Welcome to The Kākā

Where we reveal the political economy together

Kia ora koutou and welcome to The Kākā.

This is my personal email newsletter and blog for supporters, colleagues, clients and fellow tragics of Aotearoa’s political economy. I’ll be using it as a sort of sounding board, a journal of record and repository of my reporting, commentary, thinkings-aloud and preparation for the various bits and pieces of work I do around New Zealand. I’m a freelance writer, speaker, presenter and MC now for various publishers, conferences and organisations. Contact me at bernard@thekaka.co.nz or +64 27 8660011 if you have a gig for me.

This blog and email newsletter is currently free to all, but is likely to be mostly paywalled for paying subscribers and other clients from September 21, 2021. There’ll still be a cut-down weekly version free, but the rest will be for paying supporters and other clients and colleagues, but only in a year’s time. That’s when my restraint of trade agreement with my previous employer, Newsroom NZ Ltd, runs out.

I’m still a shareholder in Newsroom and wish Tim Murphy, Mark Jennings and the team all the best. I just decided to take a break from the rigours of start-up life (and cash-flow) after 12 years of trying to build scalable and sustainable models for journalism online (Interest.co.nz, HiveNews.co.nz and Newsroom.co.nz) without as much success as I’d like. It’s a tough time to build that sort of thing in an industry and a society (here) that’s still feeling its way towards a solution. This blog and newsletter is not another attempt to solve that problem. It’s a place to base my other work and build up a body of work that supporters might find useful.

I’ve been working independently as a freelance writer and speaker since September 21, but am keen to again slowly build up a regular resource for a group of subscribers, supporters, clients and colleagues in the form of this blog and regular email, including a daily one that will be for subscribers in about a year’s time. I hope to chat daily with this community in the comments and through webinars. I’ll also promote these posts through my LinkedIn and Twitter pages.


‘See-through’ journalism and debate

The aim is to create a sustainable community that is fossicking through the undergrowth of New Zealand public life to get under the bark of what’s happening inside Government, the economy and business. I want to do all this with and for subscribers, clients and supporters (after September 21, 2021), and in plain sight. Think of it as a bit like looking through the glass walls and into the engine room of our political economy in a more direct and accountable way. Or like looking over my shoulder at my notepad through the day. Subscribers will see things in real time and watch and participate as an accurate picture of Aotearoa’s public political and economic life is built up layer by layer.

It’s where you’ll see the bare bones, the discarded trimmings and the slightly gory insides of the finished work you might or might not see elsewhere. It’s also a chance for me to bounce ideas off people and work in plain sight. You’ll get a regular sense of what I’m interested in, what’s happening around the bureaucracies, the Beehive and the head offices in Auckland, Wellington and elsewhere. You’ll get a chance to challenge my views, the facts I’m using, and to introduce your own view and facts in the comments, and through questions via webinars. You’ll see the raw data, the charts, the interviews and the announcements behind my reporting, along with links to public sources, transcripts, audio and video.

My aim is to build trust and community and a repository of useful stuff and understanding — along with earning myself a sustainable independent living. :) Who knows: it might turn into something bigger, but that’s not my expectation or plan at the moment.

But be warned, sometimes it won’t be pretty. There’ll be typos. Sometimes I’ll get my tenses wrong and on occasion I’ll jump to the wrong conclusion when I take the first bite at some announcement or issue. Feel free to jump into the comments and tell me what’s wrong and needs correcting. It’s a joint exercise. However, sometimes I won’t be able to say exactly where I got information from to protect my sources and to avoid breaching any suppression orders or laws of the land.

Sometimes the debate might get a bit feisty, but never mean or gratuitous or ranty. The aim is to inform, to understand and on occasion to entertain. I want people to feel welcome and respected and enlightened, not dirty or tired or pointless. Only paying subscribers will be able to comment after September 21, 2021. I won’t allow this to turn into another one of those hyper-partisan blogs or social media feeds. I’ll block comments from people who want to turn it into just another toxic wasteland. Volume of comments or subscribers don’t matter to me. I want to do something constructive and useful and human.

Here’s more detail in a Q&A style, and I welcome comments from subscribers to the currently-free email I’ll produce most days. Comments will only be available to subscribers, clients and colleagues after September 21, 2021.



How am I making a living until September 21, 2021?

I currently write a weekly feature for the money and business sections of Stuff’s Saturday papers, including the Dominion Post, the Waikato Times and The Press, along with one usually weekly commentary for Stuff’s business section. It’s sort of ‘Back to the Future’ for me because a long time ago (2003-8) I worked as the Business Editor of the Dominion Post and its business publications, along with being Fairfax’s Head of Digital for a while.

I’m also helping Pattrick Smellie produce his fortnightly HugoVision PDF and am doing some remote online contract research work for a New York-based corporate research firm called Blue Heron. I do a quarterly presentation for the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and host the CFO Symposium conferences annually in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch. I do occasional presentations for other conferences and corporate offsites for a fee. I write a quarterly column for AA Directions. I occasionally write for Juno too.

Why is it called The Kākā?

I love Kākās is the short answer. I live in Wellington at the Brooklyn and Aro Valley end of the city. That is about 1km as the Kākā flies from the Zealandia Ecosanctuary and over the last decade this still very rare native bird has spilled over from their safe place into the bush around this part of Wellington.

They swoop around and chatter and screech and they’re just wonderful. I often go for run-walks and bike rides into the hills around Brooklyn and Aro Valley and always come across one or two. It is often the highlight of my day.

If I’m really quiet I will find one stripping the bark off a macrocarpa tree to try to find the best bugs and grubs.

That’s how I see this site. A rare bird swooping down from the hills above Wellington to find something juicy and then having a good chatter or even a screech about it.

Kia Kite ano


PS: This photo is from Zealandia’s Instagram account and I heartily recommend a visit or the purchase of an annual membership. I would love to republish any pictures of Kākā you have that are rights free, or you’re just feeling in a good mood.

Leave a comment