Nau mae haere mai.

It’s just over three years since I began working here at The Conversation NZ. The country had just gone into COVID lockdown and in those early days everyone was wondering what was going to happen. It was all new – which probably influenced my own decision to try something new, too.

Turns out it was a good move. A pandemic isn’t something anyone would wish for, but it certainly played to the strengths of The Conversation’s mission to combine academic rigour with journalistic flair. Working with a host of university experts on everything from the science to the social fallout from COVID has been one of the highlights of my career so far.

We’ve also seen steady growth in the five years since we began publishing in Aotearoa New Zealand, testament to founding local editor Veronika Meduna. With the arrival of Debrin Foxcroft last year, we’re now a team of three. The range and scale of our publishing increases all the time.

But we don’t charge our subscribers or republishers, and we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we rely on the kindness of readers to help fund our not-for-profit newsroom. So if you can contribute anything at all, it makes our operation that much more secure and sustainable in a world that needs evidence-based journalism more than ever.

Just click here to find out more. In the meantime please enjoy our latest top stories from here and around the world, and visit our homepage for more. Until next week, mā te wā.

Finlay Macdonald

New Zealand Editor

NZ’s gas problem: phasing out natural gas in homes demands affordable alternatives first

John Tookey, Auckland University of Technology

Domestic use of natural gas is a minimal contributor to overall greenhouse emissions. There should be no rush to ban it before better, cheaper options are in place.

It’s time to fix NZ’s Sentencing Act, which lets too many young sex offenders avoid jail

Debra Wilson, University of Canterbury

A 25-year old sex offender was given a 10% discount on his sentence due to his age, and ended up getting home detention. But is 25 really too young to understand the gravity of sexual assault?

NZ’s budget used a ‘gender lens’ for the first time – the result was a win for women

Jennifer Curtin, University of Auckland; Komathi Kolandai, University of Auckland; Oluwakemi Igiebor, University of Auckland; Suzy Morrissey, University of Auckland; Victoria Woodman, University of Auckland

Budget 2023 included a ‘gender snapshot’ to account for the ways investment priorities affect women differently from men. More effective, efficient and equitable, it also makes good economic sense.

For a no-frills New Zealand budget it was ‘surprisingly frilly’: 5 experts on Labour’s big pre-election calls

Richard Shaw, Massey University; Kate C. Prickett, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington; Michael P. Cameron, University of Waikato; Robin Gauld, University of Otago; Timothy Welch, University of Auckland

Incremental and pragmatic, New Zealand’s fifth Wellbeing Budget tries to balance cost-of-living support with huge long-term investment challenges – all without frightening the inflation horses.

‘You can’t speak what you can’t hear’ – how Māori and Pacific sports stars are helping revitalise vulnerable languages

Dion Enari, Auckland University of Technology; Sierra Keung, Auckland University of Technology

More Indigenous sports stars are speaking their mother tongues in TV interviews and elsewhere. The challenge now is to develop truly bilingual commentary teams to keep the ball alive.

Climate change believers are more likely to cooperate with strangers, new research finds

Ananish Chaudhuri, University of Auckland; Quentin Douglas Atkinson, University of Auckland; Scott Claessens, University of Auckland

Belief in climate change seems to be linked to willingness to cooperate for the common good. This suggests there may be ways to bridge ideological divides to combat complex problems.

Smart moves: how Auckland can get more for its money from on-demand public transport

Benjamin Kaufman, Griffith University

After a successful trial, an on-demand public transport service in Auckland has been optimised to increase patronage – without the cost of buying new vehicles.

From our foreign editions

Somaliland crisis: delayed elections and armed conflict threaten dream of statehood

Mohamed Haji Ingiriis, King's College London

Whichever way the ongoing armed conflict ends, the loser will be Somaliland president Muse Bihi Abdi.

With Haiti in chaos, Canada buries its head in the sand

Henry Milner, Université de Montréal

The UN is calling for a specialized support force in Haiti, where urban gangs are terrorizing the population and people are starving. Why won’t Canada step up to help?

Why surfing can be beneficial for people with brain injuries

Katie Gibbs, Swansea University; Andrew H Kemp, Swansea University; Zoe Fisher, Swansea University

Brain injury survivors report the sport can give constant opportunities for learning and a way to reevaulate emotions.

Credit payment holidays reduced the mental health effects of debt during COVID – new research

Jacques Wels, UCL; Matthew Sparkes, University of Cambridge; Senhu Wang, National University of Singapore

Credit payment holidays were made available in the UK to help people manage the financial strain of the pandemic.

Trans joy and family bonds are big parts of the transgender experience lost in media coverage and anti-trans legislation

Derek P. Siegel, UMass Amherst

Trans motherhood showcases the unique joys of being transgender, be it through developing a deeper connection with one’s own child or caring for others in one’s community.

Chronic pain can be objectively measured using brain signals – new research

Prasad Shirvalkar, University of California, San Francisco

Pain has long been subjectively measured, leading to frustrations for patients and doctors alike. Identifying neural biomarkers of pain could improve diagnosis and lead to better treatments of chronic pain conditions.