Nau mai haere mai, welcome to this week’s newsletter.

The occupation of parliament grounds might have ended – violently – but questions about its genesis and impact haven’t gone away.

Aside from understanding more about what drove it, how it was funded and whether its ringleaders are planning further action, the most pressing issue is how best to ensure parliament and its grounds are never violated like that again.

As the University of Waikato’s Al Gillespie writes today, the existing rules and laws governing protests at parliament were shown to be woefully inadequate. “New Zealand has more laws about respecting the flag than about protecting the epicentre of its democracy,” he says. “Even at a symbolic level, this needs to change.”

Gillespie argues for a new, bespoke law specific to the parliamentary precinct. The challenge will be to balance better defence of parliament grounds with the right to protest and continued public access. Not easy, but urgent.

As always, you’ll find more to read in this newsletter, including an insightful piece by University of Auckland biostatistician Thomas Lumley who explains why most people who test positive for COVID or are hospitalised with it are fully vaccinated.

Check out our homepage for more, we’re always updating it with the latest expert analysis and opinion. Until next week, mā te wā.

Finlay Macdonald

New Zealand Senior Editor & NZ Editor: Politics, Business + Arts


The parliament occupation is over – now New Zealand needs new laws to protect the ‘epicentre of its democracy’

Alexander Gillespie, University of Waikato; Claire Breen, University of Waikato

New Zealand has more laws about respecting the flag than about protecting parliament and its grounds. The 23-day occupation in Wellington showed how much needs to change.

Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Most COVID patients in NZ’s Omicron outbreak are vaccinated, but that’s no reason to doubt vaccine benefits

Thomas Lumley, University of Auckland

For hospitalisations and deaths, the difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated people is more dramatic. Only 5% of New Zealanders are unvaccinated, but they account for 20% of hospitalisations.

Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images

Why a leaked WTO ‘solution’ for a COVID patent waiver is unworkable and won’t make enough difference for developing countries

Jane Kelsey, University of Auckland

Only 14% of people in poorer countries have received one vaccine dose, but a leaked WTO ‘solution’ to waive patents fails to ensure developing countries can access life-saving vaccines and medicines.


Why has New Zealand welcomed Ukrainians fleeing war and not others trying to do the same?

Jay Marlowe, University of Auckland

New Zealand has opened the borders to up to 4,000 Ukrainians fleeing violence in their home country. Why haven’t we been so welcoming to refugees from other parts of the world?


There is little to stop New Zealanders leaving to fight in Ukraine – but few legal protections if they do

Marnie Lloydd, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

As the number of volunteers for Ukraine’s International Legion rises to a reported 20,000 from over 50 countries, is it lawful for New Zealanders to join the fight?


The Groundswell protest claimed regulation and taxes are unfair to farmers – the economic numbers tell a different story

Michael (Mike) Joy, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington; Lisa Marriott, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington; Simon Chapple, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

Farmers from the Groundswell movement want more concessions from the government but the environmental and economic cost might be more than New Zealand can afford.

Ukrainian refugees in Lviv board a train for Poland, March 15. AAP

Beyond sanctions: 5 more ways New Zealand can help support Ukraine and punish Russia

Alexander Gillespie, University of Waikato

What can New Zealand do now to support Ukraine while avoiding unnecessary risk to its own citizens and interests?


What does it mean to be ‘neutral’ over Ukraine – and what responsibilities come with it?

Maartje Abbenhuis, University of Auckland

Is watching in horror as the war in Ukraine unfolds all we can do? What responsibilities do we – as non-belligerent ‘neutrals’ – have to the war and its victims?

Getty Images

Turning supermarkets into public utilities could be the solution to New Zealand’s grocery problem

Robert Hamlin, University of Otago

New Zealand’s supermarket industry has come under fire for high food prices and lack of competition. Is it time to consider treating the supermarket industry like water and power utilities?

From our international editions

Putin’s fascists: the Russian state’s long history of cultivating homegrown neo-Nazis

Robert Horvath, La Trobe University

While Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the absurd claim to be waging war to “de-nazify” Ukraine, his regime has a long record of collaboration with far-right extremists.

Adapt, move, or die: repeated coral bleaching leaves wildlife on the Great Barrier Reef with few options

Jodie L. Rummer, James Cook University; Scott F. Heron, James Cook University

The reef is suffering environmental conditions that are so extreme, scientists are struggling to simulate these scenarios in laboratories.

How a few geothermal plants could solve America’s lithium supply crunch and boost the EV battery industry

Bryant Jones, Boise State University; Michael McKibben, University of California, Riverside

Lithium is essential for batteries that power electric vehicles and store energy from solar and wind farms. A new U.S. source could provide 10 times more lithium than the country uses today.

Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson faces confirmation hearings: 7 questions answered

Alexis Karteron, Rutgers University - Newark

A constitutional law professor provides insight on what Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court, could mean for how that court works.

Deltacron: what scientists know so far about this new hybrid coronavirus

Luke O'Neill, Trinity College Dublin

Hybrid viruses that are part delta and part omicron have been found in Europe and North America.

Ukraine war: how Russian denial of civilian casualties follows tactics used in Syria

Lily Hamourtziadou, Birmingham City University

Russia denies targeting civilians. But it was the same with its bombing campaign in Syria.

How China is using scholarships to shape Indonesian Muslim students’ views

Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat, Universitas Islam Indonesia (UII) Yogyakarta

In recent years, the Chinese government has used scholarships to shape the views of Indonesian Muslim students on controversial issues such as the mistreatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

Family separations in Ukraine highlight the importance of children’s rights

Christina Clark-Kazak, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa

Policies and programs to address war-induced displacement in Ukraine must explicitly take into account the rights of children, including the best interests of the child.

From message to violence: what to watch for in the media ahead of Kenya’s elections

Aditi Malik, College of the Holy Cross; Philip Onguny, Université Saint-Paul / Saint Paul University

Elites have strong incentives to foment violence. The way they speak about election issues in the media can inflame tensions.

The inspiring architect from Burkina Faso who lifted world’s biggest prize

Paulo Moreira, Universidade de Lisboa

Kéré shows how architecture can build better futures by embracing communities to help catalyse progress.