Free speech is under attack — again.

This time it is the highly-regarded scientist, inventor, social entrepreneur and apparently all-round good guy Sir Ray Avery who is seeking a gagging order.

An odd move for someone whom one would have expected to welcome robust debate.

He is unhappy about stories on the news site Newsroom which cast him in a less than glowing light.


The stories involve the non-delivery of his incubators for newborns, known as LifePods, to Pacific nations as promised — a scheme which attracted considerable donations.

Things have turned a bit sour, with former PM Helen Clark among his critics.

Still, we all have things which don't work out as planned, and if that prompts negative publicity, well that's the price you pay, particularly if you are a voluble public figure seeking philanthropic handouts.

But Avery — a former New Zealander of the Year — doesn't quite see it that way. Critical stories about him must be removed. He says they contain false information.

Okay, if he is being defamed, he has a course of redress and should consult a lawyer.

But, instead, he is claiming "serious emotional distress" and, rather than go to court, he has gone to Netsafe, New Zealand's cyber-bullying watchdog.

His complaint comes under the Harmful Digital Communications Act — news reporting on a site amounts to digital harm in the way that racist rants or intimate photos on social media do.

So if Jacinda Ardern is feeling distress about reports that Winston Peters is pulling the strings or Simon Bridges is upset that articles suggest he is a dead man walking, they should head straight to Netsafe's complaints desk.


The good news is that Prince Harry and his missus, Meghan, are coming to New Zealand; the bad news is they will not be visiting Whanganui.

It was, perhaps, expecting too much to have Harry back after his brief, but lovely visit here in 2015. Still, a shame for us ... and a shame for them.

The Duke of Sussex could have repeated his waka trip on the Whanganui River, while the duchess took the Waimarie; they could have checked out Queen's Park and its new name, Pukenamu; and visited Prince Edward's auditorium at Collegiate.

And while Harry indulged his military interests with a beer at the new-look RSA, his other half would have enjoyed retail therapy along the Avenue named after his great, great, great, great-grandmother.

Oh well ... maybe next time.