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

Politics can be rough and everyone who plays can expect the odd knock. But even seasoned observers have been shocked by the levels of personal vitriol and abuse directed at Jacinda Ardern, particularly during her second term in office.

In part, as Massey University’s Suze Wilson describes today, this is a product of the extremist and conspiracy-fuelled elements that attached themselves to the anti-vaccine protests. But it is also part of an older and deeper traditionalism in the political culture.

As Wilson writes, “Overall, the sexism and misogyny inherent in these traditionalist beliefs mean Ardern is treated more harshly than a male prime minister pursuing the same policies would be.”

There’s more here and on our homepage, including Peter Thompson’s incisive analysis of last week’s light-on-detail announcement of a TVNZ-RNZ merger. Many thanks for your ongoing support and interest – until next week, mā te wā.

Finlay Macdonald

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

From ‘pretty communist’ to ‘Jabcinda’ – what’s behind the vitriol directed at Jacinda Ardern?

Suze Wilson, Massey University

Extreme abuse directed at Jacinda Ardern is part of a wider problem of sexism and misogyny in politics. Research suggests it may be on the increase.

On the 3rd anniversary of the Christchurch attack, the Ukraine crisis asks the West to rethink its definitions of terrorism

John Battersby, Massey University

Western governments’ anti-terrorism strategies are now colliding with public sympathy for Ukraine, and its people’s desperation to fight Russia with any means.

Merging commercial TVNZ and non-commercial RNZ won’t be easy – and time is running out

Peter Thompson, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

Despite years of consultation and planning, the government’s announcement of a new ‘public media entity’ raises more questions than it answers.

How New Zealand’s review of ecologically important land could open the door to more mining on conservation land

Matthew Hall, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington; Allan Brent, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

Efforts to fast-track a review of stewardship land could result in more mining access to conservation land as the governments wants to prioritise land where mining applications have already been made.

Remaking history: how we are recreating Renaissance beauty recipes in the modern chemistry lab

​Erin Griffey, University of Auckland; Cather Simpson, University of Auckland; Michel Nieuwoudt, University of Auckland; Ruth Cink, University of Auckland

To ‘make a beautiful face’, according to one 16th century recipe, you should take rosemary flowers and boil them with white wine.

In the dark, freezing ocean under Antarctica’s largest ice shelf, we discovered a thriving microbial jungle

Sergio E. Morales, University of Otago; Christina Hulbe, University of Otago; Clara Martínez-Pérez, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich; Federico Baltar, Universität Wien

A high-tech expedition to sample the ocean under Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf confirms what the earliest explorers thought: everywhere we look we find microbes, scavenging any energy source available.

Boycotting Russian products might feel right, but can individual consumers really make a difference?

Mike Lee, University of Auckland

New Zealand consumers are using boycotts of Russian products as a way to voice their disapproval of the war in Ukraine. But is this the best or only way for individuals to be heard?

Endurance captain Frank Worsley, Shackleton’s gifted navigator, knew how to stay the course

Daniella McCahey, Texas Tech University

Accurately calculating a ship’s position by hand in 1915 was easy compared to what the New Zealand-born navigator Frank Worsley had to do next.

As the Commerce Commission found, there’s no magic way to make NZ supermarkets more competitive

Alan Renwick, Lincoln University, New Zealand

Most consumers want a better deal, but New Zealand’s small size and relative isolation make it hard for large-scale competitors to enter the supermarket sector.

From our international editions

Tax cuts? COVID management? On the search for the Morrison government’s legacy (so far)

Frank Bongiorno, Australian National University

There is still an election to be fought, of course, but looking back from today it is not clear what the government’s legacy is – or might become.

Trees: why they’re our greatest allies against floods – but also tragic victims

Gregory Moore, The University of Melbourne

While climate change poses new threats to trees, it also creates new opportunities for us to work with trees as allies. We must not work against them.

Putin’s brazen manipulation of language is a perfect example of Orwellian doublespeak

Mark Satta, Wayne State University

Putin often uses words to mean exactly the opposite of what they normally do – a practice diagnosed by political author George Orwell as ‘doublespeak,’ or the language of totalitarians.

Ukraine: Heritage buildings, if destroyed, can be rebuilt but never replaced

Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Queen's University, Ontario

Lviv is an important Renaissance and baroque urban centre in Eastern Europe, and its two remaining synagogues survived mass destruction in the Second World War.

How drug companies are sidestepping the WHO’s technology transfer hub in Africa

David Richard Walwyn, University of Pretoria

Moves by Moderna and BioNTech to make vaccines themselves in African countries signal that the companies aren’t considering licensing its technology to a third party for local manufacture.

Russia’s war on Ukraine is driving up wheat prices and threatens global supplies of bread, meat and eggs

David Ubilava, University of Sydney

Wheat accounts for about 20% of human calorie consumption, and Russia and Ukraine are both major exporters. The war could hit household food supplies in countries as far apart as Egypt and Indonesia.

Two reasons behind the dwindling roles of Indonesia’s two largest Muslim organisations in urban communities

Hamzah Fansuri, University of Heidelberg

My ongoing research has shown the influences of the two institutions are dwindling, especially in urban settings.

Dutch government apologises to Indonesia for war abuses, but knowledge of atrocities is nothing new

Susie Protschky, Deakin University

Dutch soldiers’ own records – especially amateur photographs, many thousands of which survive – have long contained evidence they knew of atrocities.