December 10, 2023

The Week in Detail: Gang towns, Prighozin, and single-use plastics

The Week in Detail: Gang towns, Prighozin, and single-use plastics

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

This week, we looked at two very different gang towns, the businesses living in uncertainty around the future of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts, the weekend of chaos that unfolded in Russia, New Zealand’s next phase of the single-use plastic ban, and the workplace carcinogens putting workers at risk.

Whakarongo mai to any episodes you might have missed.


A tale of two gang towns

Ōpōtiki in the North Island; Timaru in the South. 

When it comes to gangs, they have something in common. 

But they also have nothing in common. 

Alexia Russell looks at the contrasting ways they’ve handled, and are managing, situations involving gangs – in Timaru’s case, imports sweeping in trying to establish a methamphetamine trade; in Ōpōtiki’s, a deeply ingrained sector of local residents who are, in one expert’s words, experiencing “a tsunami” of change. 


Life under the shadow of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts

Robbie Forbes’ Ski Biz shop in National Park is packed with the latest ski gear, ready for the winter tourists to flock in and hire and buy before they head up Ruapehu.

But the Whakapapa ski field needs more snow and, more importantly, a new owner, after Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) was liquidated last week.

“Everything you see, we own. It’s all arriving and going nowhere,” says Forbes.

While the Government has committed $5 million to RAL’s liquidators to keep the skifield open this season, the business’ long-term future is still unsure.

Sharon Brettkelly is on the ground at National Park.


What just happened in Russia?

Winston Churchill famously described Russia as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”.

His words from 1939 still appear to be valid, especially after the extraordinary events of the past few days which have left Westerners and Russians alike baffled. 

Was the weekend of chaos a failed coup, or did the man once known as ‘Putin’s Chef’ just snap, condemning himself to exile? 

More importantly, is Russian President Vladimir Putin losing his grip on power – and will this help Ukraine win the war? 

Alexia Russell speaks to Canterbury University associate professor of Russian history, Dr Evgeny Pavlov.


Kicking the single-use plastic habit

Want to drink your glass of Coke with a plastic straw or eat your takeaways with a plastic fork?

You’ll be out of luck when from July 1, when these and other items are banned as part of the ongoing phasing out of single-use plastic items.

Tom Kitchin digs into the plan and finds out that New Zealand is in “catch-up mode” compared to the rest of the world, with other countries making leaps and bounds in the fight against waste.


The cancer-causing dangers in our workplaces

Auckland-based plasterer Darrin McLay is pretty blunt when it comes to the risks of working with potentially harmful dust every day.

“Some time in the next 20-odd years it will probably kill me, and I expect that. This is my 41st year of plastering, so I’ve been doing it a long time. It’s a hazard of the job unfortunately,” he tells Tom Kitchin.

And he’s not the only one. The first New Zealand Carcinogens Survey, commissioned by WorkSafe, found more than half of workers in the sample were exposed to at least one cancer-causing agent.

We know the risks, so what action can we take?


Long Read: Guilt, Part I: Murder in Paeroa

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

This week, it’s ‘Guilt, Part I: Murder in Paeroa’, published in the July issue of North & South magazine, and written and read aloud here by Ryan Wolf.

You can read an excerpt of the story here, or get the full version, including photos by Luke Harvey, in July’s issue of North & South.

Speculation still swirls about the unsolved 2012 murder of pizza-shop owner Jordan Voudouris, a mystery that prompted Ryan Wolf to launch his own investigation, reported in his podcast, GUILT. In the first of three pieces on the case for North & South, Wolf describes his initial inquiries, and the surprises they revealed.


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