The week in detail: earthquakes, shelters and recession

Podcast: The Detail

every weekday, The detail makes sense of the big news. On this week’s podcast we look at the earthquake early warning systems and what’s keeping Aotearoa from tuning in, the local residents making a fuss about Rotorua’s shelters, do we really need to plan for a recession, and we meet again with Kriddles Roberts, the woman who changed the face of the Rotary Club of Waitākere two years ago.

Whakarongo mai on any episodes you may have missed. Find out how to listen and subscribe here.

The warning you might get before the next big quake

Unlike other earthquake-prone countries and regions around the world, New Zealand does not have an early warning system for earthquakes.

Japan, Taiwan, California and Mexico City all have them, and while each system works differently, they give people precious seconds of warning before they arrive.

That’s enough time for organizations to do things like turn off dangerous equipment, slow down bullet trains, or pause hospital operations.

Wellington-based seismologist Caroline Holden is leading a team of researchers studying how an earthquake early warning system might work in New Zealand – and says the biggest hurdle to setting up a system here is the multimillion-dollar price tag.

Rotorua’s emergency shelter problem

Fenton Street used to be Rotorua’s Golden Mile. Today, locals call this stretch of road the “MSD Mile” for the dozens of motels that house hundreds of homeless people.

The government bought the Boulevard Motel in Rotorua in 2016 for US$7.<a class=1 million as part of a development in Kāinga Ora.” data-guid=”35f15a98-9d55-41f9-81fd-5cd0921cadd2″ data-src=”,dpr_auto,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto,w_750/vgzpgd9dnge2ddvicn95″ style=”max-width: 100% !important;”/>
The government bought the Boulevard Motel in Rotorua in 2016 for US$7.1 million as part of a development in Kāinga Ora. Photo: Sharon Brettkelly.

“It became a kind of cash cow for the moteliers,” says Kelly Makiha, a senior journalist at the Rotorua Daily Post.

“Word spread quickly that you can come to Rotorua and pick up a motel if you’re in need.

“Some of these motels make millions a year.”

But locals are heartbroken, says Makiha: They’re too scared to drive down the street at night when people are openly dealing drugs; Cars are broken into, tipped onto their roofs and set on fire; Neighbors’ property is destroyed and people are mistreated.

Trevor Newbrook from Restore Rotorua, a group pushing to revitalize the city’s reputation as a premium tourist destination, is taking part The detail on a drive down Fenton Street.

Should we fear another recession?

Is New Zealand, as ACT CEO David Seymour put it, “halfway into a recession”?

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone.

The latest GDP figures released last week showed New Zealand’s economy contracted 0.2 percent in the three months to March.

As economist and partner at Sense Partners Shamubeel Eaqub explains, the technical definition of a recession is the economy going backwards for six months.

“Or there’s a more practical definition, which is when people are so scared of doing things that they don’t hire, don’t invest, and don’t spend.

RNZ business editor Gyles Beckford tells The detail Most economists don’t expect a recession – but even if they do, we shouldn’t ring the alarm bells so early.

Kriddles Roberts: Strengthening the West Auckland Community

On a chilly Saturday morning in a large shed at Corbans Art Center in west Auckland, people are sorting through piles of used clothing and blankets, the BBQ is lit for a bratwurst and children are playing on a bouncy castle.

Kriddles Roberts.
Kriddles Roberts. Photo: Delivered.

It looks like a typical Kiwi fundraiser, except everything from the food to the brand new kids’ backpacks and toys is free. It is given to people in need in the community.

Behind it are Kriddles Roberts and their charity Unity In Our Community. The detail spoke to Roberts two years ago when she became the new president of the Rotary Club of Waitākere, the face of change and diversity in the organization.

Robert’s mentor, Rotary leader Elaine Mead, calls them a breath of fresh air and says that Rotary was “not just a bunch of pale, stale, purely business people.” The organization was founded in 1905 with the aim of giving back to the community, and with members like Kriddles it’s going back to its roots.

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