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blog upd dec 10


Covid death toll rises; 95 new delta cases

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for December 10, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Send me a message at

Today’s headlines

blog upd dec 10

Covid death toll rises; 95 new delta cases

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for December 10, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Send me a message at

Today’s headlines

Dec 10 2021

The best of Lord of the Rings Week

It’s Lord of the Rings Week on The Spinoff – in case you somehow didn’t notice – so I thought I’d wrap up some of my favourite pieces. There’s still two days to go, however, so make sure you pop over to The Spinoff over the weekend as well.

Reweti Kohere examines how Orlando Bloom’s famous “I 🖤 NZ” t-shirt brought worldwide attention – and no small amount of stress – to the cult streetwear brand Huffer.

Sam Brooks’ incredibly funny, and exhaustive, list demonstrates how glaringly obvious it is that Frodo and Sam were a couple. Iconic.

Ok, I wrote this one – but I also write these live updates so of course I’m going to put it here. It’s a solid read imo!

A massive deep dive by Mad Chapman into the ongoing costs associated with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Fascinating stuff.

This is how I feel whenever I introduce someone to Lord of the Rings and it hurts me. Chris Schulz’s 11-year-old son watches New Zealand’s defining film for the first time.

Image: Tina Tiller

We’re talking about elves, dwarves, cave trolls and sneaky little hobbitses for an entire week. Read the rest of our dedicated Lord of the Rings 20th anniversary coverage here.

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the week that’s been

It’s time for the triumphant return of The Spinoff’s acclaimed Friday News Quiz, also available on our Instagram page.

This week: how closely were you reading our Lord of the Rings Week content? Plus, have you been keeping up with politics? Who was papped shirtless getting their vaccine? And how much do you know about Mad Chapman’s thoughts on ice blocks!? Test your knowledge below.

The shape of the outbreak: NZ inches towards major vaccine milestone

There were 21,744 total vaccine doses administered yesterday, including 3,374 first doses and 9,225 second doses. To date, 94% of eligible people in New Zealand have had their first dose and 89% are fully vaccinated – pushing the country tantalisingly close to a major milestone.

Meanwhile, Whanganui and Tairāwhiti DHBs are close to reaching 90% partially vaccinated. As of this morning, Tairāwhiti has just 266 more people to get their first vaccination before reaching this important milestone and Whanganui has 325.

Here’s a look at how the outbreak’s tracking overall, on another sub-100 case day. For more, visit The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker page here.



Two more Covid-related deaths; 95 new delta cases

Two more people with Covid-19 have died in hospital.

The first person died at Middlemore Hospital. No further information has been provided at this stage due to privacy reasons. The second person died in Auckland Hospital after being admitted due to their Covid-19 infection. The case has been referred to the coroner.

“The Ministry would like to express its heartfelt condolences and sends its sympathies to the families of both of these people at this sad time,” said a statement.

New Zealand’s Covid death toll now sits at 46.

95 new community cases

There are 95 new community cases of Covid-19 today. They have been reported in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Lakes, Nelson-Tasman, and Canterbury. A Taranaki case will be added to tomorrow’s official tally.

A case previously under investigation in the Southern region has been classified as historical.

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has dropped to 56 with just four now in intensive care.

(Photo: LDR / Stephen Forbes)

Today’s case break-down

There are 75 new cases being reported in Auckland. Health and welfare providers are now supporting 3,014 people to isolate at home, including 802 cases.

In Waikato, there are 11 new cases. The locations of these cases have not been identified by the Ministry of Health however it said that three new locations of interest were confirmed in Te Kūiti and Hamilton yesterday. Health and welfare providers are supporting 101 people to isolate at home.

There are five new Bay of Plenty cases: four in the Tauranga area and one in the Western Bay of Plenty. Four are linked to previously reported cases and one is still being investigated.

The new Lakes case is in Rotorua and is a household contact of a previously reported case. They are isolating at home.

The Taranaki case is in Waitara. It was reported last night and is linked to two active cases in New Plymouth. Taranaki’s Public Health Unit has started case investigation work, however, early indications are that it is unlikely that there will be any locations of interest.

“We urge anyone in Waitara or the wider Taranaki region with symptoms – no matter how mild – to get tested, even if you’re vaccinated,” said the Ministry of Health.

Pop-up testing will be available at the Waitara War Memorial Hall on Memorial Place today. Hours will be extended at Taranaki Base Hospital’s testing centre from 8am-4pm.

There is one case to report today in Nelson-Tasman. They are linked to the larger Nelson cluster.

Finally, there is one new case to report in Christchurch today, bringing the total to six active cases in the region. They are directly linked to a case reported at the weekend. The case investigation is ongoing and this person is being transferred to an MIQ facility.

Help support The Spinoff

2021 will be remembered for the spread of delta, creating one of the most challenging stories – and commercial environments – in recent memory.It made us rely even more heavily on the support of our members. If you love what we do, please consider donating today.

Want another way to support us? Invite your friends and whānau to read The Spinoff and keep them across Aotearoa’s biggest stories.

Latest Covid numbers due at 1pm

What time is it? 12.53pm. What does that mean? The latest Covid numbers are due in under 10 minutes. They’ll be coming in a written statement today. Keep the live updates updated for all the latest.

NZ-filmed Netflix series cancelled after one season

Cowboy Bebop, the Netflix space western filmed largely in Auckland, has been cancelled by the streamer after just one season.

The show premiered on Netflix just three weeks ago to largely lukewarm reviews. It was generally expected to return for a second run owing to the popularity of the namesake anime, which is also available to watch on Netflix.

As noted by The Spinoff’s Sam Brooks, Cowboy Bebop showcased a number of notable Auckland locations during its 10 episodes, including the Skytower and Spark Arena.

Are these bounty hunters from Cowboy Bebop strolling through Auckland? Probably! (Photo: Netflix)

Government advised to have 5-11s vaccinated before traffic light move

The Ministry of Health wanted children aged 5-11 vaccinated before moving the country into the new traffic light framework.

A proactive release of cabinet documents today has revealed the ministry wanted 85% of every DHB to be fully vaccinated before the move, and 90% of adults nationwide.

The ministry also advised that a move out of the alert levels should only happen when the health system was prepared for a surge in Covid cases. In October, it said it wasn’t ready yet.

Earlier this week it was reported the ministry had wanted Auckland’s border to lift at the same time as the traffic light framework began, and for everywhere bar Auckland to start in the orange level.

Facebook owner responds to NZ media outlets wanting payment

Meta – the owner of Facebook and Instagram – has responded to a bid by local media outlets to negotiate payment for journalism shared on its social media platforms.

Publishers including The Spinoff, Stuff and the NZ Herald have asked the Commerce Commission for permission to collectively bargain with Facebook and fellow tech giant Google. It follows a similar deal being struck in Australia that’s seen substantial payments made to individual outlets.

In its submission to the Commerce Commision, Meta said comparisons with Australia were inappropriate. “The authorisations that were granted in Australia involve important differences that the [Commerce Commission] will need to take into account, and the fact that the competitive landscape for media in New Zealand is distinct,” it said.

News represented just 0.3% of Facebook news feed content, said Meta. “News is highly substitutable on Facebook. This was perhaps most apparent when we made a change to our news feed ranking algorithm in January 2018 to prioritise content from friends and family.”

Meta said it recognised the importance of “quality journalism” and claimed it supported this through the likes of its accelerator programme, which The Spinoff’s founder Duncan Greive has credited with bolstering its membership programme. Meta recently gave a further grant to The Spinoff to improve its technology.

Greive has praised the accelerator, and says he appreciates the grant, but told live updates that the deals done in Australia have to be replicated here. “These are closely linked economies, and some of the outlets have significant operations in Aotearoa. More than that, the same existential challenges threaten news here, and grants cannot be relied upon to sustainably fund journalism.”

Read more: NZ media seeks approval to collectively bargain with tech giants

Mark Richardson pledges he’ll stand for parliament (maybe)

Mark Richardson and Amanda Gillies bowed out from Newshub’s AM Show today after five years on the Three morning programme.

Richardson, a former cricketer turned sports broadcaster, will co-host a new afternoon news show on Today FM in 2022. Gillies will remain with Newshub as a national correspondent.

During his final appearance on the AM Show, Richardson said he’s looking forward to his new gig. However, he said he’ll only be there for two years after which he’s planning a parliamentary run in 2023.

Whether he was joking remains to be seen – but you can relive Richardson and Gillies’ emotional final show on The Spinoff now.

Thrilled (Screengrab: Three)

Harnessing the power of summer sun

(Image: Supplied)

A note on the power of the summer sun from our partners Lightforce: Whether you’re doing bombs, drinking beers or drilling putts, we rely on the sun to make it feel like summer. But there’s so much more this giant burning ball of hydrogen and helium could be doing for you and the environment. It’s time to go solar

In 2021 New Zealand burned the most coal to generate electricity in nearly a decade. Between 2000 and 2018, residential power prices increased by 48%. Solar panels are cheaper and better than ever and batteries that store the sun’s energy to use when we need it most have changed the game. 

So stop renting your power from the big electricity landlords and start putting those rays – and your roof – to use. Visit Lightforce to find out how you can let the sun in.

When the Facts Change: Why Adele’s new album took so long

Like the rest of the world, Aotearoa’s ports are clogged with containers, trucks, ships and growing shipping bills. But it’s not all because of Covid worker shortages and lockdowns. It turns out most of the problems stem from changes in what we’re doing on our couches at home and because logistics planners are pivoting from a just-in-time approach to just-in-case. 

In this week’s episode of When the Facts Change, Bernard Hickey looks at how the many weird economic effects of Covid are playing out through the world’s logistics chains, from frantic factories to empty store shelves and even Adele’s new album. To find out more, he talks to Chris Edwards, president of the Custom Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation, and professor Tava Olsen, director of the Centre of Supply Chain Management at the University of Auckland Business School.

Have a listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.

Broad political support for plan to phase out smoking

The National Party is broadly onboard with the government’s plans to stop future generations from smoking.

As part of the Smokefree 2025 goal, a future law will stop anyone currently aged 14 from ever being able to legally buy tobacco. Other nicotine products, such as vapes, won’t be outlawed but eventually tobacco will become entirely illegal in New Zealand.

Simon Bridges told Newshub’s the AM Show that he generally supported the idea. “We support harm reduction – we’ve got a good record in government, we support the intention of this,” he said. “I think we’ve got to see the detail. There is a bit of scepticism about the realism, the workability of it. But let’s see the detail. Let’s go in with an open mind.”

His leader Christopher Luxon was similarly supportive in principle, saying the party supported anything that would stop smoking.

One political party not onboard is Act. The party’s social development and children spokesperson Karen Chhour said it was prohibition and will create a black market. “No one wants to see young people smoke, but the reality is, some will. And Labour’s nanny state prohibition is going to cause problems,” she said.

Government minister David Parker said the plan was not prohibition, but regulation.

Harawira invites Seymour to help out at an iwi checkpoint

David Seymour has been invited to do a shift on a Covid-19 checkpoint once the Auckland borders reopen.

The Act Party leader’s been a major critic of iwi-operated checkpoints, this week comparing those volunteering at the checkpoints to “thugs”.

Taitokerau Border Control leader Hone Harawira told Waatea News that Seymour was welcome to come see for himself. “We’re trying to be as open and diverse as possible. If David Seymour wants to come and spend a day on our pou kōrero, he would be welcome,” said Harawira.

“Actually if he wants to spend a night, maybe from 12 o’clock at night to eight in the morning and do that shift with me, if he will do it with me I’m happy to say I will be there and we can work together on this.”

Harawira said the checkpoints have the support of all Taitokerau iwi, all northern district health boards, as well as community members.

Police this week announced the Northland checkpoints will be located on state highway one at Uretiti and on state highway 12 near Maungaturoto, focusing on northbound traffic only.

David Seymour and fellow Act MPs on Election night 2020 (Getty Images)

Unanimous support for final reading of self-identification bill

A law allowing people to change the sex on their birth certificates without the need for medical treatment or a court ruling passed unanimously in parliament yesterday.

The Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationship Registration Bill is a major victory for the transgender and non-binary community, making self-identification a far simpler process.

Internal affairs Minister Jan Tinetti said the passing of the law was a proud day for New Zealand. “The changes will… support young people to make their own decisions about how they are identified on their birth certificates. It gives them agency over their identity, which will promote their mental health and sense of wellbeing,” she said.

“The self-identification provisions come into force in 18 months’ time. This will give the government opportunity to consult with the rainbow community and ensure the legislation works to support the people at its heart.”

The bill was supported by all parties. National’s spokesperson for women, Nicola Grigg, described the law change as a “small liberalisation” of the law that will help many New Zealanders. “The current law is causing unnecessary distress for people for whom it is a really important matter,” she said. “I’m not convinced that it sets a broader precedent.”

The Green Party’s Elizabeth Kerekere said she was proud to support the bill. “It is with great pleasure that after generations of systemic discrimination, decades of community activism and many years of work in this house that we are passing this amendment,” she said.