by Tim Watkin

I went to Waitangi for Waitangi Day and it got me wondering about commemorations, celebrations, blandness and what's missing

The chap waiting in the Mr Whippy queue with me wearing his grandfather's Maori Warden helmet used the 'c' word. So did one of the aunties on the waka stage, as she introduced her kapahaka group. It's a word that seems to be edging its way into Waitangi Day events, but one that deserves a bit of thought. The 'c' word? "Celebration".

Donald Trump is being backed into a corner politically and legally, with the Mueller investigation expected soon. How far will he go and can America's famed checks and balances withstand the coming storm?

It was a warm November evening on the gulf coast of Florida. President Trump was flying in for a rally two days before the mid-terms and the taxi driver taking us there was a Republican. “Government doesn’t always know best,” he reckoned. “The working man should decide for himself”. But he was a Never Trump Republican, worried about where this mad, bad presidency might end.

Simon Wilson has had another tilt in today's Herald at sparking debate about a focal point for Auckland's waterfront (hint: it's not a stadium). I like his thinking, but reckon he's got one significant detail wrong

Auckland's One Big Thing. It's something I've long argued the city needs, as have many others. Something to act as an anchor, focal point and symbol in this city that so lacks identity.

The extent of spying by several public sector agencies goes to a worrying lack of public service at the heart of our public service

A glance at yesterday's news agenda and 'Government to hold binding cannabis referendum' would have looked like a much more promising and intriguing story than 'State Services Commission releases report'. Ya- and -wn.

The open letter to Jacinda Ardern to show some spine over alleged crimes against Anne-Marie Brady feels vital in the face of a less than urgent response thus far. The professor was only a mechanic away from being another Jamal Khashoggi or Fernando Pereira

The precise words Jacinda Ardern chooses when she finally addresses the claims by University of Canterbury professor Anne-Marie Brady will be telling, but at least she has Donald Trump to look to and the case of Jamal Khashoggi as inspiration.

As a practical people we have been well served by a focus on policy and outcomes. But the Jami-Lee Ross controversies raise the question, 'how much does character and integrity matter?'

I'm a big believer in the maxim, 'play the ball, not the person'. Indeed, it’s the golden rule of behaviour on Pundit and has helped keep this site a pretty respectful place for over a decade.

The leaders of the main two parties both seem determined to miss a moment when voters would love to see them grapple with the unhealthy culture pervading our political life. It's time to move beyond the same old excuses

One of my first memories of government  –  mingled in my childhood mind as around the time of carless days and the omnipotence of Robert Muldoon – is The Knobz class ‘Culture’. Y’know, the song that goes, “Don’t give me culture, I’m not hearing it Rob. I could run around like a Beehive Boy, but I’d like to see you do my job”.

New Zealand First's push for an immigrants 'values test' has taken a dark turn, so let's have a look at all the things New Zealand First is getting wrong here

The devil is always in the detail. It's often not until you get down to the nitty gritty of an idea that you can tell it doesn't just look bad on the surface, it's truly rotten all the way through. Such it is with New Zealand First's dead-end bill on a values test for immigrants.

Jacinda Ardern may have been misguided showing mercy to Clare Curran two weeks ago given the odds of more coming out. But at least she's not left with a low bar precedent around her neck 

This will be a lesson for a still evolving Prime Minister. Better the Band-Aid is pulled off quickly than the slow, painful tear. The now former Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran could have been shown the door two weeks ago when she admitted to a second failure to properly declare a meeting in her role as minister.

UPDATED: This post is a different version from one published on RNZ this morning. It takes into account Trevor Mallard's decision to halt the inquiry into the leak of Simon Bridge's travel expenses. A decision that doesn't resolve anything

Well that’s as clear as mud. And, in way or another, rather sad. We now know that last Thursday both Opposition leader and Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard received a text from someone claiming to be a National MP and taking responsibility for the leak to Newshub of Bridges’ travel expenses.