Nau mai haere mai and welcome to your latest newsletter.

Anyone who has gone grocery shopping over the past three years will have noticed gaps on the supermarket shelves. While global events such as the pandemic and war in Ukraine have had an impact on some product availability, unexpected events like Cyclone Gabrielle and flooding in Tairāwhiti are also to blame. These local disasters have highlighted the kinks in our supply chains – and the vulnerabilities of our food system.

In our lead story this week, agronomist Alan Renwick argues that we need to be improving the resiliency of our domestic food system. This will include innovation in production as well as a more varied approach to how we transport food around the country.

As Renwick notes, “The current supply chain model is totally reliant on the uninterrupted movement of products across the country through our transport network – in theory, comprised of road, rail, sea and air links. In practice, just under 93% of our freight goes by one mode – road.”

When roads are damaged by extreme weather events, whole regions can be cut off from getting food in and out.

But all is not lost. Renwick outlines ways we can get our food systems back on track – including better use of exisiting rail and costal networks.

You will find more to read here and on our homepage, including a look at how in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie Land the matriarchy can be just as bad as the patriarchy. Many thanks for reading and for your ongoing support. Until next week, mā te wā.

Debrin Foxcroft

Deputy New Zealand Editor

Climate extremes make NZ’s supply chains highly vulnerable – it’s time to rethink how we grow and ship food

Alan Renwick, Lincoln University, New Zealand

New Zealand’s food system – from production to delivery – has been built around efficiency rather than resilience to climate change and natural disasters. But there are solutions.

A changing world needs arts and social science graduates more than ever – just ask business leaders

Richard Shaw, Massey University

From commerce to public policy, cuts to New Zealand’s university humanities departments will have repercussions well beyond the so-called ‘ivory towers’.

Political staffers can make or break election promises – they deserve better management

Jennifer Lees-Marshment, University of Auckland

Having interviewed advisers to past and present prime ministers in Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand, my new research shows how crucial it is to recruit and train staff – before an election.

The future of money is digital – but NZ needs a careful framework to prevent the pitfalls of cryptocurrency

Abhishek Mukherjee, University of Waikato; Paresha Sinha, University of Waikato; Paul David Richard Griffiths, EM Normandie

New Zealand’s central bank is taking a long, hard look at cryptocurrencies and the role they will play in future business. Here’s what businesses had to say about our digital future.

The Football Ferns’ historic win in the World Cup opener scores another goal for all women’s sport in New Zealand

Holly Thorpe, University of Waikato; Julie E. Brice, California State University, Fullerton

A sensational opening match win by New Zealand proves the doubters wrong and sets the stage for a milestone Women’s World Cup.

In Greta Gerwig’s Barbie Land, the matriarchy can be just as bad as the patriarchy

Katie Pickles, University of Canterbury

Are you for or against Barbie? Writer-director Greta Gerwig piles irony upon irony to finally render the question completely redundant.

Life in maars: why it’s worth protecting a spectacular fossil site NZ almost lost to commercial mining interests

John G Conran, University of Adelaide; Daphne Lee, University of Otago; Uwe Kaulfuss, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

Foulden Maar is one of only two sites in New Zealand that preserve fossils showing ecological interactions and features such as eyes, skin, stomach contents and original colour patterns.

Curriculum changes must tackle the lifelong consequences of NZ’s alarming literacy and numeracy declines

Gail Pacheco, Auckland University of Technology; Lisa Meehan, Auckland University of Technology; Thomas Schober, Auckland University of Technology

The effect of NZ’s abysmal literacy and numeracy rates can be seen in employment, health and justice outcomes. Education policy must address improving in these basic skills.

From our foreign editions

‘They weren’t there when I needed them’: we asked former prisoners what happens when support services fail

Lise Lafferty, UNSW Sydney; Carla Treloar, UNSW Sydney; Kerryn Drysdale, UNSW Sydney

Most people leaving prison face an uphill battle of service navigation that is too often deficit-focused, intentionally seeking out the failures of the individual and centred on punitive responses.

Employers will resist, but the changes for casual workers are about accepting reality

John Buchanan, University of Sydney

There is effectively a class of Australian workers who don’t get holiday and sick pay, no matter how long or regularly they work, simply because their employer deemed them “casual” when they began.

As contentious judicial ‘reform’ becomes law in Israel, Netanyahu cements his political legacy

David Mednicoff, UMass Amherst

Benjamin Netanyahu has helped reshape Israel and the broader world in profound ways. And there’s a dark side to those changes.

How burgers and chips for lunch can worsen your asthma that afternoon

Evan Williams, University of Newcastle

Some foods can affect how well your lungs function, how often you have asthma attacks and how well your puffer works. Here’s what to eat if you have asthma.

Actors are really worried about the use of AI by movie studios – they may have a point

Dominic Lees, University of Reading

AI might not yet be able to create leading performances from an actor’s likeness but the jobs of those in the background are far less safe.

Indonesia is suppressing environmental research it doesn’t like. That poses real risks

Bill Laurance, James Cook University

In recent years, Indonesia has slashed the rate of deforestation. That’s why this new crackdown on researchers is so surprising.

Mixue on the march: ice cream serves soft power for China in Southeast Asia

Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat, Center of Economic and Law Studies (CELIOS); Yeta Purnama, Center of Economic and Law Studies (CELIOS)

Mixue’s rapid growth is more than just a business success story. It helps China’s efforts to promote a positive image in Indonesia.

Migrant deaths at sea: the real blame lies with policies created by European states

Kerstin Bree Carlson, Roskilde University

Deliberate policies set in place by European states and supported by the European Union lead directly to migrant deaths.

Visiting the Trinity Site featured in ‘Oppenheimer’ is a sobering reminder of the horror of nuclear weapons

Jack L. Rozdilsky, York University, Canada

The Christopher Nolan film ‘Oppenheimer’ is set to become a summer blockbuster. But one of the featured sites in the movie is a sobering reminder of the horror of nuclear war.

Nigeria’s food insecurity: declaring a state of emergency isn’t a real solution - here’s what is

Stephen Onyeiwu, Allegheny College

Fixing Nigeria’s food inflation goes beyond declaring a state of emergency.