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Take a seat

Dogged by negative press lately, Air New Zealand must be hoping that journalists on its inaugural Shanghai flight will enjoy the experience.

There's some serious sucking up going on among hacks wanting one of the 313 free seats on Air New Zealand's inaugural flight to Shanghai on November 7. Apparently, TVNZ Close Up host Mark Sainsbury is one who's had his buttocks preparked on the nonstop 12-hour flight (yours for just $6690), which offers Mandarin-speaking flight attendants and Chinese-influenced cuisine. No doubt the airline will be hoping to see Sainsbury's freebie converted into a more positive story than that turned in by TV1's business correspondent earlier in the year. Hands were reportedly wrung at Air New Zealand after "Opo" (business reporter Owen Poland) painted a less than rosy picture of growth in NZ-Chinese markets. Such a pity that the state broadcaster closed its Asian bureau and no longer has Charlotte Glennie on staff reporting from that region. That would have saved the airline a bob or two. Imagine what's going to happen next year for the 50th anniversary of Scott Base when the hacks ice-pick one another in their scramble for a window seat next to the likes of Sir Ed on the way to Antarctica.

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When Sainsbury celebrated his half-century recently, Bill Ralston and Barry Soper were among the 200 thirsty hacks at Wellington's Boatshed. TVNZ Sydney correspondent Garth Bray flew over to party till a respectable, by journalists' standards, 4.00am. Bray has apparently ruffled TVNZ's older overseas male correspondents recently by braying that his reporting style heralds a new age in overseas correspondents.

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If you thought the carnage during the All Blacks 45-26 win against South Africa at Loftus Versfeld was heavy on the claret, go to bondedbyblood.co.nz to see our brave boys repeatedly "ouch" with pain as they donate blood for the purposes of making a commemorative poster. In a bloody video that would make Vincent Price faint, the ABs have their fingers pricked and veins tapped to drip blood into a communal bottle, which is whisked away to be sterilised, then used to make 8000 posters that contain the combined sacred DNA of the ABs. The poster depicts the lads deep in a forest doing a haka. Now a rival agency, Y&R of Wellington, has taken the piss out of the pretentious poster. Using the same setting, Y&R has inserted 15 intoxicated lads in mufti taking a leak with their backs to the camera. See for yourself on bondedbybeer.co.nz.

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Zara Potts, TVNZ's current affairs PR person, has finally tossed in the towel and bravely quit her job without having another to go to. Ralston managed to save her from the axe when her gig was on the line a few months back, but did so on the proviso that her duties were broadened to include the care and promotion of the network's stars. A few weeks of pandering to those special needs-ers would leave the most chipper spinster feeling like Roy (from Siegfried and Roy) after being mauled by his own white tiger.

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For a while the Dominion Post's letters to the editor page was lousy with fundamentalist Christians bemoaning the appointment of new gay Labour MP Charles Chauvel to Parliament. Chauvel, who has been proudly active in gay politics, has the audacity to be wealthy, drive round in a Mercedes (his partner's) and have the highly sought-after residential address of Oriental Parade. One letter ranted that it was evil to have a sodomite in Parliament. So it's almost a miracle that the recent landslip along millionaires' row hasn't produced a swarm of epistles interpreting the slip as God's wrath unleashed on the sodomites.

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Sunday Star-Times staff writer Steve Braunias is full of the joys of spring in his columns and feature articles these days after moving in with Emily Simpson, editor of the Sunday Star-Times magazine. The svelte editor, purringly referred to as the "adorable Emily" by Braunias in a recent cover story, is big with child and the pair have rented a place where "home is the happiness waiting to fill the third, spare bedroom in our house with the spotted doves". The columnist's favourite author is Graham Greene so if the bairn is a boy, look out for Graham Simpson-Braunias in the Births column after Christmas.

Email: mediacolumnist@listener.co.nz