiang

28 Oct 2019  |  Newsroom
New Zealand joined 22 other countries in signing a letter to the UN Human Rights head, criticizing China's treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang. The letter expressed concern over reports of arbitrary detention and surveillance of Muslim minorities. Despite New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's previous silence, internal documents reveal that officials have been discussing the issue and looking for ways to address it through diplomatic channels. New Zealand has raised concerns during China's periodic review at the UN and in direct meetings with Chinese officials. China responded to the public letter by discrediting the signatories and justifying its actions in Xinjiang as anti-terrorism measures. The Chinese Embassy in Wellington has attempted to sway New Zealand journalists by offering state-funded trips to Xinjiang and disseminating propaganda. Despite these efforts, international media continue to report on human rights abuses in the region, including torture and forced labor.

Let's have a conversation about migration

17 Sep 2019  |  Newsroom
The article discusses the changes to New Zealand's temporary migrant work visa process, which aims to address skills shortages, reduce exploitation, and improve workforce planning. The new streamlined process replaces six categories with a single visa and requires employers to prove their trustworthiness and offer decent wages. Industry associations have welcomed the changes, but there is criticism that the policy deviates from the pre-election promises of the Labour and New Zealand First parties, which had proposed reducing net migration. The Immigration Minister, Iain Lees-Galloway, emphasizes the focus on policy goals rather than numbers, while critics call for a national conversation supported by robust data and projections. Concerns remain about the potential xenophobic undertones of such discussions and the need for proper infrastructure planning. The article also touches on the reaction of migrant worker representatives to the policy changes.

Pacific Island Nations Call for Urgent Climate Action

17 Sep 2019  |  Newsroom
The article discusses the urgent plea from Pacific Island nations for developed countries to reduce emissions and help combat climate change. Nanoua Lilivai Ewekai, a 20-year-old from Tuvalu, has been vocal at forums such as the Pacific Island Forum climate dialogue, emphasizing the existential threat to low-lying atolls like her home country. Despite the Paris Agreement's goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, the world is on track for a 3-degree increase, which would have catastrophic effects on the Pacific Islands. The article highlights the lack of action from major emitters and the strategic interests of countries like Australia, China, and the United States in the region. It also covers the financial aid provided to the Pacific for climate adaptation and resilience, the challenges in accessing funds like the Green Climate Fund, and the need for more robust analysis and planning to effectively target resources. The article underscores the Pacific peoples' determination to stay on their lands and the need for global mobilization to address climate change.

Lack of transparency hampers cancer drug debate

18 Aug 2019  |  Newsroom
The article discusses the debate over medicine funding in New Zealand, highlighting a report ranking New Zealand as the worst among OECD countries for access to funded modern medicines. The report, commissioned by Medicines NZ and conducted by IQVIA, has been criticized for potential bias due to its pharmaceutical industry connections. The article examines the role of pharmaceutical companies, patient advocacy groups, and the government in the debate, with a focus on transparency and the influence of sponsored content. It also covers the political response, including the National Party's cancer policy and the Government's health initiatives. The piece raises concerns about the lack of clarity on who funds campaigns and the agendas behind them, while also detailing Pharmac's defense of its unique funding model and the challenges it faces in balancing a fixed budget with the need to fund effective medicines.

US pro-gun lobby's influence on New Zealand's firearms reform

04 Aug 2019  |  Newsroom
The article discusses the impact of the US pro-gun lobby on New Zealand's firearms reform debate, particularly on social media. Following the Christchurch attack, there has been a significant increase in online discussion from Americans, often negative, about New Zealand's gun buyback program. The author shares a personal experience of receiving a large number of notifications from US citizens after tweeting about the gun buyback stats. Police Association President Chris Cahill has also faced an 'orchestrated attack' from the pro-gun lobby, leading to the removal of a social media post. The article notes that the New Zealand pro-gun lobby has been vocal in the past, but the current level of engagement from the US public is unprecedented, complicating the distinction between fact and fiction in the debate. The government's stance is for the US gun lobby to 'butt out' of New Zealand's firearms reforms.

Advocates say sexual violence law changes are a long-overdue step in the right direction

02 Jul 2019  |  Newsroom
The New Zealand Government is planning to introduce legislative reforms to improve the way sexual violence survivors give evidence in court, aiming to enhance their access to justice and prevent further victimisation. The proposed changes include stricter rules on evidence regarding a complainant's sexual history, modifications to how survivors give evidence, and granting judges more authority to prevent unfair questioning. Despite the high rate of sexual violence in New Zealand, conviction rates remain low due to issues with reporting rates and the high evidentiary threshold. Advocates and experts, including survivor advocate Louise Nicholas and criminologist Jan Jordan, have welcomed the changes but acknowledge that they are long overdue and that more work is needed to change societal attitudes and improve reporting and conviction rates. The reforms are in response to Law Commission recommendations and are part of a broader justice sector reform, including a $320 million investment in the Wellbeing Budget for sexual and family violence prevention and support.

51 deaths to secure funding boost for ethnic communities

23 Jun 2019  |  Newsroom
The article discusses the New Zealand Government's Budget 2019 allocation for the Office of Ethnic Communities, which received $9.4 million over four years following the Christchurch terrorist attack. Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa highlighted that this funding will increase the office's staff from 24 to 42 and improve its ability to address issues affecting ethnic communities. Salesa had previously requested more funding in Budget 2018 but was unsuccessful. The article also covers Salesa's engagement with ethnic communities, the underrepresentation of ethnic communities in the state sector, and additional funding for mosque security, including a project that received $220,000 for security assessments and the installation of AI cameras by Athena Security Services, funded by Al-Ameri International Trading's Keep Mosques Safe initiative.

The Wellbeing Budget's surprise immigration initiative

30 May 2019  |  Newsroom
The New Zealand Government has allocated an additional $25 million over four years in the 2019 Budget to prevent people smuggling by boat, a move that surprised many as it resembled Australian policy. The funding will enhance New Zealand's intelligence and operational capabilities to deter such illegal activities. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has been proactive in Asian countries to prevent boat journeys to New Zealand. Despite criticism from some quarters as an anti-immigration move, possibly influenced by New Zealand First, the Government insists the initiative is about safety and saving lives. Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway highlighted the increasing sophistication of people-smuggling operations and the need for regional coordination. The article also touches on the politics of refugee resettlement, with the Green Party opposing the spending and calling for a higher refugee quota, while New Zealand First supports the initiative. The Government is also facing pressure to change its refugee policy to allow resettlement from Africa and the Middle East without family links in New Zealand.

Newshub Nation Full Show: May 18, 2019

18 May 2019  |  www.newshub.co.nz
The increase in Maori newborns being taken from their mothers by Oranga Tamariki is raising concerns, prompting questions to Children’s Minister Tracey Martin about the efficacy of promised agency reforms. A recent report criticized the Ministry of Social Development for severe privacy violations against beneficiaries, with affected individuals sharing their experiences with reporter Mike Wesley-Smith. Privacy Commissioner John Edwards discussed measures to prevent future breaches. Economist Kinley Salmon provided insights on why artificial intelligence and robotics should not be feared. The show featured a panel including Ella Henry, Marg Joiner, and Laura Walters.

China expert Anne-Marie Brady says New Zealand is at a pivotal moment as it responds to the complex new security environment

08 May 2019  |  Newsroom
Anne-Marie Brady, a professor at the University of Canterbury, is set to address New Zealand's Justice Select Committee regarding China's interference in foreign countries and their political systems. Brady has faced harassment following her 2017 paper 'Magic Weapons', which discussed the Chinese state's influence in New Zealand politics. Despite police investigations, the harassment, including mail tampering and anonymous calls, continues. Brady advocates for New Zealand to confront China and suggests measures to build resilience against interference, such as strengthening cyber defenses and reforming foreign donation laws. Her recommendations also include engaging with Tencent Corporation to prevent disinformation on WeChat and establishing an Anti-Corruption Commission. Other academics and professionals, like economist Rodney Jones, support Brady's views and call for the protection of New Zealand's democracy from foreign influence.

The rollercoaster ride of firearms reform

04 Apr 2019  |  Newsroom
The article discusses the intense debate and swift action taken by the New Zealand government following the Christchurch terror attack, which resulted in the deaths of 50 people. In response to the attack, the government moved quickly to change the country's gun laws, introducing the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill. The finance and expenditure committee heard submissions from various stakeholders, including gun owners, sports shooters, and the Police Association. There was near-unanimous support for the bill, with ACT's David Seymour being the lone dissenter, concerned about the speed of the legislative process. The article highlights the tension between the need for rapid action and the desire for thorough debate, with various groups providing their perspectives on the proposed changes.

Schools Launch Campaign Against Education Reforms

26 Mar 2019  |  Newsroom
The article discusses the formation of the Community Schools Alliance by a group of primary and high schools in New Zealand, which opposes the proposed education reforms by the Tomorrow’s Schools Taskforce. The alliance has launched a campaign against the establishment of 'Hubs', which they claim will end parental involvement in school governance and increase bureaucracy. However, the article points out that these claims are incorrect and that the taskforce's proposals actually aim to increase parental involvement and address equity issues in the education system. The taskforce has been actively trying to clarify its intentions and correct misinformation spread by the alliance. The article also mentions that the taskforce's recommendations are not final and that they are open to feedback before finalizing their report to the education minister.

Schools Launch Campaign Against Education Reforms

26 Mar 2019  |  Newsroom
The article discusses the formation of the Community Schools Alliance by a group of primary and high schools in New Zealand, which opposes the proposed education reforms by the Tomorrow’s Schools Taskforce. The alliance has launched a campaign against the establishment of 'Hubs', which they claim will end parental involvement in school governance and increase bureaucracy. However, the article points out that these claims are incorrect and that the taskforce's proposals actually aim to increase parental involvement and address equity issues in the education system. The taskforce has been actively trying to clarify its intentions and correct misinformation spread by the alliance. The article also mentions that the taskforce's recommendations are not final and that they are open to feedback before finalizing their report to the education minister.

NZ is complacent on human rights

26 Mar 2019  |  Newsroom
Paul Hunt, the Human Rights Commissioner of New Zealand, expressed concern over the country's complacency on human rights issues prior to the Christchurch mosque attacks. The tragedy highlighted the existing issues of Islamophobia and racism in New Zealand. Hunt emphasized the need for a mature debate on human rights, balancing free speech with hate speech. The article also discusses the difficulty in tracking hate crimes due to the lack of specific offenses in New Zealand law. The Human Rights Commission had previously urged for a national strategy to prevent violent extremism. The article mentions a significant increase in Islamophobic incidents in the UK following the Christchurch attack. Hunt, who has experience as a UN Special Rapporteur in conflict zones, compared the intensity of the experience in Christchurch to that of warzones he had visited.

'Panic buying' of guns ahead of ban

23 Mar 2019  |  Newsroom
In the aftermath of the Christchurch terror attack, where 49 people were killed, there has been a surge in gun purchases in New Zealand. This 'panic buying' was triggered by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's announcement to tighten gun laws. Gun shops and online sellers reported increased sales, particularly of semi-automatic weapons. The attacker, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, used legally purchased guns that were later illegally modified. Tarrant, an Australian citizen, had obtained a New Zealand gun licence and was not on any watchlists. Questions are being raised about the vetting process for his gun licence. Tarrant had also traveled to Eastern Europe and expressed white supremacist views. The New Zealand government is investigating how Tarrant's activities went undetected by security agencies.

Turkey’s president is using the Christchurch terror attack to win support ahead of an election

20 Mar 2019  |  Newsroom
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been using the Christchurch terror attack footage at political rallies to garner support from Islamic voters ahead of local elections. His rhetoric has included threats towards New Zealand and Australia, referencing the Gallipoli campaign. However, Erdogan's narrative changed in an open letter in the Washington Post, where he condemned the attack and rejected any association with Christianity. New Zealand's Foreign Minister Winston Peters has been actively working to counter misinformation and clarify that the attacker was not a New Zealander. Peters plans to attend a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul to stand against terrorism and promote values of tolerance. University of Auckland expert Stephen Hoadley commented on Erdogan's use of the attack for political gain and the increasing authoritarianism in Turkey. The article also touches on the implications for Anzac Day commemorations in Gallipoli.

New Zealanders 'panic buy' guns ahead of Jacinda Ardern's crackdown

17 Mar 2019  |  The Age
In the wake of the Christchurch terror attack, New Zealanders are panic buying guns as the government, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, plans to tighten gun laws. Gun sales, particularly of semi-automatic weapons, have surged across the country. The attacker, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, legally obtained firearms which were later illegally modified. Tarrant, an Australian citizen and self-proclaimed white supremacist, killed 50 people in attacks on two mosques. The incident has highlighted flaws in New Zealand's gun laws, prompting calls for immediate legislative changes.

Geopolitical tensions loom over Asia-Pacific summits

12 Nov 2018  |  Newsroom
The article discusses the geopolitical tensions in the Asia-Pacific region that are expected to dominate the upcoming East Asia Summit (EAS) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings. Key issues include the South China Sea, the US-China trade war, Pacific nations' debts to China, and the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. The US-China relationship, particularly their competition for influence in the region, is a central concern. US Vice President Mike Pence and China's Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping will attend the summits. New Zealand, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, aims to focus on everyday issues and uphold the rules-based international system. The article also touches on the potential for smaller incidents, like naval encounters, to escalate into larger conflicts and the importance of regional forums in managing these tensions. New Zealand's role in advocating for multilateralism, inclusive trade, and addressing climate change, North Korea, and the Rohingya persecution is highlighted.

New Zealand's Education System and the Impact of Colonisation and Racism

01 Jan 2018  |  Newsroom
A report has highlighted New Zealand's education system as one of the least equal among wealthy nations, with Māori children underperforming compared to Pākehā peers. Experts attribute this inequality to the lasting effects of colonisation and systemic racism. The UNICEF Innocenti Report ranked New Zealand 33rd out of 38 OECD countries in educational equality. Māori and Pasifika students face higher rates of exclusion and expulsion, contributing to the disparity. While poverty is a factor, it does not fully explain the educational gap. The Children’s Commissioner and Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin acknowledge racism and unconscious bias in mainstream education as contributing factors. Māori immersion schools show better outcomes for Māori students, suggesting that cultural affirmation in education is beneficial. Political parties differ on the approach to incorporating te reo Māori and New Zealand history into the curriculum, but there is a consensus on the need for better access to language and culture in education.

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