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Live UpdatesAug 5 2022

Baker: 30% of all current deaths are from Covid-19

Welcome to the end of another week on The Spinoff’s live updates. It’s August 5 and I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, bringing you everything you need to know from around the country. You can get in touch with me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • The abortion debate that pulled in National’s leader Christopher Luxon appeared to kick back off again today.
  • Leo Molloy’s Auckland mayoral campaign loses key players.
  • Silver Ferns to face Jamaica in semi-final after England loss.
  • Covid-19 update: Daily cases continue to drop, 605 now in hospital.
  • 30% of all current deaths are from Covid-19, says Michael Baker.
blog-august-5.jpg

Baker: 30% of all current deaths are from Covid-19

Welcome to the end of another week on The Spinoff’s live updates. It’s August 5 and I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, bringing you everything you need to know from around the country. You can get in touch with me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • The abortion debate that pulled in National’s leader Christopher Luxon appeared to kick back off again today.
  • Leo Molloy’s Auckland mayoral campaign loses key players.
  • Silver Ferns to face Jamaica in semi-final after England loss.
  • Covid-19 update: Daily cases continue to drop, 605 now in hospital.
  • 30% of all current deaths are from Covid-19, says Michael Baker.
Aug 5 2022

Removal of Point Chev tree swings prompts upset

Auckland Council has defended its decision to remove several tree swings along a suburban street, saying it had to prioritise public safety.

The swings were dotted alongside Dignan Street in Point Chevalier and have been there, according to some, for decades.

Locals took to Facebook yesterday to report that the swings were being removed – and express their upset. “This is ridiculous!!” said a post in the Point Chevalier community group, accompanied by a photo of some high vis-adorned swing removers in action.

“There are many swings on Dignan Street and apparently they are taking them all down,” another local said. “They must think they are dangerous?”

A sad lonely swing (Image: Bianca Cross)

Jody Morley, Auckland Council area operations manager, confirmed to The Spinoff that the swings did pose a health risk. “The tree swings… were removed due to the damage being caused to the trees they were attached to. This level of damage can result in structural branches breaking, presenting a health and safety risk to people and property,” Morley said.

“While we understand the swings provided enjoyment to local children, the health and safety of the public has to be our number one priority, and the risk they posed left removal as the best option.”

The shape of the outbreak

Covid cases and hospitalisations are on the decline this week – but the death rate remains high.

Here’s how the outbreak is tracking this Friday.

Covid-19 update: Daily cases continue to drop, 605 now in hospital

There are 5,296 new community cases of Covid-19, the lowest daily tally since Monday. The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 5,812 – last Friday it was 7618.

The number of Covid-related hospitalisations has dropped by nearly 60 overnight down to 605, including 17 in intensive care. While the highest number of hospitalisations has been in Waikato for the past few days, there are now more – 87 in total – in Waitematā.

There are now a total of 1,624 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor. The seven-day rolling average increase in total deaths attributable to Covid-19 is now 20. The overall death toll increased by 18 today, including both deaths attributed and not attributed to the virus.

QUIZ: Have you been paying attention this week?

It’s time for The Friday Quiz! How well have you been following the news this week? Test yourself below.


New documentary series asks women to open up about their hair

It’s time to get to the root of our prickly relationship with body hair. In Hair Now, six women from different cultural backgrounds across Aotearoa examine how their hair shapes their identity. Beauty therapist Jessica shapes her eyebrows to fit her mood; Kenzi is getting more comfortable with her unshaved legs; Roxie navigates the worlds of film and fashion as she grows out her monobrow; Yasmine accepts a gift of laser therapy; Serena goes to a hairdresser who can manage curls; and Genevieve visits a barber to get her undercut just like she likes it.

Join these women in Hair Now, made with the support of NZ On Air. Starts next Friday, August 12, on The Spinoff.

30% of all current deaths are from Covid-19 – Michael Baker

Prominent Covid-19 communicator Michael Baker said New Zealand has just recorded its most deadly week of Covid-related deaths on record.

The Otago University epidemiologist was speaking to former Newstalk ZB host Pat Brittenden on his BHN webseries when he made the claim. He also said that 30% of all deaths in New Zealand at the moment are from Covid-19.

“That’s quite shocking,” said Baker. “It’s way ahead of heart attacks and cancer as a killer on any one day.”

It’s worth noting, as Baker clarified, that this statistic is very current and may not still be the case in a week’s time – however, it remains a fascinating marker of where New Zealand currently stands in the pandemic. The figure Baker is using is also the total number of deaths recorded of people with Covid-19, as opposed to exclusively deaths of people directly attributed to the virus.

You can watch the full interview here.

The VIP Koru Lounge perk that made us go ‘wtf’

Stuff wrote today about a supposedly secret, extra VIP part of Air New Zealand’s Koru Lounge. It’s called Elite Priority One, or EP1, and it’s apparently limited to about 100 members all invited personally by Air NZ’s boss Greg Foran.

So far, so privileged.

But one EP1 perk caught our attention here at The Spinoff. Members can choose to kick off two economy customers on fully booked flights. Yes, EP1 members are guaranteed an economy seat and an unlucky chosen two could be dumped onto another flight.

Happy travelling.

(Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Silver Ferns to face Jamaica in semi-final after England loss

The Spinoff’s resident netball fanatic Reweti Kohere writes:

The Silver Ferns will face Jamaica in the netball semi-finals of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, after losing their final pool game this morning against reigning champions England.

New Zealand went down 44-54 against a determined and experienced Roses squad, who won gold four years ago on the Gold Coast. The loss puts the Ferns second in pool B behind England and sets up a date with Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls, who won 57-55 in a historic victory against the Australian Diamonds.

The Ferns started their final pool game seven goals down after the first quarter, but the introduction of goal attack Te Paea Selby-Rickit and wing defence Kate Heffernan helped bring them back to within one goal by half-time, 24-25. A six-goal run in the third quarter, however, set the Roses up to take the all-important win in the final 15 minutes.

Post-match, Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua described the last five minutes as a pity, given the squad showed some fight to remain in contention, only for the score to blow out to 10 goals. “All credit, as I always say, to the opposition. They did very well,” she said. Asked for her thoughts on Jamaica’s win over Australia, Dame Noeline responded: “Holy heck! I’m not saying if it pours, but it definitely might rain. That’s what it’s all about…I’m looking forward to [the semi-final].”

New Zealand and Jamaica will play either 8pm Saturday or 1.30am Sunday, New Zealand time.

The Birmingham 2022 Silver Ferns squad (Photo: Getty Images; additional design: Tina Tiller)

On the radio chatting the OIA, the Greens and more

I popped up on Today FM’s First Light show with Rachel Smalley this morning, chatting OIA reform, Green Party leadership in-fighting and the cost of living payment bungle.

Have a listen if you feel so inclined.

Leo Molloy’s campaign loses key players

Leo Molloy’s campaign to become Auckland mayor has hit a bump in the road, losing its communications manager and social media agency.

It comes after, though may not be connected to, the highly publicised interview Molloy gave on Three’s New Zealand Today with Guy Williams. The expletive-ridden chat, filled with everything from threats of violence to inappropriate slurs, was both criticised and celebrated after airing last month.

According to Newsroom, the Molloy campaign has lost communications manager Kate Gourdie just three months out from polling. “As Leo is taking a new approach to media relations and communications, I believe it is a good time for someone else to step in and run it so I can pursue other opportunities,” Gourdie said in a statement.

It’s not entirely clear what the referenced “new approach” is, but Newsroom’s Mark Jennings speculated that Gourdie may have bowed out as a form of risk management to her own career. Meanwhile, the Campaign Company – operated by Taxpayers’ Union founder Jordan Williams – confirmed it, too, had dropped out of Molloy’s mayoral run.

A month ago, campaign committee chair June McCabe also stepped down.

The Bulletin: Water infrastructure in parts of Auckland cannot handle more housing

Auckland Council’s planning committee met yesterday and voted in favour of new zoning policy allowing for intensification, with exemptions for some areas of Auckland’s rural towns, coastal areas at risk of erosion, areas of cultural significance to Māori and special character neighbourhoods. Fourteen councillors were in favour and seven abstained.

It was also revealed that many suburbs including Devonport; Henderson-Massey, Howick, Mt Eden, Herne Bay, Grey Lynn and Ponsonby have water, wastewater and stormwater constraints. The council agreed that these constraints will exempt these areas from the government’s intensification rules.

Want to read The Bulletin in full? Click here to subscribe and join over 36,000 New Zealanders who start each weekday with the biggest stories in politics, business, media and culture.

Labour reintroduces abortion debate

The abortion debate that pulled in National’s leader Christopher Luxon appeared to kick back off on breakfast television this morning.

Newshub’s AM featured a political panel of Labour minister Michael Wood and National MP Erica Stanford.

Topics canvassed were, predictably, focused on this week’s cost of living botch-up along with yesterday’s tax tit for tat (which you can read a lot more about in today’s edition of The Bulletin).

When discussing National’s perceived double backtrack on tax policy, Wood made a carefully considered political play: he suggested that if you can’t trust National to stick to its tax policy, you can’t be sure it won’t circle back on its abortion stance either.

“If you can’t trust them to keep a straight position on this, how can you trust them on issues like abortion,” he said.

The abortion debate threatened to bring down Luxon back in the wake of the devastating Roe v Wade ruling back in June. At the time, Luxon allowed his personal “pro-life” views to interfere with his claim that National would not alter New Zealand’s current abortion laws. He reiterated that point numerous times, but it didn’t seem to stick with the media.

Writing for the NZ Herald, right-leaning political pundit Matthew Hooton said that while the abortion debate did little to damage Luxon’s overall credibility, a series of recent gaffes have proven he’s no John Key or Jacinda Ardern. “Labour is raising fears about Luxon to hold on to and attract back support,” he wrote.

While it was eventually settled that National wouldn’t play around with our abortion laws should it win next year’s election, Wood’s comment today showed that Labour knows it’s an issue they have the upper hand on – and they’re happy to restart the debate for political gain.