21 May 2022

The week in Detail: Volcanoes, elections, shipping and apples

From The Detail, 3:00 pm on 21 May 2022

Every weekday, The Detail makes sense of the big news stories. This week on the podcast, we’ve covered what made the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano so explosive, why pulling products out of Russia isn’t as easy as it seems, and New Zealand’s role in Timor Leste gaining independence. 

Whakarongo mai to any episodes you might have missed. 

What we know about the Tonga eruption, four months on 

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano eruption in January devastated the Tongan community, with tsunamis and shock waves felt thousands of kilometres across the globe. Four months on, the scientific community is still figuring out what happened. 

A grab taken from footage by Japan's Himawari-8 satellite and released by the National Institute of Information and Communications (Japan) on January 15, 2022 shows the volcanic eruption that provoked a tsunami in Tonga.

Satellite imagery of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano erupting. Photo: AFP / National Institute of Information and Communications

University of Auckland volcanologist Shane Cronin has studied the volcano for years and says the scale of the eruption was so supercharged, it led scientists to question what they thought they knew about its structure. 

Travelling to Tonga to investigate, Cronin discovered the volcano's caldera – the depression formed when a volcano erupts and collapses – was hundreds of metres deeper than expected. 

"What's happening is because there's magma erupting out the top, the shallow part of the volcano starts to collapse in on itself … this fracturing allows the seawater to get in,” he says. 

"We've got the perfect conditions for our very large explosion." 

Australian election: Is Scott Morrison's time up? 

It’s election day across the Tasman and Australians are trudging to the polling booths to cast their votes in this year's federal election, one that’s being tipped to spell the end for Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Coalition's nine years in power, and the ascendance of Labor and its leader Anthony Albanese

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison pictured prior to a working diner with French Presiden at the Elysee Palace in Paris on 15 June 2021.

Incumbent Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: AFP

But New Zealand ex-pat and political scientist Ross Stitt says it’s not impossible for Morrison to stick it out. 

"There's no question that he is seen as untrustworthy, tricky, slick...but by the same token, when you see him campaign in person he seems to have more of a human touch than most of the recent Australian prime ministers have had," he says.  

"But there's too much against him. His lack of popularity, particularly with women; criticism from his own colleagues; the problems with the cost of living and inflation; if he would win this election it would be a remarkable turnaround." 

Stitt takes The Detail through the issues, the personalities, the Australian voting system, and the impact the election night result will have on New Zealand.  

Forgotten highway: Reviving a domestic coastal shipping service 

It’s a good time to be in shipping. Demand is sky-rocketing, charter rates are high, and international vessels are scrambling to keep up amidst pandemic-era supply chain chaos

Brodie Stevens, in a hard hat and his-vis vest, standing at Ports of Auckland in front of a large number of shipping containers

 Swire Shipping country manager Brodie Stevens at Ports of Auckland. Photo: The Detail/Sharon Brettkelly

So why do we only have one New Zealand-flagged ship sailing our domestic coastal route?  

Co-host Sharon Brettkelly joins Swire Shipping country manager Brodie Stevens on a tour of the Ports of Auckland to discuss the increasing calls to build New Zealand's domestic shipping fleet

The complexities of pulling products from Russia 

New Zealand has followed the lead of other Western nations in heaping billion dollar sanctions on Russia to decry its ongoing war in Ukraine. Global producers have fallen in line with boycotts, including Apple, McDonalds, and our own Fonterra

Apple generic. Generic bin of Hawke's Bay apples.

Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

The Detail's Sharon Brettkelly revealed this week that New Zealand's largest organic apple grower Bostock is still exporting its products to Russia. 

It's not illegal to sell food products to Russia, but the apple and pear industry has been backing off nonetheless; besides ethical concerns, there have been difficulties with shipping and processing payments with Russia due to international sanctions.  

One grower, Freshco, stopped its Russian exports in March, taking a voluntary hit. Freshco partner John Mangan tells The Detail about the decision. 

Twenty years on: New Zealand in Timor-Leste

Friday May 20th marked 20 years since Timor-Leste declared independence following decades of violent conflict under Indonesian rule. 

New Zealand played a significant role in establishing a stable democracy on the ground – but as former Minister for Foreign Affairs Phil Goff tells The Detail, our involvement was not always honourable. For years prior, both National and Labour governments failed to intervene to help the Timorese people. 

“The invasion and the killings - it was a bit like Ukraine really, but this time the West chose to turn a blind eye,” says Goff of that time.   

Major General (Rtd) Martyn Dunne recalls when New Zealand troops arrived in 1999 and the lasting bonds that were forged there. 

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