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Nelson Covid cluster grows as traffic light framework to begin

Hello and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for December 2. It’s the final day of lockdown! I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. You can reach me on

Today’s headlines

blog upd dec 2

Nelson Covid cluster grows as traffic light framework to begin

Hello and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for December 2. It’s the final day of lockdown! I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. You can reach me on

Today’s headlines

Dec 2 2021

Three new Covid cases in New Plymouth

Three positive Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in New Plymouth, says the Ministry of Health.

The three cases, all part of the same New Plymouth household, all have a known link to an existing case in Rotorua.

The ministry is encouraging anyone in Taranaki with symptoms, no matter how mild, to get tested.

Testing centres coordinated by Taranaki DHB will be open for longer hours starting tomorrow at 8am in New Plymouth.  The DHB’s testing centres will also be operating extended hours through the weekend.

Rhythm and Vines postponed till Easter

The Rhythm and Vines music festival, held every year over the New Year period in Gisborne, is being postponed until Easter weekend 2022.

Festival organisers say the decision to postpone was made in consultation with Tairāwhiti iwi, Tairāwhiti DHB, local councils and members of parliament.

It took into account that Gisborne would be in the red setting of the new traffic light system, which limits gathering sizes, until at least December 13, they said. Tairāwhiti has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

The festival, which attracts about 30,000 people a year to the Tairāwhiti region, will now be held at Waiohika Estate from April 15-17. Ticket holders can use their tickets for the new dates or there is a 14-day refund window for those who can’t make it.

Speaking to Checkpoint,  festival director Kieran Spillane said it was unlikely Gisborne would get to the orange setting until at least early next year.

Talent for the festival would now need to be rebooked and international acts would need to enter the MIQ lottery system again, he said.

Action Ninja World to close indefinitely

At Action Ninja World, there’s a challenge for everyone. Image: Tina Tiller

A theme park north of Auckland that was the subject of a story published on The Spinoff has suddenly closed its doors – and it doesn’t know when they’ll reopen.

Based in Matakana Country Park, Action Ninja World opened in February, offering kids and adults the chance to experience adventure park thrills and challenges, including trapeze swings, zorb football, climbing walls, a water slide, high-wire jousting and an adventure course.

In the months after opening, it was so popular nearby restaurants and cafes would be forced to close early after running out of food.

The park closed for winter, and then again because of Covid-19 alert level changes.

Recently, Action Ninja World reopened three days a week, allowing customers to return in smaller numbers, complying with Covid-19 protocols. It inspired the story Everyone relax: Aotearoa’s best theme park is back in action, published yesterday, which inspired many readers to share the story on Facebook and plan visits with their family. “We should go” was a familiar comment.

Today, those visits are all cancelled. A note on the park’s website that went up this afternoon informs patrons the park is closed until further notice “due to unforeseen circumstances”.

It reads: “We are working hard behind the scenes with the Auckland Council to make this experience available as soon as we can, however, there’s no confirmed date at this stage. We will advise you as soon as we have a confirmed reopening date.”

The Spinoff has requested comment from Auckland Council. An Action Ninja World spokesperson said they would comment when “given the all clear”.

Simon Bridges confirmed as new National finance spokesperson 

After days of rampant speculation, new National Party leader Christopher Luxon has officially announced Simon Bridges as his finance spokesperson. He will take up the number three position behind Luxon and his deputy Nicola Willis.

A full caucus reshuffle is expected on Sunday, with all eyes on where former leader Judith Collins will be placed. 

Bridges, also a former leader, was widely expected to be given the finance role after he withdrew from the National leadership race and paved the way for Luxon to take the top job. Bridges will also be the party’s infrastructure spokesperson.

“Simon has prodigious skills, incredible talent and the intellectual heft needed to excel as National’s Finance spokesperson,” Luxon said.

“He is ideally suited to prosecute the wasteful spending decisions, spiralling debt and rising costs of living occurring under the Labour government.”

Under Collins, the finance role was split into both a finance and treasurer spokesperson. It’s not yet clear whether Luxon will remerge the portfolios however Bridges had previously turned down finance due to the split.

“Growing our economy and raising productivity are the biggest things we can do to improve the lives of all New Zealanders,” added Luxon. “For the last 30 years, our economy has been suffering from a productivity disease.”

Luxon said that Bridges will play a “central and critical role” in the party’s leadership team. Bridges was meant to join Luxon at today’s announcement but couldn’t make it after one of his sons had an accident at school.

Watch: Christopher Luxon makes first announcement as National leader

Christopher Luxon is about to make his first announcement since becoming National Party leader on Tuesday. He’ll be speaking from Tauranga alongside Simon Bridges, who is the local MP.

It’s widely expected Luxon will announce Bridges’ new portfolio after he was dramatically demoted by Judith Collins last week in a move that ultimately led to her ousting.

You can watch the announcement below or follow along with our live coverage from 2pm.

Today’s key Covid-19 numbers, charted

Here’s a look at how the outbreak’s tracking on the final day of Auckland’s lockdown/the entire alert level system.

For more, visit The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker page here.

86% of the eligible population fully vaccinated

Almost 40,000 more doses of the Covid-19 vaccine were administered yesterday, including 7,856 first doses, 14,254 second doses and 16,370 booster doses. That’s pushed the eligible population up to 86% fully vaccinated with 93% having had at least one dose.

Check out how your DHB is doing here:

10 new delta cases in Nelson among 172 confirmed nationwide

There are 172 new cases of Covid-19, including an additional 10 in the Nelson area. It comes on the final day of the alert level system with the traffic light framework coming into effect at 11.59pm tonight.

The other new cases are in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, the Lakes DHB are and MidCentral.

There are now 14 cases in the Nelson-Tasman region, made up of two clusters: one of 11 cases and one of three. “A possible connection between the two clusters is being investigated,” said the Ministry of Health.

Two schools in Nelson, Enner Glynn School and Broadgreen Intermediate, have had cases. Both schools have temporarily closed while a risk assessment is undertaken and close contacts are identified. Next steps will then be agreed with the Ministry of Education.

Four new locations of interest in Nelson were added to the Ministry’s website yesterday afternoon. “People in the Nelson-Tasman region are asked to check this page as it is updated regularly.”

Despite the increase in new cases, Ashley Bloomfield this morning indicated Nelson would still enter the traffic light framework at orange.

There are now 86 people in hospital with Covid-19, including nine in intensive care.

Of today’s cases, 117 have not yet been linked to the wider outbreak with 929 mystery cases from the past fortnight.

Today’s case details, in full

There are 142 new cases being reported in Auckland. Health staff are now supporting 3,634 people to isolate at home, including 910 cases.

Today’s pair of new Northland cases are in Kaitaia and Kawakawa. Both are close contacts of known cases. The Kaitaia case was in isolation when tested and investigations into the Kawakawa case are under way.

There was an unexpected wastewater detection in a sample from Ahipara taken on November 25.

“Although this may be connected to cases isolating in the area, people living in the area are urged to get tested if they have even mild symptoms,” said the ministry.

There are 15 new cases in Waikato being reported today. Of those, six are in Kawhia, three in Te Kūiti, two in Hamilton, two in Ngāruawāhia, one in Huntly, and one is under investigation. So far, 11 have been linked to existing cases.

There is one new Bay of Plenty case. They are a household contact of a previously reported case and were already self-isolating at home when they tested positive.

There are no further cases to report today associated with Te Akau ki Pāpāmoa School, but the assessment by Toi Te Ora Public Health is that further cases associated with the school are likely.

There are two new cases in Lakes District. One of these cases is in Rotorua and is a household contact of a previously reported case. They were already self-isolating at home when they tested positive. Investigations are under way to determine any links between the other new case and previously reported cases.

Finally, as aforementioned, there are 10 new cases in Nelson-Tasman. One of these will be added to tomorrow’s tally.

The best way to read The Spinoff

As you will have noticed, The Spinoff has had a glow up – a full redesign and incredibly fast new platform across mobile and desktop (read Toby Morris explaining it here). What’s even better is our two amazing new apps, one for iPhone, the other Android. They’re probably the best way to stay across everything we’re doing – and if you turn on push notifications you’ll get the Covid-19 numbers as soon as they come out, plus our best story of the day, every day. Plus they’re totally free.

Final Covid numbers before traffic light move due at 1pm

It’s the last day of lockdown which means today’s Covid-19 numbers, due in a written statement, will be the final set of case details before the shift into the traffic light framework.

As usual, the Ministry of Health is expected to send out today’s numbers around 1pm. Keep the live updates refreshed for all the details when they land.

Paul Henry joins new MediaWorks talk station… sort of

Broadcaster Paul Henry has been announced as the “station voice” of MediaWorks’ forthcoming talk station Today FM.

Henry was last on our airwaves during the first lockdown when he hosted a nightly Covid-themed news show on Three.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be across some of the planning behind Today FM and knew early on I wanted to be part of it,” said Henry in a station. “I’m delighted to lend my voice to such a positive new station – I know Today FM is going to be fresh, interesting and, like me, highly entertaining.”

At this stage, Henry won’t be hosting a show on the station himself.

Paul Henry (photo: supplied)

Full line-up announced for Newshub’s new ‘AM’ show

In other media news, Bernadine Oliver-Kerby and William Waiirua will join the news team of Newshub’s AM show in 2022. They join co-hosts Ryan Bridge and Melissa Chan-Green.

Oliver-Kerby will be the news and sports presenter for the show and will also host the AM Early show from 5.30am on weekdays.

Social media star and former Dancing with the Stars contestant Waiirua will become AM’s roving weather presenter.

Wellington Airport latest location of interest confirmed in capital

More locations of interest have been identified in Wellington.

Wellington Airport was visited by a confirmed case of Covid-19 on November 22 and 23, while the Brentwood Hotel in Kilbirnie was visited on November 26.

Earlier this week the Ministry of Health confirmed that the growing list of locations of interest in the capital were linked to positive case that visited the city from Rotorua.

Ikea’s first store to open at Sylvia Park

New Zealand’s first Ikea store is set to be in Auckland’s Sylvia Park.

Stuff reports that Ikea New Zealand has signed a sale and purchase agreement with Kiwi Property Group for land.

The Swedish furniture/meatball giants have long been expected to open their first warehouse in Auckland, but no locations had been announced.

An opening date has not been announced.

Aotearoa’s most popular YouTube video revealed

A YouTuber who spent 50 hours buried alive in a plastic coffin has been crowned for creating the most popular video watched by New Zealanders in 2021.

James Donaldson, an American YouTuber known as MrBeast, uploaded his video, ‘I Spent 50 Hours Buried Alive,’ on March 27. It has since snared nearly 148 million views – many of them from users in Aotearoa.

YouTube today confirmed it as the top trending video across New Zealand in 2021. 

Other popular videos in YouTube’s top 10 include ‘Glitterbomb Trap Catches Phone Scammer,’ Jimi Jackson’s ‘When your mate eats all your food at home,‘ and ‘Asian Guy surprises people in NZ with Maori (te reo) language.’

YouTube also confirmed the country’s most popular YouTube channel is from mixed martial arts fighter Israel Adesanya, followed by Fortnite gamer McCreamy, Jimi Jackson, comedian Uce Gang and Scott Brown Carpentry.

Our most popular local music video is Sons of Zion’s Love on the Run, and the ’70s soul-infused supergroup fronted by Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak, Silk Sonic, delivered our most popular international video, Leave the Door Open.

Top five music videos (local):

1. Sons of Zion – Love on the Run ft. Jackson Owens
2. SIX60 – All She Wrote
3. Ka Hao – 35 (feat. Rob Ruha)
4. Fejoint – Come Closer (feat. Konecs, Reggie & Switch.E)
5. Lorde – Solar Power

Top five music videos (international):

1. Leave the Door Open – Silk Sonic
2. Peaches – Justin Bieber
3. Kiss Me More – Doja Cat
4. drivers license – Olivia Rodrigo
5. Save Your Tears – The Weekend

Bloomfield defends January rollout for 5-11 vaccine

The director general of health has defended the decision to not start vaccinating those under 12 until late January.

The Pfizer jab has not yet been officially approved in New Zealand for children aged 5-11. But, speaking to RNZ, Ashley Bloomfield said there was expected to be an announcement in the next two to three weeks.

“We need MedSafe and our technical scientific advisor to provide advice around the safety and efficacy and around the rollout of the vaccine,” he said.

That would mean the vaccination would be approved before the end of the year. Asked why the rollout could not start then instead of next year, Bloomfield said there were three key reasons. Firstly, vaccination teams have been going “flat out” all year and need a break and secondly many people who would qualify for the vaccination will be on holiday. People also need to be trained to administer the vaccine as it is a different formulation.

However, Bloomfield said: “We have enough vaccination on order to do the entire 5-11 group.”

It was possible that certain schools or areas could be prioritised when the rollout begins. “We will be making a big effort to go in and vaccinate our Māori and Pasfikia tamariki earlier,” said Bloomfield. “They tend to live in bigger households and we know that household size does have a real impact on the likelihood of kids being infected inside the house.”

‘Vax the Nation’: Wiles, Seymour and more cameo in new music video

Remember Dr Joel Rindelaub? Yes. That one. The one that I labelled “New Zealand’s newest science celebrity” back in January.

The most epic moustache in science is back and this time he’s brought some friends. Rindelaub has released a new music video targeted at bolstering New Zealand’s vaccination rates. Titled “Vax the Nation”, the video co-stars fellow science communicators Siouxsie Wiles, Dame Juliet Gerrard and Jin Russell along with politicians Chlöe Swarbrick and David Seymour.

Have a watch:

Rindelaub, an aerosol chemist who popularised science terms like “face hole”, said he wanted to bring science further into the public realm. “With so much misinformation floating around about vaccine safety, we need to find new ways to share science,” said Rindelaub. “Currently there aren’t a lot of hip-hop lyrics dedicated to scientific advancement.”

Last chance to get fully vaccinated in time for Christmas

If you’re yet to have your first dose of the vaccine, today might be your last chance to get both doses in time for Christmas Day.

Many community vaccination centres will have a period of shutdown for Christmas and the public holidays, with December 23 the final day before Christmas – three weeks from today.

NRHCC vaccination programme director Matt Hannant said for anyone who has been on the fence, now is the time to get the jab. “With Auckland moving into the traffic light system at red on Friday, and the border opening up in just over two weeks, it’s vital that those waiting don’t wait any longer,” he said.

“The best way to protect your whānau over the holidays is to ensure you are fully vaccinated, and it also opens up many more freedoms for you to fully enjoy the kiwi summer.”

Meanwhile, Auckland DHB is just over 200 doses away from hitting the 90% milestone for Māori. Whānau Ora is holding a special 12-hour vaccination event on Saturday, with a concert in the afternoon that will feature a line-up of bands and musicians, including Rob Ruha. The first 1,000 people to get vaccinated will receive a free hāngī pack and go in the draw to win spot prizes such as return flights to Queenstown, cell phones and gift vouchers.