Nau mai, haere mai.

As omens go, Winston Peters’ claim that he failed to reply to a text from David Seymour because it felt “fake” doesn’t bode particularly well for the government formation process now under way.

One might have thought the parties seeking a governing arrangement might have had back channels already open for staffers to coordinate timetables and organise meetings – or at least verify the authenticity of a mobile phone number.

Still, as a pre-negotiation tactic it was vintage Peters. Now in the box seat as kingmaker after final election results sank the chances of a simple National-ACT deal, the veteran campaigner will likely be a handful for both other party leaders.

As Richard Shaw wrote this week, the last time NZ First put National in office (after the first MMP election in 1996), it took two months of negotiations and produced the most detailed coalition agreement the country has seen.

Back then, Peters was dealing with two political peers in National’s Jim Bolger and Labour’s Helen Clark. That is far from the case now, as Shaw points out: “Indeed, the last time Peters sat down to hammer out a deal with the National Party, Luxon was just three years into his time at Unilever and Seymour was 13 years old.”

In the meantime, there is and will be plenty more to read here, including this urgent appeal for an end to mixed-gender wards in our hospitals on the grounds the practice is unsafe and unethical. Until next week, mā te wā.

Finlay Macdonald

New Zealand Editor

Winston Peters back in the driver’s seat for coalition negotiations

Richard Shaw, Massey University

National and ACT will need to get past their animosity towards NZ First, and its mercurial leader Winston Peters, if the right wing coalition is to have any hope of forming a government.

Mixed-gender hospital rooms are on the rise in New Zealand, but the practice is unsafe and unethical

Cindy Towns, University of Otago; Angela Ballantyne, University of Otago

Many patients prefer single-gender hospital rooms. For women, this preference often comes from fear, while male patients are concerned with dignity.

National drops 2 seats on NZ final results, and will need NZ First to form government

Adrian Beaumont, The University of Melbourne

Coalition talks can now start in earnest after the final results for the 2023 election were released.

How Phar Lap’s skin, bones and heart became ‘holy relics’ in colonial Australia and New Zealand

Katie Pickles, University of Canterbury

Phar Lap’s famous 1930 Melbourne Cup victory united Australia and New Zealand in celebration. Almost a century on, people still flock to visit his remains, on display at three different museums.

Whakaari/White Island court case will change the level of accepted risk in NZ’s tourism industry

Freya Higgins-Desbiolles, University of South Australia; James Higham, Griffith University

Everyone involved in the tourism industry will need to manage risk differently after a court found the landowners of Whakaari/White Island guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Bioprospecting the unknown: how bacterial enzymes encoded by unknown genes might help clean up pollution

David Ackerley, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

Bacterial DNA extracted from soil includes many genes whose function remains unknown. The novel enzymes these genes code for could be useful in efforts to clean up persistent pollutants.

From our foreign editions

Do racehorses even know they’re ‘racing’ each other? It’s unlikely

Cathrynne Henshall, Charles Sturt University

Horses naturally synchronise their running in groups – but ‘racing’ and ‘winning’ are human concepts.

Both the US and Australia are adamant the Pacific “matters”. But only one is really moving the dial

Henryk Szadziewski, University of Hawaii; Graeme Smith, Australian National University

While the US is still primarily focused on countering Chinese influence in the region, Australia is making a real impact with its Pacific Engagement Visa.

A 4-day week might not work in health care. But adapting this model could reduce burnout among staff

Nataliya Ilyushina, RMIT University

The COVID pandemic has exacerbated staff shortages in health care. We need to think about how we can better retain staff in this sector.

Now and Then: enabled by AI – created by profound connections between the four Beatles

Adam Behr, Newcastle University

This new last Beatles song, enabled in part by AI, demonstrates the importance of the profound and lasting connections between the four musicians.

Revelations about Buffy Sainte-Marie’s ancestry are having a devastating impact on Indigenous communities across Canada

Lori Campbell, University of Regina

The CBC report on iconic singer Buffy Sainte-Marie’s ancestry is having deep impact in multiple ways across Indigenous lands across Canada.

Madagascar’s 2023 presidential election is crucial for the island’s future, but it’s off to a rocky start

Adrien Ratsimbaharison, Benedict College

A peaceful power transition would be a sign of a maturing democracy.

Narcissism, immorality and lack of empathy: the dark psychology that can poison elites

Geoff Beattie, Edge Hill University

Elite groups often become trapped in echo chambers.

Why surging sales of large electric vehicles raises environmental red flags

Laura Lander, King's College London; Grazia Todeschini, King's College London

More and more motorists are opting for bigger EVs – but there are several environmental concerns to consider.

Why are US politicians so old? And why do they want to stay in office?

Mary Kate Cary, University of Virginia

Many years beyond the average American retirement age, politicians vie for power and influence. Their constituents tend to prefer they step back and pass the torch to younger people.

What’s your chronotype? Knowing whether you’re a night owl or an early bird could help you do better on tests and avoid scams

Cindi May, College of Charleston

Synchronizing your daily activities to your circadian rhythm could help you improve your performance on a variety of cognitive tasks − and even influence diagnosis of cognitive disorders.