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blog feb 11


Record 446 new Covid-19 cases nationwide

It’s Friday! Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for February 11. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. You can reach me on

Today’s headlines

Feb 11 2022

New Zealand jabs its 10 millionth Covid jab

Charles Muro, age 13, celebrates being inoculated in Hartford, Connecticut on May 13, 2021 (Photo: JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

Ten million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in New Zealand.

Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said the country reached the “exciting” milestone at around 2pm today. Uptake of the vaccine has surged in recent weeks thanks to those aged five to 11 receiving their first dose, along with boosters being made available to one million more New Zealanders last week.

(Photo: JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

“The number on its own tells a great story. But it’s what it signifies for the people in our country that’s the most important factor,” said Hipkins. “Ten million vaccines, including more than 1.7 million boosters, means our communities already have a good level of protection against omicron – with more to come.”

Every single district health board has now hit the 90% milestone for first doses, added Hipkins.

Police ditch batons at parliament as protest continues

Police at parliament will no longer be carrying batons.

Photos on social media began circulating today showing officers lined up in front of protesters carrying batons. Superintendent Corrie Parnell said that is no longer happening. “That was not in line with current approach and staff have now removed this equipment,” he said.

“Police continue to explore options to resolve the disruption to local businesses and allow free and safe movement around the city.”

Parnell said police at parliament are continuing to take a “measured approach” to the ongoing rally. But, he added that police are concerned by the “range of different causes and motivations” among the protest.

“Misinformation, particularly on social media, has been identified as an issue,” he said. “Some factions are actively promoting false advice about people’s rights and police powers, which is misleading and factually incorrect.

“For example, the use of a particular word or phrase by an individual will not impact the arrest of anyone involved in unlawful activity.”

Yesterday, around 120 protesters were arrested on the parliamentary precinct.

Watch: Sam Neill returns to the world of Jurassic Park

The first full trailer for Jurassic World: Dominion has been released today, teasing the return of Sam Neill’s Alan Grant.

It’s the first time the New Zealand actor has appeared in the Jurassic Park franchise since the third film was released in 2001.

Neil’s joined in the film, set for a June release after being delayed by Covid-19, by his original co-stars Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum.

446 new community Covid-19 cases

Image: Toby Morris

The number of new community Covid-19 cases has risen substantially overnight, with a record 446 registered today.

That’s 140 higher than yesterday’s total, which was also a pandemic high. Once again, the majority of new infections are in Auckland: 340.

There are also new cases in Northland (16), Waikato (48), Bay of Plenty (14), Lakes (13), Taranaki (one), Hutt Valley (seven), Capital and Coast (four) and Southern (three).

Another 32 cases have been detected at the border. There are now 23 people in hospital with Covid-19. None are in intensive care.

“The increase in cases today is a reminder that, as expected, the omicron variant is spreading in our communities as we have seen in other countries,” said the Ministry of Health in a statement. “The number of cases will continue to fluctuate from day to day, but our expectation is that cases will continue to increase in the coming weeks.”

The most important step you can take to prepare for omicron is getting your booster dose as soon as it is due, said the ministry. More than 50,000 booster doses were given, bringing the total doses administered so far to 1,772,914.

The country is now 95% fully vaccinated, according to the ministry.

“It is great to see that 43% of children in the 5 to 11 age group have already had their first dose,” the ministry said. “We want as many children as possible to be protected through vaccination.”

For more graphs and pandemic analysis, visit The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker here

The Friday Quiz!

The Friday News Quiz

It’s Friday which means it’s time to quiz! How closely have you been following the protests in Wellington? What about the Oscar nominations? Test your knowledge in The Spinoff’s acclaimed weekly quiz.

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Parliament protesters a ‘rent-a-crowd’, says National MP

Simon Bridges delivers his speech in the House, Budget 2020. (Photo: Getty Images)

National MP Simon Bridges has shown little sympathy for the remaining anti-mandate protesters on the parliament precinct.

He told Newshub’s AM that there was some “real extremism and violence” among the crowd. “There is definitely a rent-a-crowd aspect to this,” Bridges said. “They believe in anti-vax, in anti-mandate but there is also a kind of everything but the kitchen sink – a whole lot of random people who have just come along for the ride.”

Bridges did acknowledge that “some” protesters will have valid views.

Attorney-general David Parker, appearing alongside Bridges, called the protesters misguided and said they had fallen for “garbage” on social media. “The people obviously have the right to protest. I am a political activist and I have been protesting on the street since the 1970s, but we expect people to abide by the law, we expect the police to enforce it and how they do it is for them.”

Today is the fourth day of action outside parliament.

A threat to our identity: The impact of climate change on Māori

Zak Horomia in 2018 standing on the slash washed down from the hills into Uawa (Tolaga Bay) (Photo: Josie McClutchie)

A new report from our partners at Ngā Pae o te MāramatangaHe huringa āhuarangi, he huringa ao: a changing climate, a changing world, shows how climate change is affecting Māori communities. Produced with Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, the report brings together the existing analysis on the risks that face New Zealand through a whakaaro Māori lens, creating an important tool for whānau, iwi and hapū as they prepare and respond to climate change. It considers its effects on everything from Māori business to the preservation of tikanga Māori in the face of global warming. Read the full coverage of the report now on The Spinoff.

First look at Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series released

Galadriel, commander of the Northern Armies. (MATT GRACE/AMAZON STUDIOS.)

We’re still months away from a return to Middle Earth, but the Amazon PR machine is ramping up teasers for its forthcoming Lord of the Rings series.

Subtitled “The Rings of Power”, the multi-million dollar series is set to premiere on Amazon’s streaming service in September.

Vanity Fair’s scored an exclusive first look at the series, which was shot in New Zealand throughout 2020 and 2021, ahead of a trailer release this weekend. A second season, already green lit, will be produced entirely in the United Kingdom.

Check out the full gallery of new images on Vanity Fair’s website.

Galadriel, commander of the Northern Armies. (MATT GRACE/AMAZON STUDIOS.)

Two protesters arrested overnight for ‘alcohol-related behaviour’

Two protesters outside parliament were arrested overnight for “alcohol-related behaviour”, said police.

No other incidents occurred last night and around 100 protesters remain on the parliamentary precinct.

“Police continue to take a measured approach to the protesters, who are trespassing on the grounds of parliament and have been repeatedly asked to leave,” said superintendent Corrie Parnell. “This is an extremely difficult working environment for our frontline staff.”

Parnell said that police have been using “proportionate” force when dealing with protesters. “Images and videos often do not provide the full context of the protest activity and the situation police staff face,” he said.

Meanwhile, a number of vehicles parked illegally on Lambton Quay have been moved overnight.

Costco Auckland opening delayed

A short, but important, story from The Bulletin:

Covid has delayed Costco’s reopening plans, but the retailer promises the day will soon come.

A late August opening is now planned for New Zealand’s first Costco, the NZ Herald reports. However that could be delayed by any changes at the country’s border. Costco says it needs to bring in staff from overseas to train local workers and buy the needed supplies.

I’m still waiting on Ikea’s opening, which is planned for some time in the “next few years.”

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.

Act: Minimum wage rise is ‘nuts’

ACT leader David Seymour celebrates with his party on election night in Auckland. Photo: Greg Bowker/Getty Images

The Act Party has criticised the decision to increase the minimum wage by $1.20 an hour.

The legal minimum will rise to $21.20 from April 1, fulfilling an election pledge by Labour. But Act leader David Seymour called the move “nuts”.

“Fundamentally, Labour doesn’t know where wealth comes from,” he said.

The party’s small business spokesperson Chris Baillie said lumping costs onto businesses during Covid-19 restrictions would further “divide the economic pie”.

“Small businesses have been decimated by Covid-19,” said Baillie. “For the first time in almost a decade, businesses are closing at a faster rate than they’re opening. Since 2017, Labour has increased the minimum wage by 36%, but productivity gains to pay for it have been meagre.”

While National has not yet released a formal statement, the party’s finance spokesperson Simon Bridges also criticised the wage rise. “Today’s minimum wage increase is an admission by Labour that New Zealand has a cost of living crisis,” he wrote on Twitter.

The government said it cared about workers and raising the minimum wage was an example of this.

Minimum wage to rise from April

Ethnic minorities in Aotearoa are struggling with the rising cost of living. (Getty Images)

The minimum wage will rise from $20 to $21.20 from April 1 this year.

Workplace relations minister Michael Wood said the government was following through on its election pledge to support New Zealand workers. “With the arrival of omicron, we are once again calling on many of our frontline workers – such as cleaners, supermarket workers, and security guards – to keep the country running as the virus spreads and cases begin to increase,” he said.

“I think everyone agrees those contributing so much to our Covid response deserve a pay rise.”

The wage rise will impact around 300,000 workers, said Wood, and would see someone working full time hours earn an extra $48 a week – or $2,500 per year.

Today’s announcement was supported by the Council of Trade Unions, with president Richard Wagstaff calling minimum wage rises both “essential and desirable”.

Bernard Hickey on light rail’s heavy carbon footprint

This week on When the Facts Change, Bernard Hickey asks transport minister Michael Wood how the emission-heavy plan to build light rail between Auckland’s CBD and Auckland airport fits in with the government’s climate targets, and looks at how planners are incorporating things like emissions forecasts, shadow carbon prices and discount rates into their planning.

Follow When the Facts Change on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.

Also new this week on The Spinoff Podcast Network…

The latest episode of Nē? looks at the history of our urban Māori communities and how to maintain a connection to your whenua when living somewhere else. Guests Joe Pihema and Karen Leef discuss what “going home” means to them.

Follow Nē? on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.

Married at First Sight Australia is back and so too is The Real Pod‘s dedication to recapping every single episode. Join them as they relive all the bungled cake cuts, clay-on-face clangers and honesty box horrors of week one.

Follow The Real Pod on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.

And in case you missed it, this week’s episode of The Fold is a conversation with broadcaster Sean Plunket about, among other things, his new digital radio platform The Platform.

Follow The Fold on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.

Protesters wake to fourth day at parliament

(Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images)

There are tents pitched up on parliament’s front lawn this morning for a fourth day, despite the grounds being closed and all protesters officially trespassed.

Police arrested around 120 people yesterday, many for obstruction, after the anti-mandate rally turned violent.

According to the Herald, more protesters are expected to arrive at parliament today. “A whole lot of kids will come in today and they’ll see how happy and peaceful everyone is,” he said.

Live footage from this morning showed more tents, along with gazebos, being erected on the parliamentary precinct.

Wellington mayor Andy Foster told RNZ the situation was unprecedented but he had “full confidence” in the police.

Meanwhile, smaller protests have started in other parts of the country. Police reported a “small group” outside Picton police station yesterday, while a driver associated with a protest in Christchurch was arrested.