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Health officials reassured by drop in Covid cases

Welcome to a brand new year of The Spinoff’s live updates. This week we’re still on summer hours and will be bringing you a curated selection of breaking news and other top stories. Normal service resumes next week. Need to get in touch? I’m on

summer live updates 2

Health officials reassured by drop in Covid cases

Welcome to a brand new year of The Spinoff’s live updates. This week we’re still on summer hours and will be bringing you a curated selection of breaking news and other top stories. Normal service resumes next week. Need to get in touch? I’m on

Jan 11 2022

Auckland music festival, Taupō hotel, latest Covid locations of interest

An Auckland music festival hosted over the weekend has been identified as a Covid-19 location of interest. 

The Plane Sailing Music Festival at Victoria Park was attended by a Covid case between 4pm and 9.30pm on Saturday. Attendees are asked to self-monitor for symptoms.

Meanwhile, a series of new locations of interest have been confirmed in Taupō. They include the Hilton Hotel and a number of eateries, including Subway, Noodle Canteen and a Robert Harris cafe.

Te Tii Marae confirms plans to host in-person Waitangi commemoration

Te Tii Marae has confirmed it will host Waitangi Day commemorations next month.

It follows the decision by the Waitangi National Trust to cancel the official proceedings at the Upper Treaty Grounds over concerns around the pandemic.

According to 1News’ Maiki Sherman, that will make the three-day event at Te Tii the only in-person event at Waitangi on our national day.

Political leaders have not yet been invited to attend, however, according to Sherman, the prime minister was already expected to visit the marae next month.

Leonardo DiCaprio mentioned NZ!

Or at least his social media person did. Still, we love to see it.

What films were people watching in 2021?

Social media site Letterboxd, a platform entirely dedicated to film, has released its recap of 2021 – revealing the most popular films according to its more than three million users.

Based out of Auckland, the website allows users to rate, review, discuss and share opinions on movies. During the pandemic era, its popularity has taken off.

According to its new “2021 in review” page, Marvel blockbuster Spider-Man: No Way Home was the highest rated overall film, with awards contenders Dune, C’mon C’mon and Licorice Pizza all cracking the top 10.

Peter Jackson’s eight-hour Disney+ doco about The Beatles was the highest rated documentary miniseries, while Bo Burnham’s Inside was the highest rated comedy special. West Side Story, directed by Steven Spielberg, was the top rated musical (which is a crime considering In The Heights was also released in 2021).

Overall, Dune was deemed the most popular movie of the year based on the amount of activity it received on the platform.

For more, visit the Letterboxd 2021 in review here.

The rise of Covid at our border

While the number of community cases of Covid-19 has been declining – with just 14 recorded today – the number of cases detected at the border is on the up. There may have just been nine confirmed today but, as you can see below, the start of 2022 has seen a sudden jump in Covid cases in managed isolation.

Most people testing positive upon arrival into the country will have contracted the omicron variant.

For more data visualisations of our Covid response, visit The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker page here.

Just 14 new community Covid-19 cases; booster doses hit record

There are just 14 new community cases of Covid-19, along with nine reported at the border since yesterday.

The low number of cases has been labelled “welcome news” by the Ministry of Health who say it is reassuring given the increase in testing numbers after the new year break.

“However, we know case numbers can be quite variable from day to day and it remains likely that there will be a rise again in coming days,” said today’s ministry statement. “The ministry would urge the public to remain vigilant, including scanning, wearing masks where required, and most importantly ensuring they are fully vaccinated, including people who are now eligible for a booster dose.”

A record number of booster vaccine doses were administered in the past 24 hours: 47,796. A total of 548,733 booster doses have now been given since they became available in late November 2021, representing more than 36% of those who are currently eligible.

“Boosters are strongly recommended for anyone over 18 who has had their second dose at least four months ago,” said the ministry.

There are currently 34 people in hospital with Covid-19, with two in intensive care.

Today’s case details

There are nine cases to report in Auckland today. Health and welfare providers are now supporting 916 people in the region to isolate at home, including 189 cases.

There are two new case to report in Northland, one of which was announced yesterday. The new case is in Whangārei, with investigations into links to previously reported cases ongoing.

There are two new cases in the Waikato today, with one unlinked to a previously reported case. One is from Coromandel and one is from Te Aroha.

There is one new case to report in Wellington. This case is linked to the Hidden Valley Festival in Matakana, north of Auckland. Case investigations are ongoing, and locations of interest will be added as they are confirmed.

There are two new cases to announce in the Canterbury region. These cases were notified after the daily cut-off time and will be officially be added to tomorrow’s numbers. The new cases are in South Canterbury and Canterbury.

The South Canterbury case remains under investigation but shares a location of interest with a previously reported case. The Canterbury case remains under investigation for any link to previously reported cases.

2021 was NZ’s hottest year on record

Yup, it wasn’t just you. 2021 was officially the country’s warmest on record.

As Stuff reports, Niwa scientists have revealed New Zealand registered an average temperature of 13.56 degrees – almost an entire degree above the average from 1981 to 2010. That makes 2021 the warmest since records began over 100 years ago, besting the previous hottest year of 2016.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Auckland was the warmest main centre with a 12-month average of 16.5 degrees (it felt a lot worse than that during lockdown, to be honest). Wellington was the wettest, while Tauranga was the sunniest.

Luke Harrington, a senior research fellow in climate science at Victoria University, told the Science Media Centre that 16 locations experienced some of their hottest ever days last year. “That about sums up climate change in New Zealand: in the future, every cold record broken will be accompanied by another 5-10 hot records, if not more,” he said. “Things will only improve if we reduce our gross carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions. Permanently, rapidly, and immediately.”

A look ahead: traffic light settings to be reviewed next week

Next Monday is an important day – and not just because The Bulletin returns and the live updates resume regular, full day operation. No, it’s also the day when cabinet next meets to discuss the current Covid-19 restrictions and will reveal any changes being made.

Here’s a little look ahead to what’s happening on Monday.

The traffic light settings are being reviewed

  • Since December 30, the entire country (except Northland) has been in the orange setting of the traffic light system. That includes Auckland, the epicentre of the delta outbreak and the arrival point for most international travellers, and the South Island, which has had very limited exposure to Covid-19 across the pandemic.
  • On Monday, the existing settings will be reviewed and it’s possible that a move to the green setting (the closest we can get to “normal” life) could be implemented for parts of the country. The South Island has been calling for a shift to green since the framework was first introduced. It’s possible vaccination rates in Northland could see the region move out of the red.
  • However, the rise of omicron at the border could mean restrictions on gatherings are still required, especially in areas with international airports or MIQ facilities. Under orange, large events where vaccine passes are not used can only be attended by 50 people.

Auckland’s border officially drops

  • Since December 15, travellers out of Auckland have been required to have proof of vaccination or a valid negative test result. Police claimed they would be operating a spot check system in order to prevent unvaccinated travellers (or those without a negative test result) from leaving the city. Anecdotal reports would suggest a fairly limited police presence, particularly on the southern border.
  • Were you stopped by police and asked to show your vaccine pass? Send me a message. I want to know more!

Vaccination rollout begins for ages 5-11

  • Monday will also see our vaccine rollout expand to include children aged 5-11.
  • Booster bookings will also be opened up to anyone who has been fully vaccinated for at least four months (you can already book in over the phone or simply walk in to a clinic or pharmacy, but online bookings are only accessible for those who have waited at least six months since their second Pfizer dose).
Image: Tina Tiller

Protesters from Brian Tamaki group billed $14k for ‘traffic management’

Protesters from a group founded by Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki have been billed thousands of dollars for traffic management costs in Christchurch.

The Freedom and Rights Coalition gathered for three protests in the city at the end of last year and, most recently, held a large event at Hagley Park over the weekend.

As Stuff reports, the group has been charged $14,000 for traffic management costs after breaching bylaws associated with gatherings. Locals have also complained of “intimidating and noisy behaviour” by the protestors.

Event organiser and Destiny Church pastor Derek Tait told Stuff he was unaware of the bylaws that had been breached.

National MP reprimanded after posing with anti-vaccination group

A National MP has been reprimanded by her party’s leader after posing for a photo with members of the group Voices for Freedom – the second time she has been seen alongside anti-lockdown protesters.

Harete Hipango shared the photo to her social media and appeared to sympathise with the group’s anti-vaccine messaging. The MP can be seen smiling in front of people holding signs that criticise the vaccination rollout, including one that reads: “It’s not about health, it’s about control”.

(Image: Harete Hipango)

It’s not the first time Hipango has been photographed alongside members of the controversial protest group. In November, she was spotted by reporters at a protest in Whanganui but later said she thought the protest was about something else.

The Herald’s David Fisher spoke with Voices for Freedom member Rebecca Biggs, who claimed Hipango was in support of some of the protesters’ principles. “[Hipango] believes in freedom of choice and freedom in general,” said Biggs, who alleged Hipango was aware she would face backlash for sharing the photo online. “She knew what the outcome was going to be with her [Facebook] post but she put it up anyway.”

Fisher’s reporting includes other social media comments made by Hipango that appear to accuse the government of using Covid-19 to control the population. Jacinda Ardern and the government had “severely imposed under urgency oppressive powers and incursions on NZ and NZers under the mask of Covid”, wrote Hipango. History would “in time reveal the sinister manipulation and abuses of power that have occurred during these Covid times”.

Hipango would not speak to Fisher nor Webworm writer David Farrier, who compared the National MP to American politician Marjorie Taylor Green. However, Hipango did release a statement to Newshub. “I have taken down the Facebook post I made earlier today – it has been pointed out to me that it could convey an anti-vaccination message which was never my intention,” she said. “I am vaccinated, and like the rest of the National Party I strongly support vaccination for our whānau and communities.”

National Party leader Christopher Luxon added that he did not support Hipango posting photos that could be interpreted as anti-vaccination. “Over the weekend I had a discussion with Harete Hipango underscoring my strong expectation that National MPs do not make posts that could be construed as anti-vaccination, regardless of whether that was the intent of the post,” said Luxon.

“Harete has given me her assurance that this won’t happen going forward. I am strongly supportive of vaccination, as is the National Party. I encourage everyone to take that step as the best protection, for themselves and their family, against Covid.”