GUEST BLOG: Neil Watts – Why won’t the Herald talk about Chinese trade wars and substandard steel?



Can you hear that?

It is the sound of an enormous elephant in the New Zealand Herald’s newsroom.  It has been there for weeks, possibly months, but no one at the Herald will acknowledge it.

It is an elephant made of steel.  Chinese steel. Chinese steel like the steel in the Waterview Connection, the Huntly Bypass, and many other major infrastructure projects.  It is steel that has been consistently tested well below New Zealand safety standards.  It is cheap steel, dumped on the world market by China, and bought in bulk by John Key’s Government, at the expense of local industry and jobs.  But the New Zealand Herald aren’t talking about it.

Each passing day, the elephant grows and grows. And each day, The New Zealand Herald have to work harder and harder to avoid its presence.

But doesn’t it seem bizarre that an Auckland based newspaper and its associated website are not just missing, but actively avoiding, a story that every other mainstream news organisation are now reporting on?  

Stranger still, when we consider the newsworthiness of the story within the Auckland region, and the New Zealand Herald’s core readership.  This is the sort of explosive news that newspapers crave, isn’t it?  A high profile developing story with enormous social, economic and safety implications.  It has it all; scandal, high level intrigue, a Government implicated in mismanagement, market retaliation and a looming trade war with our largest exporter.  It even has a topical local and regional angle. It is precisely the sort of news that sells newspapers. Yet, the New Zealand Herald continue to avoid it.

As I noted in a piece here just last week, any “reporting” the New Zealand Herald have published on the trade threats from China, and the subsequent halting of New Zealand Kiwifruit exports to China, have been no more informative than the National Party press statements they heavily resemble.    In fact, it now seems that with the rapid escalation of this story, the New Zealand Herald have dug themselves a hole out of wilful naivety, and been forced to contort their coverage around their own obtuse denial in regards to the substandard steel.  

TDB Recommends

So predictable have the New Zealand Herald become on this issue, that just this morning – after John Key was questioned about the steel, the trade threats and the halted kiwifruit on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report – I predicted on the Fearfacts Exposed Facebook page  that we could now expect a summary of Key’s evasive spin free from context, analysis, implications or Opposition comment, from the New Zealand Herald.  It led the political “news” on their website within the hour, with John Key effectively writing the headline, the intro, and in fact the rest of the story.

So, who are the New Zealand Herald protecting here? The New Zealand Government? The Chinese Government? Both Governments?

Whoever they are working for, it’s perfectly clear they have abdicated any responsibility to the long suffering New Zealanders who read their publication.

Ironically, it is perhaps their rivals at Fairfax who best summed up the reason the New Zealand Herald won’t talk about the elephant in their newsroom, with a single Sunday Star Times headline – “Steel debacle a gift to Labour”.   

The New Zealand Herald – where balanced journalism goes to die.


Neil Watts is TDB’s news critic


  1. I was interviewed on the phone from Colmar Brunton the other day,about the chinese immigrant issue-as an example of the latest suspicious activity in that area I told the cheap steel story…the woman interviewing me had not heard of it…she was genuinely surprised.I ask you….

    • Yes, and the woman interviewing you was probably paid at a miserable rate, below what we call the ‘living wage’. Given that she was so unaware, I doubt if she was an enterprising student earning some spare cash to help her make her miserable way through what we used to call ‘higher education’. The poor devil is probably restricted to never earning enough to make ends meet under our current morally bankrupt system.
      Spare her a charitable thought. I know you were not being critical of her, but rather the news media. Me too.

  2. Excellent review of the Herald’s non-involvement in this story, Neil. Like you, I find it staggering that the largest (?) paper in the country is studiously looking the ‘Other Way’, so their gaze is averted from a Giant Steel Elephant in the room…

    You sum it up nicely (if not tragically);

    The New Zealand Herald – where balanced journalism goes to die.

  3. One only has to search the editors name,and thence the corporate ownership structure of the herald,to confirm what most people in nz can already tell from the usa based dross published on their pages exactly who their masters are.

  4. I think there’s more to this Chinese steel story than just that the steel is allegedly substandard. Did it really test below acceptable? No one in the National Party is disposed to telling the truth and when they speak more often than not it’s out of the corner of the mouth. The BRICS now control the financial world and make up the majority of the commercial world. New Zealand is still being strangled by a dog collar and on the end of the lead is the visibly dying Cabal. NZ Herald like the majority of our media outlets is still Cabal owned and as such will never take a lead … except when it is fed a story to make it appear as if they are taking the lead. It’s all smoke and mirrors. What you see, hear and read is not what it is.
    I’m not suggesting that Benjamin Fulford is the wisest or best source of info, but in this one, I believe he hits the nail where it matters for NZ:

Comments are closed.