Nau mai, haere mai.

New Zealand is about to hold its tenth MMP election on October 14. It’s becoming easier to forget – and impossible to remember for younger voters – just what a different political world we lived in under the first-past-the-post system.

Today’s diverse and wholly more representative parliament would have been virtually impossible without electoral reform. Central to the relatively monochrome and male nature of that bygone era was the disproportionate influence farmers wielded through a handful of marginal rural electorates.

That power structure began breaking down before MMP arrived, of course. As Hugh Campbell writes in a fascinating analysis of rural politics, Britain joining the EU in the 1970s and the impact of Rogernomics in the 1980s both weakened the old farmer alliance. But the coming election may well prove its epitaph.

The rise of the Groundswell lobby, and the ACT Party’s inroads into National’s traditional rural heartland, are clear signs of a genuine realignment of farmer ideologies. But as Campbell argues, it also means the farming sector – and the country – may find it harder to negotiate and manage inevitable change.

There’s more election analysis here and on our homepage, and we’ll be publishing up to and on election night itself. Until next week, mā te wā.

Finlay Macdonald

New Zealand Editor

The battle for NZ’s farming heartland: Groundswell, ACT and the changing face of rural politics

Hugh Campbell, University of Otago

Farmers once held immense power in New Zealand, and the National Party was their natural home. But the old order has been under threat for some time, with this election making the fault lines clear.

Promises to get tough on youth crime might win votes – but the evidence shows it hasn’t worked for NZ

Linda Mussell, University of Canterbury; Jessica Niurangi Maclean, University of Canterbury

A shift towards more punitive responses to youth crime by the next government could reverse the progress New Zealand has made in reducing offending and addressing its root causes.

Emperor penguins face a bleak future – but some colonies will do better than others in diverse sea-ice conditions

Sara Labrousse, Sorbonne Université; Michelle LaRue, University of Canterbury

If we want to live in a world with Emperor penguins, we need to cut emissions steeply and protect parts of the ocean around Antarctica where climate change will have the biggest impact.

Foreign policy has been missing from NZ’s election campaign – voters deserve answers to these big questions

Alexander Gillespie, University of Waikato

From the war in Ukraine and China’s role in the Pacific, to multi-billion-dollar military decisions, New Zealand will face huge challenges during the next term of government.

NZ Election 2023: latest poll trends show the left regaining some ground and NZ First as possible kingmaker

Adrian Beaumont, The University of Melbourne

The latest political opinion polls confirm the rightward trend since mid-year. But with NZ First on the rise, the shape of the next government remains unpredictable.

Forcing people to repay welfare ‘loans’ traps them in a poverty cycle – where is the policy debate about that?

Hanna Wilberg, University of Auckland

People on benefits are borrowing from the government to pay for essentials like power bills and car repairs. But repayments leave them with even less than before.

From our foreign editions

Too hard basket: why climate change is defeating our political system

Judith Brett, La Trobe University

The rising climate crisis presents an existential threat to humanity yet our government and political system are on a go-slow response. Is this issue too hard for humans to solve?

The rise and ‘whimper-not-a-bang’ fall of Australia’s trailblazing rock press

David Nichols, The University of Melbourne

David Nichols was a music journalist for more than a decade, starting in 1980. Samuel J. Fell’s new history of Australian rock writing takes him down memory lane.

Brush your teeth! Bad oral hygiene linked to cancer, heart attacks and renal failure

Glenda Mary Davison, Cape Peninsula University of Technology; Yvonne Prince, Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Oral hygiene is often neglected but research has shown that abnormal bacterial communities in the mouth can cause serious disease.

Trade unions and the new economy: 3 African case studies show how workers are recasting their power in the digital age

Edward Webster, University of the Witwatersrand

Workers’ power is being recast as precarious workers in Africa experiment with new ways of organising in the digital age

Even before deepfakes, tech was a tool of abuse and control

Tirion Havard, London South Bank University

Mobile phones have extended the reach and control of abusive partners.

Nobel prize in medicine awarded to mRNA pioneers – here’s how their discovery was integral to COVID vaccine development

Alice Godden, University of East Anglia

The prestigious prize was awarded to Dr Katalin Karikó and Dr Drew Weissman from the University of Pennsylvania.

What is mRNA? The messenger molecule that’s been in every living cell for billions of years is the key ingredient in some COVID-19 vaccines

Penny Riggs, Texas A&M University

In the spotlight for its role in COVID-19 vaccines – and a Nobel Prize – mRNA is not a new invention. It’s a crucial messenger molecule at work every day in every cell in your body.

Navigating the risks and benefits of AI: Lessons from nanotechnology on ensuring emerging technologies are safe as well as successful

Andrew Maynard, Arizona State University; Sean Dudley, Arizona State University

Two decades ago, the nanotechnology revolution avoided stumbling by bringing a wide range of people to the table to chart its development. The window is closing fast on AI following suit.