File photo (Radio NZ)
File photo (Radio NZ)

Covid-19July 14, 2021

The Bulletin: Take RSV seriously, warn sufferers

File photo (Radio NZ)
File photo (Radio NZ)

Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Sufferers warn to take RSV seriously, select committee to hold Bitcoin inquiry, and disgraceful excerpts of March 15 movie script revealed.

A senior sufferer of RSV is warning New Zealanders to take the outbreak seriously. The Stuff piece spoke to Southlander John Scully, who had to be put into isolation in hospital with the respiratory virus. The health workers around him have had to be in full PPE. He thought he just had the flu, but then it never went away – one of the most worrying aspects of RSV is that it really lingers. It can also be deadly – the NZ Herald reported yesterday a woman in her 60s died after contracting RSV.

Outbreaks happen every winter, but this year is particularly bad. The Guardian reports that part of the reason for that is last year’s lockdown, which prevented a cohort from building up immunity. What worked against Covid also works against other viruses, after all. Stuff reports cases were continuing to climb into the end of last week. And as of yesterday, the NZ Herald reported four people were in Wellington hospital’s ICU with RSV.

And because it can hit children hard, the school holidays almost couldn’t have come at a better time. The NZ Herald reported late last week that school attendance has slumped, with some classes down by half. That wasn’t all RSV of course – there are other reasons kids end up off school – but it is thought to have been a significant factor.

Meanwhile, researchers are hoping people will participate in a trial of an RSV vaccine, reports Radio NZ. The scientists aren’t suggesting that any vaccine could be developed to stop the current outbreak, but hope that over time it could save thousands of lives around the world, particularly those of babies.

A select committee will be launching an inquiry into Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, to better understand the nature of the risks and benefits. Newshub reports that will also include looking into the environmental impacts of crypto mining (it’s terrible) and the way cryptocurrencies are used and traded. It comes at a really interesting time for the likes of Bitcoin, which is increasingly seen as a legitimate investment by New Zealanders. It’s fair to say I’m personally a bit more sceptical of it, seeing it more as a wasteful and pointless Ponzi scam. As this Stuff piece shows, tax questions are also coming up at the moment around Bitcoin, particularly because of the extremely volatile prices.

Meanwhile just on the subject generally, this is an incredible story about crypto and crime: The NZ Herald’s David Fisher reports police trying to investigate a money laundering operation (another thing crypto is great for is crime) had the tables turned on them, and instead had about $45,000 worth of Bitcoin stolen from them.

Excerpts from the draft script of the so-called “They Are Us” film have been released, and it’s a load of crap. Newshub’s Patrick Gower reports that families of victims in the March 15 attacks found what they read deeply disrespectful. Not only that, it completely fabricates the post-attack actions of several senior politicians, notably Winston Peters, Simon Bridges and David Seymour – and in the case of the latter two, unfairly turns them into cartoonish villains.

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A fascinating story about body cameras for police officers, and why we hardly ever see footage captured by the NZ Police. Writing for Newsroom, freelancer Zac Fleming has compared the situation with the US, where body camera footage of incidents regularly gets released. Part of the reason in NZ is about not wanting to interfere at all with the court process – but that starts to break down a bit in instances of alleged police misconduct.

A report released at parliament last week has highlighted successes of Māori-medium education, reports Stuff. In particular, the format is seen as giving rangatahi confidence in their identity, which helps them achieve. It is the first report of its kind since Kōhanga Reo education was launched in the early 80s. Associate education minister Kelvin Davis described that as “one of the most significant advancements in New Zealand’s education history.”

The Tauranga Ratepayers Alliance is calling for fresh elections, saying the sacking of the council was “unlawful”, reports Kiri Gillespie for the (paywalled) BOP Times. The group, which includes quite a few ousted councillors, got a legal opinion that alternatives to commissioners were not fully explored. However local government minister Nanaia Mahuta said she is confident of her legal position. For more on the TRA, read my piece from their launch event.

Got some feedback about The Bulletin, or anything in the news? Get in touch with me at

Tamariki at Te Umuroa marae on the outskirts of Ruatāhuna (Image: Alex Braae, edited by Tina Tiller)

Right now on The Spinoff: George Driver writes about the likely wage inflation on the way, but also why it might not leave people feeling better off. Bernard Hickey dismisses the idea an interest rate hike could majorly disrupt the housing market. Chris Hall learns to love Auckland again by walking all over it. Jamie Tahana reports on a new tool Māori communities hope to use against the proliferation of liquor stores. Nicole Geluk-Le Gros discusses the question of a mandate, and what governments can do with theirs.

And I went out to Ruatāhuna about two weeks ago, in Te Urewera, to see a pretty major event for the Tūhoe iwi. From the young people of the tribe, to iwi leaders, to government agencies, everyone was pushing to find ways for Tūhoe to gain mana motuhake and be self-sufficient.

In the last one of our month of Spinoff-people features, here’s a bit from our creative director Toby Morris. He is – in my view – probably the most interesting communicator in the country, using an oft-derided medium to get serious points across, and dramatically raising the standard of how the website looks and feels to browse.

It’s no exaggeration that our growth would not have been possible without our beloved members, who to us are like loyal and passionate parts of our extended family – curious and smart, interested and invested in the future of the site, the country, and the way we all treat each other. Especially over the last turbulent year, the support of our members allowed us the confidence in what we’re doing to feel comfortable trying things – like pairing Siouxsie and me up. That couldn’t have happened without our members.  – Toby Morris, creative director

Every member donation is ring-fenced to fund The Spinoff’s journalism – donate to The Spinoff Members today.

In sport, we’re getting up to the business end of the ANZ Premiership, and the Mainland Tactix are surging. The NZ Herald reports the Tactix destroyed the Northern Stars, pushing them out of the playoff spots in the process. Only four teams can still make the playoffs, with the two crucial matches to come the Stars vs the Southern Steel this weekend – which will likely decide 3rd place – and the potentially top of the table Northern Mystics vs Tactix game the weekend after.

That’s it for The Bulletin. If you want to support the work we do at The Spinoff, please check out our membership programme.

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Image: Archi Banal

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The Spinoff has covered the news that matters in 2021, most recently the delta outbreak. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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Was this the light that the prime minister stared at while designing the traffic light framework? Probably not tbh. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Excuse me, what colour is this? 

Attention drivers and other people who have from time to time looked at traffic lights: this is a scandal.