blog final dec 9


Daily delta cases bounce back up above 100

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for December 9. Can you believe it’s nearly Christmas?! I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Get in touch with me on

Today’s headlines

Dec 9 2021

Peeni Henare receives his booster shot shirtless

The associate minister of health received his Pfizer vaccine booster today, and in an apparent act of solidarity with fellow minister Stuart Nash, Henare did so without a shirt on. The shot (photo) evidence was taken from the front, where Henare doesn’t look as proud of his shirtlessness as Nash apparently was.

When asked what he thought of Henare’s shirtless actions, Nash – who prides himself on his workout regimen – replied: “I was looking at that photo and I couldn’t see any shoulders.” He then laughed and walked away. Henare and his non-existent shoulders have yet to respond to the slight but investigations are ongoing into this worrying trend.

How to add your vaccine pass to your Air NZ app


Good news: The Air New Zealand app has just been updated so you can include your vaccine status in the form of your Covid-19 My Vaccine Pass. Even better news: we tried it and it worked.

Just open your Air NZ app (you may need to check first that it is updated to the latest version) and you’ll be greeted with a screen inviting you to add your pass. You then need to either scan the QR code on a printed pass or upload either the pass itself or a screenshot. I’ve got mine in a wallet on my phone, so I screengrabbed and uploaded that and before you can say Pfizer-BioNTech aka Comirnaty, there it is. If there’s any chance you’ll be travelling in the months ahead, upload yours now, in the cause of shorter queues for all.

Kiri Allan says her latest scans show ‘no sign’ of cancer

Labour minister Kiri Allan has announced she’s free of cancer after undergoing treatment in June.

Allan was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer in April, taking extended leave from parliament for treatment and recovery.

In a post on her Instagram, Allan said she had her first scan since completing treatment earlier this week. “Today my incredible radiation oncologist called me to say that the scan shows that there is no sign of residual cancer (technical phrase: no evidence of disease),” wrote Allan.

“I can’t describe what we are feeling right now, and I’ll be honest, I was preparing for a different kind of phone call today. There is a five year period where I’ll be tested every six months, and it’s not until the end of that period of five years where I can say ‘my chances of having that cancer are no longer likely’.”

Allan called the news a “huge milestone” and thanked the “incredible medical staff” that saved her life. “This disease caught me out and I was not prepared for what would follow. We have the medicine, the science and the expertise to detect this form of cancer far earlier then I did,” said Allan.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Kiri Allan (@kiri_allan_mp)

Auckland police presence to increase over Christmas period

More police officers will be visible in Auckland’s CBD over the coming weeks as workplaces close and people celebrate the end of 2021.

Senior sergeant Mark Clayton said with hospitality venues reopened under the traffic light system, more people will be in the city.

“We will be keeping a close eye on the festivities for any potential trouble and you can expect to see a noticeable increase in the amount of police staff on the streets,” he said.

A “large number” of staff will be deployed to patrol the streets around the CBD on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, said Clayton, as well as other popular hangout spots in Auckland such as Mission Bay.

Free rapid Covid tests available for unvaccinated domestic travellers

Unvaccinated and asymptomatic domestic travellers will be able to access free rapid antigen testing for Covid-19 over the summer period.

Pharmacies across the country will be able to deliver the testing which returns a result within 15 minutes.

When Auckland’s border lifts on December 15, everyone leaving the city will require proof of vaccination or a valid negative Covid test.

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said the antigen tests should be administered as close to the time of travel as possible, ideally within 24 hours.

“Travellers are still able to use a negative PCR test to meet any travel requirements, but that is not recommended,” said Bloomfield. “Using the alternative rapid antigen test will allow our laboratories to focus on processing PCR tests. This will reduce the turnaround time for returning results to symptomatic people and close contacts of confirmed cases as we continue to respond to the current outbreak.”

It’s not clear whether vaccinated travellers who want additional peace of mind before visiting lower vaccinated parts of the country will be eligible for a free test. The ministry has been approached for comment.

The shape of the delta outbreak

There were 22,859 total vaccine doses administered yesterday, including 3,786 first doses and 9,339 second doses. To date, 94% of eligible people in New Zealand have had their first dose and 88% are fully vaccinated. 

More than 90% of Māori in Canterbury are now at least partially vaccinated. Canterbury has become the third DHB to achieve this milestone for Māori. Counties Manukau has also achieved the 90% first dose mark for Pacific people.

 West Coast has become the 17th DHB to reach 90% first doses.

More than 4 million My Vaccine Passes have now been issued.

To view more snazzy graphs like these, visit The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker here.

103 new delta cases; Māngere care home staffer tests positive

There are 103 new community cases of Covid-19 today, including a staff member at a Māngere care home.

Counties Manukau DHB staff are supporting residents and staff of the David Lange Care Home and testing is currently being undertaken with residents and staff.

Of today’s new cases, 88 are in Auckland, nine are in Waikato, five are in Bay of Plenty and one is in the Lakes DHB area. There is also one new case in Christchurch which will be formally included in tomorrow’s tally.

The person has direct links to a Canterbury case we reported last weekend. They were in isolation during their infectious period. The case investigation is under way, however early indications are that it is unlikely that there will be any locations of interest.

In addition, the Ministry of Health is today confirming a case in Ōpōtiki, in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, who is also isolating at home. This case, who normally resides in Ōpōtiki, was tested outside the Eastern Bay of Plenty before returning home and is not included in the region’s case numbers today.

There are currently 70 people with Covid-19 in hospital including five in intensive care.

Today’s case details

There are nine new cases being reported in Waikato today. The Ministry of Health has not revealed where these cases are based or whether they are linked to the wider outbreak. Six new locations of interest were confirmed in Te Kūiti yesterday.

All five new Bay of Plenty cases are in the Tauranga area. Three are linked to previously reported cases and links with the two remaining cases are currently being investigated. All five cases are isolating at home. 

Finally, there is one new case in the Lakes DHB region. This case is in Rotorua and is linked to a previously reported case. They are isolating in managed accommodation with public health oversight.

RIP Vodafone TV

Vodafone is killing its streaming box Vodafone TV from September next year.

Launched in 2019, the set-top box provided access to linear TV, OnDemand and streaming services.

At the time of its launch, The Spinoff’s Duncan Greive lauded the product and called it “the last box you’ll ever buy for your telly”. Sadly, it’s soon going to be time to buy yet another thing to plug into your TV.

In a statement to the Herald, Vodafone’s Nicky Preston said Vodafone TV had been operating at a loss and did not reach enough customers to be sustainable.

Earlier this year, Sky teased plans to launch a similar product.

Another double digit day? Latest Covid numbers on the way at 1pm

After a string of sub-100 case days, I’m keeping my fingers crossed today’s Covid-19 numbers are also just in the double digits.

We’ll have the latest for you around 1pm when the Ministry of Health sends out its written update. Keep the live updates nice and refreshed and I’ll have all you need to know when it lands in my inbox.

Dreaming of Japan

Illustration: Ross Murray

A note on Japan’s familiar beauty from our partners Japan National Tourism Organization: As we begin to open up our country again, and the dreams of international travel become one step closer to reality, Japan waits for us once more. 

From Mt Fuji to Shikoku surfing, Japan’s natural beauty is reminiscent of our own slice of paradise. With its rich culture and famous foods, it deserves a spot at the top of your future travel list. Whether you’re a relaxer or an adventurer, there’s something for you in Japan.

If we haven’t convinced you yet, this piece, (with striking illustrations by Ross Murray) should do the trick.

Jacinda Ardern the world’s 34th most powerful woman

Forbes Magazine has listed prime minister Jacinda Ardern as the 34th most powerful woman in the world.

She comes in about 10 spots behind Oprah Winfrey but almost 40 spots ahead of Queen Elizabeth II, who is number 70.

Mackenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, takes the top spot followed by US vice president Kamala Harris, with French politician Christine Lagarde in number three.

Read the full list here

Rose Matafeo cracks list of best TV performances in 2021

New Zealand’s own Rose Matafeo has been named one of the best TV performers of the past year.

Variety put Matafeo on their best of the year list after her starring role in the BBC sitcom Starstruck, which she also wrote.

“Technically, ‘Starstruck’ is about an ordinary woman (Matafeo) who accidentally ends up sleeping with a handsome movie star (Nikesh Patel) whose charm proves too irresistible to ignore. And yet it’s Matafeo, who also created the series, whose charisma ends up burning up the screen with her effervescent performance,” wrote Variety’s Caroline Framke.

Others on the list include Succession’s Matthew Macfayden and Steve Martin for his performance in Only Murders in the Building.

Police to continue pause on use of facial recognition tech after independent review released

A surveillance camera at a metro station in Moscow, where facial recognition cameras are being used to show the spread of Covid-19 (Photo: Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

Police say they will not use facial recognition technology “without further detailed analysis”, following the release of an independent review commissioned in the wake of a controversial unapproved trial last year. 

The independent review, conducted by Nessa Lynch and Andrew Chen, set out 10 recommendations for police, including to continue to pause any development of live facial recognition technology (FRT), review its current collection and retention of facial images, uphold Te Tiriti in partnership with Māori, and “embed a culture of ethical use of data”. Police have accepted all 10 recommendations.

The review found “Māori are likely to be most impacted by any expanded use of FRT or implementation of live automated FRT” and “inappropriate or unjustified expansion of FRT, particularly live automated FRT, may have a negative effect on police-community relations”.

“There is very limited current evidence base for the efficacy and cost benefit of live automated FRT in policing,” said the review. “Any proposal for broadening of the use of FRT or implementation of live automated FRT must identify a clear problem to be solved that the proportionality and appropriateness of the technology use can be assessed against.”

CTU still backing fair pay agreements after Business NZ pulls support

The Council of Trade Unions said it will continue to back proposed fair pay agreements, after Business NZ this morning pulled the plug on its support.

Business NZ called compulsory FPAs “unlawful” and “out of touch” and said it would not help the government implement them.

But CTU president Richard Wagstaff said the proposed law would set minimum standards for pay and conditions. “Just as we have a minimum wage in New Zealand, fair pay agreements will provide a statutory minimum. There will also be an ability to vary agreements regionally, to reflect local economic conditions,” he said.

“All firms will still be required to negotiate individual or collective agreements with their staff and  in the process be free to negotiate with their employees for anything above this baseline. An FPA simply provides a minimum floor on core conditions to prevent the race to the bottom we currently experience.”

‘Historic day’: Smoking set to be outlawed for future generations

New Zealand is set to take major steps toward outlawing smoking.

A new law will make it illegal for anyone aged 14 or under to ever purchase tobacco. The appeal, addictiveness and availability of smoked tobacco products will also be lessened.

Associate health minister Ayesha Verrall said the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan will ensure young people never start smoking. “This is a historic day for the health of our people,” Verrall said. “Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand and causes one in four cancers. Smoking related harm is particularly prevalent in our Māori, Pacific and low income communities.”

The new rules will mean only smoked tobacco products containing very low-levels of nicotine can be sold, with a significant reduction in the number of shops who can sell them.

The changes will not come into effect immediately, giving retailers time to transition to a new business model.

“Alongside policies in the action plan that will become law, practical support measures for smokers are also being prioritised,” said Verrall. “Preventing people from starting to smoke and helping those who smoke to quit means we are covering both ends of the spectrum.

“We know it’s really tough to break the habit and some people who smoke will understandably need lots of support leading up to these changes taking effect.

A new Māori advisory taskforce will also be established, chaired by Tariana Turia and including fellow ex-MP Hone Harawira as a member.

Act leader David Seymour boycotts RNZ’s Morning Report


Act’s leader is boycotting RNZ’s flagship show Morning Report.

David Seymour told The Bulletin that he won’t appear on the weekday programme anymore, calling it rude, selective and dishonest with their coverage.

“After the umpteenth time that I went on their show out of a feeling of public duty and was belittled and abused with all their snarkiness, I just thought, I don’t need this,” he said.

“I really want to differentiate that really toxic and comically lilliputian culture of Morning Report from the rest of RNZ. I think Jane [Patterson, RNZ’s political editor] runs one of the best teams in the gallery, we love going on with Lisa on Checkpoint and we’ll go on various other shows”.

Seymour’s decision to stop appearing on Morning Report follows Jacinda Ardern’s move earlier this year to cancel her regular slot with Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking. At the time, Seymour called that “hubristic”.

“Jacinda Ardern will ultimately regret this escalating arrogance, the latest example being cancelling her weekly discussion with Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking,” said Seymour in March.

RNZ told The Spinoff it would continue to seek comment and interviews with Seymour and other Act MPs on matters of public interest.

A very big day for The Spinoff…

… because Justin Giovannetti won mask of the day.

Nē? celebrates hākari with Kasey and Kārena Bird

It’s the festive season, and this week Nē? is celebrating hākari: upholding our mana and the mana of guests through the sharing of food. This week’s manuhiri may have cooked for Harry and Meghan, but at home on the marae the aunties are still in charge – we’re joined by chefs, cookbook authors, Masterchef winners and proud daughters of Maketu, Kasey and Kārena Bird.

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.

GP caught on camera issuing medical certificates as vaccine exemptions

A registered GP has been caught on camera giving out medical certificates as exemptions to the Covid-19 vaccine.

A hidden camera investigation by Newshub found Dr Jonie Girouard, who runs a wellness clinic in Kaiapoi, issuing certificates to people who want to avoid the government’s vaccine mandates.

“I mean really this is horrible, horrible medicine,” Girouard said about the Pfizer jab to a waiting room of people wanting an exemption.

When approached for comment by Newshub’s Patrick Gower, the GP would not speak saying she does not want to talk to any journalists.

Watch the full investigation here

Since the report went to air last night, Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins has told RNZ that Girouard’s behaviour was unethical and he expected an investigation would take place.

Business NZ won’t implement ‘unlawful and unfair’ fair pay agreements

There’s some disagreement about the government’s plans to introduce fair pay agreements.

Business NZ has rejected a request to help introduce the flagship government policy, claiming they were written into the proposed system without agreeing to it.

Labour campaigned on bringing in national pay agreements at the last election and had made progress on it before delta struck. According to the MBIE website, the design of the new framework was created with “involvement from… Business NZ”.

But chief executive Kirk Hope said Business NZ is not prepared to be part of a scheme that is “unfair and out of touch” with modern ways of working.

“Compulsory FPAs are unlawful under both current domestic and international employment laws and are totally out of step with how we need to work in 2021,” he said. “They aren’t needed, they remove the flexibility and autonomy of modern workplaces and won’t improve pay and conditions for hardworking Kiwis.”

Hope said MBIE officials sent a letter during lockdown formally requesting Business NZ become the default bargaining party for businesses. That was followed a cabinet paper in May that wrote us into the proposed system without our agreement.

“After thoroughly reviewing the latest proposal, we’ve formally refused the government’s offer,” said Hope. “It’s wrong for us to be part of a scheme that will do more harm than good to businesses and employees.”

It means missing out on $250,000 of government funding, said Hope, which will still go to the Council of Trade Unions to act for employees effectively giving them a monopoly. “The workplace environment has changed dramatically in the last 18 months and more so in the past five years since FPAs were first tabled by this government,” added Hope. “We could not have responded to the Covid crisis in the workplace the way we have if this inflexible scheme had been in place.”

Hope said the government was attempting to centralise control in Wellington but should instead strengthen the current system to achieve better workplace relations.