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AIR New Zealand: Surprises from a Predictable Election

In a year punctuated by dramatic highs (the All Blacks finally winning the Rugby World Cup) and heartbreaking lows (the Christchurch earthquakes, the aftermath of the Pike River mining disaster), New Zealand's general election seemed to creep up and take many Kiwis by surprise. The lowest voter turnout since 1887 and the long-predicted, largely unsurprising election outcome combined to create something of a feeling that the entire event was merely an exercise in checking off a necessary democratic box.

AIR New Zealand: Suspicious minds

Question: Do the following characteristics/actions/behaviours seem suspicious?

Having (and carrying) more than one passport while travelling. Wanting to contact your family and friends in any way possible after being caught up in a natural disaster. Leaving a country (to go home to your family) as soon as possible after being caught up in a natural disaster. Being a citizen of a country whose government representatives check up on its citizens if they are in a foreign country when a disaster occurs. Being a citizen of a country whose government offers a range of assistance to another country after a disaster has occurred.

Answer: Yes, apparently, they do in New Zealand.

AIR New Zealand: Unity leads to Shechita victory

Communal unity often comes about as a result of a polarising issue, a scandal or a tragedy. For the New Zealand Jewish community, such unity has been evident this year due to the issue of shechita (traditional kosher slaughtering practices) - and the fight against the government’s attempt to ban it.

AIR New Zealand: Turning Green?

Following the success of the Greens in the recent Australian federal election, it seems timely to review the experience with New Zealand's Green Party over recent years and especially its stance towards Israel and the Jewish community.

AIR New Zealand: A Tzur Thing

When Israel reopened an embassy in Wellington in April this year, it seemed obvious that the new Ambassador, Shemi Tzur, and his staff had a big job in front of them. Almost a decade without on-the-ground representation, as well as some years of troubled diplomatic relations between Israel and New Zealand, meant that Kiwi perceptions of Israel had, in many ways, been quite badly damaged.

AIR New Zealand: Kiwis in Turtle Bay

In several columns last year I wrote that the diplomatic relationship between New Zealand and Israel appeared to be improving - due to the new more Israel-friendly National-led government and the imminent reopening of an Israeli Embassy in Wellington.

AIR New Zealand: UN-Focused

When the report on the United Nations inquiry into the most recent Israel-Gaza conflict was released, I immediately thought that it would be interesting to observe what type of comment it generated in New Zealand. Although Kiwis often have little time for the United Nations, the conflict itself had generated a lot of attention and heat.

AIR New Zealand: Durban Dissent

Ever since I heard that a "Durban II" conference on racism was going to be held, I've watched with interest to see whether New Zealand would be involved and what sort of public dialogue might occur about our stance.

AIR New Zealand: The battlelines of summer

In the public sphere, regular anti-Israel protests and demonstrations took place around the country. At one such protest in Wellington, Catholic priest Gerard Burn sprinkled red paint mixed with a drop of his own blood, on a memorial monument to Yitzhak Rabin.

AIR New Zealand: Keyed Up In Wellington

Given the consistency of the pre-election polls, the results of the New Zealand election on Nov. 8 would have come as a shock to few Kiwis - John Key's National party handily defeated the Labour party, led by Helen Clark, the prime minister for the past (almost) 9 years.