blog april 8


Person under 19 with Covid dies

It’s Friday! Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for April 8. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me on

The latest

  • Another 10 more people with Covid-19 have died, including a person under the age of 19.
  • Outgoing MP Louisa Wall will become an ambassador for gender equality from next month.
  • Matariki has officially been designated a public holiday.
  • David Seymour denies buying Instagram followers as thousands of “bots” flood his account
blog april 8

Person under 19 with Covid dies

It’s Friday! Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for April 8. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me on

The latest

  • Another 10 more people with Covid-19 have died, including a person under the age of 19.
  • Outgoing MP Louisa Wall will become an ambassador for gender equality from next month.
  • Matariki has officially been designated a public holiday.
  • David Seymour denies buying Instagram followers as thousands of “bots” flood his account
Apr 8 2022

Entire NZ parliament ‘blacklisted’ by Russia in retaliation for sanctions

Photo: Getty Images

No New Zealand politician, including Jacinda Ardern, will be able to enter Russia after the country blacklist our entire parliament.

As the Herald reports, Russia’s foreign affairs ministry said that in response to “unprecedented sanctions” which “affected the top leaders of the Russian Federation”, 130 top officials would be put on a “blacklist”.

Along with politicians, members of the military have been blacklisted.

It comes after a number of Russian officials, businesspeople and oligarchs were barred from entering New Zealand in response to the conflict in Ukraine. Trade sanctions were also imposed earlier this week.

Court throws out claim about vaccine mandates for health and education

A health worker in Spain holding a dose of the Janssen vaccine (Eduardo Parra, Getty Images)

The High Court has thrown out a claim that vaccination mandates for the health and education sector were unjustified.

The claim, brought by anti-vaccination groups New Zealand Doctors Speaking Out with Science and New Zealand Teachers Speaking Out with Science, challenged orders imposing mandatory vaccination for workers in the health and disability and education sectors.

In his ruling, justice Cooke concluded that the orders were a “demonstrably justified limit” on the Bill of Rights. He noted that the education mandate has since been lifted and the health order is being reviewed. “I am… satisfied that… the Order as implemented remained justified. That view proceeds on the basis that there will now be a full assessment of the scope of the Order. If the Order is not reduced in scope it may become unjustified,” he said.

Justice Cooke also rejected concerns that the Pfizer vaccine may be unsafe. “I accept the views of the applicants’ experts that there is no long-term safety data,” he said. “Given the pressing need to find effective vaccines, and to deploy them once they were developed, it is inevitable that this was done without longterm data. But nothing in the materials I have been provided suggest to me that any uncertainties in the long-term are likely to give rise to the identification of unforeseen adverse effects.”

Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins welcomed the decision. “The ruling affirms that mandates can be used in certain higher risk settings,” he said. “While the majority of mandates have now been lifted,  they continue to play an important part in protecting the vulnerable and ensuring the continuity of services in health settings, at the border where new variants come in and in prisons where outbreaks could be dangerous.”

The government will continue to investigate the latest information and may make “further refinements” to the scope of the remaining mandates where appropriate, he said.

Covid-19 latest: 10 more deaths, 626 in hospital, 9,906 community cases

Image: Toby Morris

Another 10 more people with Covid-19 have died, including a person under the age of 19, bringing New Zealand’s pandemic death toll up to 466.

Today’s deaths include people who died across the past 15 days. The seven day rolling average of reported deaths is 16.

Of the people whose deaths are being reported today, two people were from the Auckland region, one from Waikato, two from the Lakes DHB area, three from the Wellington region and two from Canterbury. One was aged between 10 and 19, two in their 40s, three in their 70s, three in their 80s, and one over 90. Five were female and five were male.

There are now 626 people in hospital, with 17 in intensive care.

Another 9,906 community cases have been confirmed. “Case numbers are continuing to decline, along with the seven-day rolling average. Today’s seven-day average is 11,281, while last Friday it was 14,171,” said the Ministry of Health in its daily statement.

“Vaccination remains our best defence against Covid-19 and getting boosted is an important way people can protect themselves, their whanau and their friends from the virus.”

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Public asked to give feedback on proposed plan to end modern slavery

Michael Wood, the minister responsible for the FTA scheme (Image / Supplied)

The government’s moving forward on its election promise to end modern slavery.

Consultation has now opened on proposed legislative solutions to the problem. Under the proposed law, organisations would be required to take action if they became aware of worker exploitation. Large organisations would also be required to undertake due diligence to prevent, mitigate and remedy modern slavery and worker exploitation.

Workplace relations minister Michael Wood said the government has worked alongside businesses, non-governmental organisations, unions and academics to develop the proposals.

“Many of our international trading partners already have modern slavery legislation, and New Zealand now needs to join others showing global leadership on these important issues,” he said. “Increasingly international partners expect New Zealand to be taking action on these issues. It is the right thing to do, it is consistent with kiwi values, and it will benefit our trade and international relationships.”

Submissions on the proposals can be made until 7 June 2022.

Newstalk ZB’s Barry Soper to leave the press gallery

Jacinda Ardern takes questions from Barry Soper and a bunch of other journalists at Parliament Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images

Newstalk ZB’s political editor Barry Soper will be leaving the parliamentary press gallery and heading into a new role with the radio station from next year.

The long-serving journalist has recently had his first child with fellow ZB broadcaster Heather du Plessis-Allan.

In a statement, Newstalk ZB confirmed that Soper will take eight weeks of parental leave before returning part time to the press gallery for the remainder of 2022. From next year, he’ll move to Auckland full time to become Newstalk ZB’s senior political correspondent.

“Despite feeling a sense of sadness about leaving the press gallery next year, I’m looking forward to the new opportunity… providing political insights, investigations and commentary,” said Soper.

Soper has more than 40 years of experience in the press gallery, much of it spent with Newstalk ZB.

Jacinda Ardern takes questions from Barry Soper and a bunch of other journalists at Parliament Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images

Australians rank Jacinda Ardern as most ‘believable’ politician

Jacinda Ardern prepares to speak at the Labour Party Annual Conference on November 6, 2021. (Photo: Mark Mitchell-Pool/Getty Images)

Australians really love Jacinda Ardern. In fact, a new survey has revealed they love her more than any Australian politician.

The Ogilvy believability study gave Ardern a score of 66, almost 20 points higher than Australian opposition leader Anthony Albanese on 48. While Ardern was still way ahead, her score was actually 11 points lower than in the previous Ogilvy survey.

Ardern ranked the highest (Ogilvy)

Incumbent Australian PM Scott Morrison came in the lower half of the pack with a fairly dismal 41 – still, it was better Boris Johnson’s 40 and Donald Trump’s 28.

According to the study, Ardern attracted strong positive sentiment from 44% of voters surveyed – ahead Australia’s own election candidates Morrison and Albanese who led the field with 20%. Only 10% express edstrong negative feelings towards Ardern, compared with 34% for Morrison and 19% for Albanese.

“Australian voters are much more likely to share her values, feel that she’s relevant to their life and is factually correct,” the study concluded. “They rate her much higher than Scott Morrison or Anthony Albanese on affinity, commitment and integrity.”

Matariki holiday officially on the calendar


New Zealand officially has another public holiday: Matariki.

The Te Pire mō te Hararei Tūmatanui o te Kāhui o Matariki/Te Kāhui o Matariki Public Holiday Bill passed its third reading 77-43 in parliament yesterday afternoon.

As Don Rowe reported for The Spinoff, the first Matariki holiday will be on June 24 this year and the date will shift annually in order to align with the Maramataka. However the celebration will always be held on a Friday, creating a new long weekend.

The bill was voted down by National and Act, but supported by Labour, the Greens and Te Pāti Māori.

Read more here.



Louisa Wall’s next gig revealed

Louisa Wall leaves the political stage (Photo: Getty Images/photo illustration by Archi Banal)

Outgoing Labour MP Louisa Wall has landed a new job with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She’s been named an ambassador for gender equality (Pacific)/Tuia Tāngata, a role she will begin next month once she leaves parliament.

Wall has been a staunch advocate for the rainbow community while in parliament, most prominently leading the debate for marriage equality in 2012.

As ambassador, Wall will help establish new partnerships and programmes that support participation by women and those in the LGBTQI+ community. She’ll also push for equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life in the Pacific.

Foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta said Wall would make an “invaluable contribution” in the role. “Louisa is a strong advocate for girls and women’s rights and is passionate about human rights and equality,” Mahuta said. “Her extensive experience in community engagement, sports diplomacy, LGTBQI+ rights, and women’s participation, make her uniquely suited as our Ambassador for regional engagement on these issues.”

Wall announced her resignation from politics late last month, citing events surrounding the 2020 election. It’s understood this was regarding Wall losing her spot as Labour candidate for the Manurewa electorate under unclear circumstances.

Fizzies are out and milk in, with proposed overhaul of school drinks

The government is looking at banning sugary drinks from primary schools with a pivot towards healthy options. 1News reports that the proposal would limit students to water, milk and plant-based milks. According to the government, dental decay is the most common disease for the country’s children, while obesity rates are increasingly significantly. Sugary drinks account for a quarter of children’s sugar intake in Aotearoa. Consultations are open for eight weeks on the proposed ban.

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David Seymour denies buying ‘sex bots’ as Instagram following surges

Screen Shot 2022-04-08 at 7.42.08 AM

David Seymour has denied buying Instagram followers after his account was flooded with what seem to be “bot” accounts.

The Act Party leader has gained almost 50,000 followers in one day, with his account growing by around 100 per minute at one point. Overall, it’s jumped from fewer than 30,000 followers to more than 70,000.

Many of the accounts appear to be fake, prompting people on Twitter to question whether the followers had been purchased in an effort to con Instagram’s algorithm. And despite many labelling them “sex bots”, most of the new accounts appear just to be your garden variety fake account. Many have next to no followers or posts, or are private accounts that cannot be viewed.

Seymour told The Spinoff he had no idea why his following had jumped so dramatically. “We wouldn’t buy followers, not my style,” he told us. “My media team have approached Meta to ask for an explanation.”

In a video on his Instagram account posted late last night, Seymour addressed his new bot followers directly. “If you’re a bot from Russia or somewhere thereabouts and you’ve just started following my gram – welcome, hope you enjoy the content about free markets and free minds and a better future for New Zealand,” he said.