GUEST BLOG: Gerard Otto – Media prejudice in evidence over time


Is the word “handout” reserved for the Provincial Growth Fund, Maori and Beneficiaries by the NZ Herald, Newstalk ZB and Mike Hosking?

On 4th December 2018 the Government approved additional funding of $22.5 million for additional infrastructure for the America’s Cup.

This brought the total investment ( handout ) to $136.5 Million, so the 2021 regatta could be held around Auckland’s waterfront.

At the time Mike Hosking did not question the return from these millions of dollars and he certainly never wrote the following words about that money :

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“The real test is where it went and what sort of return you got from it.”

There was no editorial in the NZ Herald blazing a headline saying that “Handouts are no substitute for Private Sector investment in the Americas Cup”.

A benefit-cost ratio of just around 1 is not a sufficient basis for committing taxpayer’s money to this event…but we did it anyway.

There was no reminder from the NZ Herald editorial at the time – that seedlings had been mulched in other government investments and therefore we should be dubious about pouring money into the Americas cup.

In fact we are prepared to make a loss – and talk about downstream intangible benefits with a wave of the hand.

Whilst you can find the word “handout” sprinkled throughout Mike Hosking’s articles that mention the Provincial Growth Fund and you can find the word associated with beneficiaries and Maori land development – you cannot find the word “handout” in his writing about sporting investments, Saudi Sheep deals, Novopay et al.

A notable but single contradiction to the pattern can be found by going back to August 2018 to find the word “Handout” in a NZ Herald headline.

This time because NZRugby were toying with asking the government for more money to prevent star All Blacks from being poached by other nations.

Notably NZR never formally asked for the money and our PM Ardern commented that government invests already in grass roots rugby anyway – money which has never been termed a handout in published articles by the NZ Herald or Newstalk ZB.

No that’s not a handout.

New Zealand spent more than $1.2 billion on investments backing the 2011 Rugby World Cup – but the tournament made only $700 million in direct economic returns.

Plus New Zealand knew there would be a big loss before they spent that money but the term “handout” in mainstream media was not used and losses were downplayed.

Rugby New Zealand 2011 announced a loss of $31.3 million and nobody cried about the handouts made – in fact they celebrated that the loss was 20% less than they predicted.

Mike Hoksing did not write that proof was required that we’d make a return back then but he is today about investing in Maori land development.

ACC is a government entity and is primarily funded through a combination of levies and government contributions. It recently signed up and contributed millions to Rocket labs.

A NZ Herald article dated 30 November 2015 written by Grant Bradley reported RocketLabs received up to $25 million of government funding over five years.

Nobody wrote that this was a handout in the New Zealand Herald.

Nobody at Newstalk ZB called it a handout in any headline nor article.

Yet today the editorial headline in the NZ Herald screamed about handouts up North to develop Maori land.

Which poses the question – why does Mike Hoksing and the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB exhibit this distinct difference in choice of words and attitudes towards the poor and towards Maori?

Why indeed?

Surely Taiki Waititi can’t have been correct?

Surely it’s not because they are a bunch of racist Maori bashing haters who are in denial about their own prejudice?

Surely there must be some other more palatable excuse for this undeniable evidence that we should all expect a great deal more consistency in the choice of words used from these media businesses?

Whatever that excuse is – I’m not buying it.


Gerard Otto is an activist and writer 


  1. “This brought the total investment ( handout ) to $136.5 Million, so the 2021 regatta could be held around Auckland’s waterfront.”

    Is this really true? This amount of our taxes to pay for very wealthy blokes to mess around in boats?! Surely, this cannot be. Our politicians could not possibly be that profligate on the one hand, and so miserly on the other.

    I demand a retraction. Or, a correction: the decimal point in the wrong place?

  2. On a related subject, I saw an article in likening the provincial growth fund to pork barrell politics.
    They apparently didn’t notice the pork flavour surrounding the previous government’s roads of “National” significance.

  3. I wonder what Hosking said about the $30 million handout by the Nats to the Rio Tinto aluminium smelter at Tiwai Point? Fucken deafly silent, I bet!! Sanctimonious hypocrite that he is.

    He’s not worthy of me spitting on his shadow

  4. Nice stuff Otto, your articles are damn good and right on the money! But what can you do? These parasites are everywhere and infection is deep.
    Mr Hoskins is a jonkey clone to a tea? I’d cross a 6 lane highway to plant a dockers oyster on either of them, dickheads.

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