The Week in Detail: Cyclone, Census, China

From The Detail, 6:00 am on 18 February 2023

Every weekday, The Detail makes sense of the big news stories.

This week, we looked at the mission to regulate vaping products, what that made Cyclone Gabrielle so uniquely destructive, the minor political parties' chances in the upcoming general election, the high hopes around a new and better Census 2023, and what it's like in China at end of its 'zero Covid' policy.

Plus, a new edition of our Long Read.

Whakarongo mai to any episodes you might have missed.

Youth vaping: New regulations too little too late?

New regulations for vape retailers requiring strict record-keeping came into play at the beginning of this year, and more red tape is likely on the way with proposals for marketing and locations restrictions being floated in Wellington.

A teenager smokes an e-cigarette.

Photo: Unsplash

But has the horse bolted when it comes to youth vaping?

Matthew Scott talks to Stuff senior health reporter Rachel Thomas and University of Auckland researcher Dr Kelly Burrowes.

Cyclone Gabrielle: What makes this storm so unique?

Cyclone Gabrielle and other recent severe weather events have turned many of us into armchair meteorologists, obsessively tracking the vibrantly coloured swirls of the storms looming over Aotearoa.

Orewa Beach during Cyclone Gabrielle

Photo: RNZ / Nick Monro

And with that, new weather words have popped into our lexicon - such as "inverted barometer", "vorticity" and "sting jet".

Sharon Brettkelly breaks it down with NIWA meteorologist Ben Noll.

Minor parties: Will they have a major impact?

Labour's sweeping win at the last election gave it the ability to govern alone, but under MMP, parties normally have to share power. At this year's election, the minor parties look set to regain their relevance. 

A composite image containing four separate photos of the leaders of four separate minor parties, all taken while the leaders are answering questions from media: from left going clockwise, David Seymour from ACT, Marama Davidson and James Shaw from the Greens, Winston Peters from New Zealand First, and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi from Te Paati Māori.

Minor parties could hold the balance of power at this year's general election. Photo: Samuel Rillstone, Angus Dreaver

Sarah Robson sits down with Newsroom's political editor Jo Moir and RNZ's deputy political Craig McCulloch to size up ACT, the Greens, Te Pāti Māori, New Zealand First, TOP, and more.

Census 2023: Getting the count right

The official count of the population is happening in just a few weeks.

A Census 2023 letter being removed from a letterbox.

Photo: 2023 Census, Stats NZ

And after the disaster of the Census 2018, there's hope this one will be much better.

The Census is crucial not just for knowing how many people there are in the country - it also helps government, central and local, plan things like healthcare services, areas for housing development and public transport routes.

Tom Kitchin talks to Newsroom journalist David Williams and Waikato University Professor of Demography Tahu Kukutai.

China after the end of 'zero Covid'

It's only been four years since Chen Liu was in China, but she could barely recognise parts of her hometown when she returned a few weeks ago.

Chen Liu standing on the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China. It is a clear, cold day.

Chen Liu on the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China. Photo: Supplied/Chen Liu

Journalist Chen is one of millions of expat Chinese who are finally back home after years of strict Covid-19 lockdowns. She's seen some stark changes, from the ultra fast highspeed trains to the boom in new apartments and digital-only payments, right down to the little tea shop.

But there's one thing no one wants to talk about: Covid-19 and the government's handling of it. People are focused on the future and making their fortunes, says Chen, who has lived in New Zealand for seven years.

She talks to Sharon Brettkelly.

The Detail's Long Read: On Fiordland

This is The Detail's Long Read - one in-depth story read by us every weekend.

A tourist sightseeing ferry boat travels down the calm, deep blue waters of Milford Sound in the remote Fiordland region in the south west of the South Island of New Zealand

Photo: 123RF

This week, it's two stories.

A Fiord-less National Park written by Heidi Bendikson and published on

Fiordland National Park is the crowning jewel of our national parks and arguably our greatest tourist magnet. But conservationists warn that marine life has been put at risk because the park’s waters are unprotected.

Cruising For A Bruising: $$$s v Nature in Milford Sound written by Vaneesa Bellew and published on

As international cruise ships once again ply our waters, there’s renewed debate about whether they belong in one of New Zealand’s – and the world’s – most precious places

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