on the ground in:
TRUTH BE TOLD
Migrant worker exploitation investigation
Steve Kilgallon’s three-year investigation into migrant workers exploited in New Zealand has impacted individual lives via new jobs and visas, and forced systemic change. Alongside visual journalist David White, Steve’s relentless pursuit of the story has seen stakeouts, doorknocks, a physical altercation in which a Stuff staff member was attacked, a dozen Official Information Act requests, and legal threats, to draw sharp focus on the structural causes of migrant exploitation, system inefficiencies and the liquor industry’s relationship with migrants. Recently, a bottle store exposed for its owners’ alleged exploitation was ordered to close. A court ruling preventing exploitative employers from losing their liquor licences for labour law breaches was challenged — and won — by the Medical Officer of Health, who cited Steve’s work as primary evidence.
Unwarranted: Police racial bias revealed
Unwarranted began with curiosity: what aspect of policing would reveal whether ethnicity swayed frontline decisions? We focused on warrantless searches. It took two years, several Official Information Act requests and appeals to the Ombudsman to obtain details of every warrantless search in 2018-2019. Police had said they didn’t collect ethnicity data, so data journalist Felippe Rodrigues built a database, comparing searches carried out by each police station with ethnicity data for the location of that station. Eugene Bingham searched every district court, high court and court of appeal decision published over the past few years to find cases where warrantless searches had been used, as well as interviewing lawyers, advocates, politicians and ex-police officers. Critically, with visual journalist Chris McKeen, Eugene approached young people (via community organisations). Their experiences backed up what the data was telling us — that if you’re brown, you’re more likely to be targeted by the police. The database showed searches were far more common in areas with higher Māori and Pasifika populations. Then, on the eve of publication, the Police Commissioner admitted that the police did collect ethnicity data, and arranged for it to be released to us. What it showed, he said, was “appalling”. As a result police are now reviewing how they interact with Māori and Pasifika.
AUT sexual harassment investigation
It took one whistleblower and #MeTooNZ Editor Alison Mau to blow the lid open on decades of sexual stalking and harassment at a top university.
As a result two AUT pro-vice chancellors resigned and a movement was formed to tackle harassment in tertiary organisations following Mau’s five-month long investigation.
Mau’s reporting was intense — a 12-hour line-by-line analysis of 137 texts between the whistleblower and victim Dr Marisa Paterson and internationally renowned academic Professor Max Abbott CNZM — was just the start.
Then interviews with about 40 new sources, many based overseas, each helping to disprove AUT’s claims that its processes in tackling sexual harassment claims were sound.
Uncovering the truth in such allegations requires sensitivity with Mau working closely with Dr Paterson, who was putting her own academic reputation on the line by calling out her harasser’s behaviour.
Mau’s work in the #MeToo area has had a lasting impact with hundreds of people submitting to a subsequent university-ordered external review undertaken by a top QC.