Nau mai haere mai.

The interim report of the Independent Electoral Review has made some significant draft recommendations, including that the voting age be lowered 16 and the party vote threshold be lowered to 3.5%. But it’s the proposal for a referendum on extending the parliamentary term that has caught the eye of political analyst Grant Duncan today.

There are sound reasons for making such a change, Duncan explains, including giving governments more time to make policy and enact laws between the three-yearly election circuses: “To get a new law from a first cabinet paper to an act of parliament can take a couple of years – longer if there’s a lot of argument. So we’re not allowing much time for governments to really get things done.”

Trouble is, we’ve been down this road before – in 1967 and 1990 – and both times New Zealanders opted for the status quo. Perhaps they cherish a more frequent opportunity to hold politicians accountable. And perhaps the inevitably partisan and self-interested debates about a longer term simply confirm that first instinct.

Whatever the case, public submissions on the review recommendations are open until July 17, so there’s still time to have your say either way.

In the meantime, thanks to all those readers who have made a contribution to our annual fundraising drive, your support is thoroughly appreciated. We rely on reader contributions to keep delivering fact-based journalism written by experts. If you haven’t donated yet and would like to, you can give here. Until next week, mā te wā.

Finlay Macdonald

New Zealand Editor

Extending the term of parliament isn’t a terrible idea – it’s just one NZ has rejected twice already

Grant Duncan, Massey University

A referendum on changing New Zealand’s parliamentary term to four years would be the third such exercise in under 60 years. Why would the outcome be any different this time?

Housing and heritage aren’t mutually exclusive – a few basic rules can help get the balance right

Alexander Gillespie, University of Waikato

Pressure for more housing often runs up against a desire to preserve urban heritage areas. International best practice offers ways to navigate the impasse.

How NZ’s own law helped Australia win the Manuka Honey trademark war

David Jefferson, University of Canterbury

The mānuka honey trademark case shows how Aotearoa New Zealand’s law lacks substantive protections for Māori intellectual property rights.

National’s housing u-turn promotes urban sprawl – cities and ratepayers will pick up the bill

Timothy Welch, University of Auckland

New Zealand’s Medium Density Residential Standards already didn’t go far enough. But by abandoning bipartisan support for them, National risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

The war in Ukraine is escalating and New Zealand will not escape the consequences

Nicholas Khoo, University of Otago

It may be half-a-world away, but the war in Ukraine is escalating geopolitical tensions everywhere – including between China and the US, with major implications for New Zealand foreign policy.

Holograms and AI can bring performers back from the dead – but will the fans keep buying it?

Justin Matthews, Auckland University of Technology; Angelique Nairn, Auckland University of Technology

A study of fan reactions to ABBA’s virtual Voyage tour highlights the ethical questions being raised by advances in holographic technology.

Did ‘wokeness’ cancel Police Ten 7? New research suggests racial stereotyping was the real culprit

Antje Deckert, Auckland University of Technology; Juan Marcellus Tauri, Macquarie University

A new study finds sample episodes of the recently cancelled Police Ten 7 TV show disproportionately featured Māori and Pasifika suspects or offenders. It also under-represented Polynesian officers.

Making NZ’s tax system fairer is a good idea – but this proposed new law isn’t the answer

Jonathan Barrett, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

New Zealand’s tax system might be in need of updating, but Revenue Minister David Parker’s new tax legislation is unnecessarily complicated at a time when we most need clarity.

From our foreign editions

Climate-related disasters leave behind trauma and worse mental health. Housing uncertainty is a major reason why

Ang Li, The University of Melbourne; Mathew Toll, The University of Melbourne; Rebecca Bentley, The University of Melbourne

Renters with nowhere to go. Home owners forced into mortgage stress. If our homes are damaged by floods or fires, it damages our health for years afterwards

Kathleen Folbigg is free. But people pardoned and exonerated of crimes face unique challenges when released from prison

Hayley Cullen, University of Newcastle; Celine van Golde, University of Sydney

One in three wrongfully convicted women were convicted of crimes that involved harming children. Once pardoned or exonerated, they experienced significant psychological and practical challenges.

Farming in South Africa is being hobbled by power cuts and poor roads. Rural towns are being hit hardest

Wandile Sihlobo, Stellenbosch University

South Africa’s agriculture could do even better but is held back by power cuts and poor infrastructure

Ethiopia’s musicians fled the country after the 1974 revolution - how their culture lives on

Kay Kaufman Shelemay, Harvard University

Musicians established themselves in the US, where they continued to practice their cultural life, which flourished.

How Chinese superfans became a force of nationalist activism in the name of their ‘idols’

Yan Wang, Lancaster University

In social media posts during the pandemic, fans posit their idols as loyal to the nation, the people and the party state.

Retirement reinvented: how to find fulfilment later in life

Tania Wiseman, Swansea University

Unlocking the full potential of retirement: embracing fun, connections and new experiences.

How hip-hop learned to call out homophobia – or at least apologize for it

Matthew Oware, University of Richmond

Greater representation in rap from LGBTQ artists comes as mainstream artists atone for past lyrics.

Several Down syndrome features may be linked to a hyperactive antiviral immune response – new research

Joaquin Espinosa, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

People with Down syndrome have an extra chromosome 21. Understanding the effects of those triplicated genes could help improve the health of those with Down syndrome and other medical conditions.