As a Christian Today daily columnist my nose is into publications of all sorts, not least New Zealand on-line media for a number of reasons.
Our young writer program has 23 New Zealand young people engaged and as this is the fourth year of involvement by New Zealanders, so too there have been a number of these young writers (8) who have written for two years and moved on.
Then, there is my involvement with ARPA for seven years and continuing – the Australasian Religious Press Association – with professional journalists writing in Christian publications – whether that be denominational or a variety of independent sources. Many New Zealanders attend the annual conference where we catch up.
In 2012 the annual ARPA conference was held in Wellington New Zealand and for that conference we had three of our young writers, two from Australia and one from New Zealand.
Obviously therefore, I have an interest in New Zealand as a result of these professional activities which has involved many visits to New Zealand including conferences for the young writers, Christian media commitments, preaching, and chaplaincy with the touring Australian cricket team in 2000.
If you desperately want to know the extent of this New Zealand travel, way back in 1990 there was the Auckland Commonwealth Games chaplaincy and before that still, a South Pacific Sports Missions Conferences in both 1989 and 1991. Many of our past and current New Zealand young writers weren't even born and many were babies or toddlers at this time.
Maybe I saw without knowing it, Jared Diprose, Elesha Edmonds, Casey Murray, Brad Mills, Gemma Taylor, Mercy Cornish .... being wheeled in prams by their parents at the 1990 Commonwealth Games. Who knows ?
That's the personal, now to sport. Australian news in New Zealand on-line publications has a huge component of sport - there is so much cross-Tasman sporting activities.
Consider the New Zealand Trans-Tasman Netball let alone the massive itinerary of the Silver Ferns and their arch rivals the Australian Diamonds.
The All-Backs and the Wallabies and the Bledesoe Cup. This reminds me of a Hamilton Men's Dinner in 2000 I spoke at, when the Australians were winning these trans-Tasman sporting cups, and my dad joke was: "I see that we're all drinking our tea and coffee from mugs, Of course, all the Cups are in Australia." (I think I may have lost my audience at that point).
The Rugby League's Auckland Warriors, the A-League's Wellington Phoenix, the Hockey Black Sticks, and on and on it goes. They all demand column space.
Personal, Sport and then Business. Every New Zealand on-line news publication has a business section and we in Australia need only view any supermarket to see how much exporting New Zealand goes into our fridges, fruit bowls, pantry's and kitchens. Global companies have businesses located in both Australia and New Zealand.
Plus New Zealand has a significant finance sector with a very vibrant stock exchange and perhaps the most obvious, tourism. Tourism is so big that under New Zealand law no visitor can sue a New Zealand company for injury or sustainability when engaging in any tourism activity. At your own risk!
We can add to all this the on-line news items associated with Australia with the entertainment industry, film production, actors and performers, the music industry, rocks bands, symphony orchestras, choral choirs, university and tertiary, the sciences, education, and the like. Casey Murray the New Zealand young writer (Auckland) who finished 2nd in 2013 and won the Basil Sellers Award in 2014 studied marketing at Sydney University.
My favourite hobby horse – the pathetic response of the Australian governments of all colours not to consider New Zealand airports "domestic". With New Zealand the highest travel destination of Australians, of which I have written previously, why we have to go through the customs rigmarole – it's ridiculous – look, when in Europe one can travel from England across eight different countries to Greece, all with a lovely smile.
The politics covers everything and therefore the New Zealand on-line news publications has oodles of Australian stories.
Perhaps the biggest push for New Zealand on-line news publications including so much Australia news is that so many New Zealand's have family, loved one's and friends living in Australia. It's a three hour flight and you're visiting your mum and dad, or sister, cousin or mate, take a holiday, go fruit picking, whatever. Last year I saw a flight special from Perth, Western Australia to Auckland New Zealand for $150 one way.
There is an emotional pool here for which so many New Zealander's are intimately engaged and reading about Australian news is as paramount to them as local news.
There is so much Christian ministry inter-change between Australia and New Zealand that it's like a sharing of the pulpit. International Pentecostal Hillsong preachers Brian Houston and Triple C Phil Pringle are both New Zealanders.
I am just one of many Australians travelling regularly to New Zealand for Christian ministry – it's like a passing in the night as mission personnel head either which way. Our young writer editor Sophia Sinclair and husband Andrew and their baby have moved from Christchurch to the Sydney Bible and Missionary College as Andrew has initiated a theology degree. Sophia is putting her years as the NZ CMS editor to ministry use for the benefit of her fellow young writers by becoming their editor.
At the APRA conference in Wellington New Zealand in 2012, I made a formal complaint to a New Zealand Member of Parliament visiting the conference, there was only one 30min New Zealand segment on television's Sky News. His response was one of astonishment, as he explained and my paraphrase, the surveys showed New Zealand news came a long second - to Australian news.
Now, Strange? Well, perhaps not at all!
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 25 books, and enjoys writing. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded ‘The Gutenberg’ - the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award. In September 2020 Summer Moore presented her commission portrait of Dr Mark Tronson holding the Gutenberg plaque. He and David Chang editor of Christian Today together bought the young writer ministry into fruition in 2009. In 2011 Mark established Laguna Quays Respite (Whitsundays) for missionary respite and replicated at Aldinga Beach 2016 (Adelaide) and Greens Beach Bass Straight (TAS). His ministry is honoured all these years by Christian philanthropist Mr Basil Sellers AM. He is married to Delma (44 years), with four adult married children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/dr-mark-t.html