The NZ Herald’s podcast network digs into some of the biggest stories in the country. Here’s a rundown of what was covered this week. We look into how we could be treating heart health better, Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau’s alcohol admission, whether Winston Peters will make a good Foreign Affairs Minister, how the Tangiwai disaster will be remembered, and the struggles of the sandwich generation.
There is a growing collection of harrowing stories of New Zealanders who have faced incredibly long waits to receive assistance from the country’s over-burdened health sector.
NZ Herald investigative reporter Nicholas Jones has been looking into this space and he’s found that there could be as many as 10,000 people dying every year from cardiovascular diseases.
What makes that even more tragic is that many of those deaths could be avoided entirely.
“New Zealand doesn’t really fund good heart failure drugs at the moment. There’s funding available for some diabetics who are at risk of heart failure, but the foundation and the society say that every New Zealander with heart failure should be getting these drugs,” Jones told The Front Page podcast.
“That will help them live longer, better, keep them out of hospital and reduce the burden on hospitals.”
So will the change in Government make any difference to the long-running problem?
Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau recently admitted that she has a drinking problem.
It came after a second incident, during which Whanau was apparently visibly intoxicated in public.
NZ Herald senior journalist Georgina Campbell told The Front Page that this incident has sparked a mixed response from the council, with some calling for Whanau’s head and others rallying in support.
“Labour councillor Rebecca Mathews, for example, has said the mayor is in a stressful job where there is huge scrutiny, and anyone doing it would have to face whatever demons they had,” Campbell said.
“Matthews said Whanau’s honesty about her own demons is groundbreaking and believes Whanau will have the support to keep doing a great job as mayor while addressing her problems with alcohol.”
But will this support be enough to ensure she can stay in her job?
Reflecting on disaster
In the latest installment of Tangiwai: A Forgotten History, host Hamish Williams reflects on the lessons learned from the tragedy that unfolded 70 years ago.
Included in this episode is a look at the findings of the commission of inquiry into the disaster, which sought to determine whether anything could have been avoided.
Williams also tells the story of John Mahy, who was then 15, and his 17-year-old sister, both of whom had mistakenly taken seats in a second-class carriage near the front of the express train from Wellington to Auckland.
They were in fact meant to be in first class at the back of the train.
“When the conductor came around he asked us why we were seated in the wrong carriage,” Mahy said. “We weren’t going to move but then we thought we may as well finish the rest of the journey in style so why not?”
That decision would ultimately save both of their lives.
Winston Peters has found himself in the role of Foreign Affairs Minister for the third time in his storied career. But his recent comments on the media have led to questions about whether he’s the right man for the job, given the complexity the role demands in the current geo-political environment.
Despite the reservations that some might have about Peters, NZ Herald head of business Fran O’Sullivan told The Front Page that the Peters we see locally isn’t the same as the one operating behind the scenes on the international stage.
“Compared to the somewhat chaotic and antagonistic approach he takes in New Zealand to domestic politics, he’s a born diplomat,” says O’Sullivan.
This much was evident last time Peters held the role.
“Offshore, particularly in dealing with the United States, he did a number of things. He helped to bring the United States to the Pacific. He pursued a Pacific reset and argued successfully to increase the budget for the Ministry of Affairs and Trade, resulting in an expansion of the ministry’s footprint worldwide.”
That might be true, but with conflict raging around the world and trade wars brewing, Peters will still face a tough challenge over the next three years.
Stuck in the middle
There’s a generation of people stuck in the middle – and you likely know them.
Dubbed the sandwich generation, these individuals are typically parents in their 40s or 50s, looking after teenage or university-level children, while also caring for their ageing parents.
This leaves them sandwiched as a caregiver to two generations at the same time.
This original definition is slowly becoming out of date. Decades of developments in healthcare have seen people live and work longer, while many new parents are choosing to go back to work earlier - or can’t afford to stay on paternity leave in the face of rising costs.
It has seen more and more parents in their 60s finding themselves in a “club sandwich” situation - looking after older parents, adult children, and their grandchildren all at the same time. Newstalk ZB afternoon newsreader Raylene Ramsay has found herself in that position.
“I’ve got a parent in their nineties, I’m in my sixties and then the grownups, my daughters, plus the grandchild,” Ramsay said in a conversation that covers the challenges of being caught between two tough jobs.