blog april 11


New Defence Force deployment the largest to Europe in 26 years

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for Monday, April 11. I hope it’s lovely and sunny where you are as well! I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can get in touch with me on

The latest

  • New Zealand’s pandemic death toll has hit 500. An additional 11 Covid-related deaths were confirmed today.
  • Outgoing Labour MP Louisa Wall has claimed she was unwanted in caucus, blaming Jacinda Ardern.
  • Jacinda Ardern will lead a trade trip to Japan and Singapore next week as the government hopes to reconnect NZ with the world.
  • The PM will front her regular post-cabinet press conference at 4pm.
blog april 11

New Defence Force deployment the largest to Europe in 26 years

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for Monday, April 11. I hope it’s lovely and sunny where you are as well! I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can get in touch with me on

The latest

  • New Zealand’s pandemic death toll has hit 500. An additional 11 Covid-related deaths were confirmed today.
  • Outgoing Labour MP Louisa Wall has claimed she was unwanted in caucus, blaming Jacinda Ardern.
  • Jacinda Ardern will lead a trade trip to Japan and Singapore next week as the government hopes to reconnect NZ with the world.
  • The PM will front her regular post-cabinet press conference at 4pm.
Apr 11 2022

Dunedin mayor pleased with peaceful end to Octagon occupation

Aaron Hawkins

Dunedin’s mayor has thanked a group of anti-mandate protesters for packing up their tents and moving out of the Octagon.

The group of demonstrators had been pitched up in the city for two months, initially as a show of support for the much larger occupation outside parliament. The council gave them until midday today to vacate.

Aaron Hawkins told The Spinoff the protesters were free to continue protesting, however they could not camp out. “The Dunedin community has been very patient and it’s great all residents can now freely access this reserve area,” he said. “Our contractors will start remediation of the area today.”

In contrast to the events outside parliament over a month ago, the dissolution of the Dunedin camp today did not end in violence. “I’m pleased we’ve avoided any form of confrontation in the heart of our city and that the issue has been peacefully resolved,” said Hawkins, who thanked the police for their support.

Defence Force aircraft and 50 staff deployed to support Ukraine

Jacinda Ardern. (Photo by Mark Mitchell-Pool/Getty Images)

The Defence Force will send a C-130 Hercules aircraft, along with 50 personnel, to Europe to help with the transportation and distribution of donated military aid to Ukraine.

It’s the largest Defence Force deployment into Europe in 26 years and one Ardern called a “significant and meaningful contribution” to the war efforts.

Speaking at parliament, prime minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that the Defence Force team have not been asked to enter Ukraine itself, instead visiting a donor coordination centre that has been set up in Germany. Over the next two months, the C-130 will join a “chain of military aircrafts from partner nations”.

The aircraft will depart on Wednesday.

Eight New Zealand logistics specialists will also be based in Germany, said Ardern.

In addition, Ardern said that an extra $13 million will be contributed to military, legal and human rights support. Included in this is a $500,000 contribution to the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court, along with $7.5 million for weapons and ammunition procurement by the UK.

“Our support is to assist the Ukraine Army to repel a brutal Russian invasion because peace in the region of Europe is essential for global stability,” Ardern said. “Such a blatant attack on a country’s sovereignty is a threat to all of us and that’s why we too have a role to play.”

New Zealand will continue to answer to the calls of Ukraine, said Ardern, with regular reviews of how we can keep making the greatest difference. Asked whether today’s announcement was enough to support efforts in Ukraine, Ardern said this was New Zealand “playing our part”.

On the question of whether New Zealand will send anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, Ardern said these would offer “about five minutes of contribution to the war”. New Zealand has made its most meaningful contribution through supporting the global effort.

Watch: PM set to reveal further help for Ukraine

Jacinda Ardern. (Photo by Mark Mitchell-Pool/Getty Images)

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern is set to front her regular 4pm Monday press conference where it’s anticipated further relief for Ukraine will be offered. She’ll be joined by defence minister Peeni Henare.

The PM could also be questioned further on comments made by outgoing Labour MP Louisa Wall over the weekend.

You can tune in below or we’ll have live coverage from 4pm.


Abuse in Care inquiry expanded to include Gloriavale, more faiths

The second phase of the Faith-based Redress hearings that are part of the Royal Commission Inquiry into State Abuse Care are due to wrap this weekend. (Photo: Getty)

The Abuse in Care inquiry will be extended to include additional faiths and religious communities, including Gloriavale.

The investigation, now known as the “Protestant and Other Faiths Investigation”, will include evidence from the Methodist, Presbyterian and Salvation Army faiths along with the communities of Gloriavale, the Exclusive Brethren and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

A statement from the Royal Commission said the inquiry is being extended to recognise the increased numbers of survivors from these faiths and their institutions who have disclosed abuse.

“We continue to ask survivors to come forward,” said a spokesperson. “Further evidence gathered will add to our existing evidence base and understanding of abuse in these faiths, and findings about them will be included in the Royal Commission’s Interim Faith report.”

The decision to include the closed community groups will mean the inquiry can examine abuse in faith contexts that are usually closed to the wider community, the spokesperson said. The Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and Salvation Army faiths engaged in care provision throughout the Royal Commission’s 1950 to 1999 period of inquiry.

The Royal Commission is due to deliver its final report in June next year.

‘Anti-mandate’ protesters leave Dunedin after two month occupation

Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

Anti-mandate protesters in Dunedin have packed up their tents after two months camped up in the Octagon.

The group of demonstrators been given until midday today to leave after being informed their presence breached local by-laws.

“Your occupation and use of this reserve area, including putting up tents, lighting fires and erecting signs are offences under the Reserves Act 1977 and are in breach of the City’s Reserves and Beaches Bylaw,” read a letter from the council’s chief executive.

“These are offences punishable on conviction in the District Court to fines and can result in a criminal conviction being entered against you individually.”

The protesters, of which around 10 remained today, first pitched up their camp on February 11 in support of the larger occupation outside parliament. According to the Herald, a stationwagon, a van with horse float, some tables and boxes were all that remained at the site this morning.

Dunedin’s mayor Aaron Hawkins has been approached for comment.

Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

Covid-19 latest: Death toll hits 500, now 640 in hospital, 7,592 new cases

Image: Toby Morris

Another 11 people with Covid-19 have died, bringing New Zealand’s pandemic death toll to exactly 500.

The deaths being reported today include 10 people who have died in the past three days and one person who died 12 days ago. The seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is 14.

Of the new deaths, three people were from the Auckland region, three from Waikato, one from Hawke’s Bay, one from Taranaki, one from the Wellington region, and two from Canterbury. Two were aged in their 60s, three in their 70s, three in their 80s, and three over 90. Five were female and six were male.

There are now 640 people in hospital with Covid-19, including 23 in intensive care.

Another 7,592 cases have been confirmed in the community. “While overall the number of community cases is trending downwards, please continue to follow public health advice to stay at home, away from school or work if you are feeling unwell and, when not at home, use a mask in indoor settings to protect yourself and others,” the Ministry of Health said in its 1pm statement.

The seven-day rolling average of case numbers continues to decline. It’s now sitting 10,169 while last Monday it was 13,218. Remember, however, that the number of reported Covid cases is typically lower over the weekend.

On the vaccine front, 17 people got their first jab yesterday! However, the number of new booster doses being administered remains low with just 860 give out yesterday. Just under 73% of the eligible population has received a booster dose compared with 95.2% who have been double jabbed.

“Vaccination remains our best defence against Covid-19 and a booster, in addition to first and second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, will give you greater immunity against omicron and severe illness,” said the ministry. “There is a much lower risk of being hospitalised if you are up to date with your vaccinations, which, for omicron, includes a third or booster dose if eligible.”

Booster doses are now on offer to those aged 16 and 17 after the eligible age was lowered last week.

Dunedin bar celebrates ‘biggest week’ of the year after keeping vax passes


Dunedin bar Woof! is celebrating its biggest week of the year despite facing online abuse and harassment over its vaccine pass policy.

It was announced last week that despite the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, Woof! would continue to require vaccine passes for entry. That led to a wave of negative reviews and homophobic abuse online.

The bar’s co-owner Dudley Benson, who last week attempted to track down some of the online harassers, said the negative reviews have continued to pour in. But he said on Twitter that this week has been the bar’s biggest of 2022.

As for the negative reviews, Benson said Google was removing them “every day or so” and thanked the bar’s followers for flagging them.

Benson said that of the 1,232 groups through, only one person did not want to show a vaccine pass.

He blamed most of the online abuse on overseas trolls, claiming people in New Zealand had been largely supportive but that the homophobia “ramped up” once a viral tweet reached the United States. “Many seemed threatened by my nail polish,” he said.

How a group of young friends ended up under state surveillance

(Image: Supplied)

From our partners at North & South: Enemies of the state? On the cover of this month’s North & South, the fascinating story of how a group of Wellington friends ended up under lifelong surveillance — for the ‘crime’ of being young, educated thinkers.

Also in this issue: How we measure happiness; Lizzie Marvelly writes of the traumatic birth club no mother wants to join; and where our galleries get their collections — sometimes the story of how a piece was acquired can be as interesting as the work itself.

Plus: politics, books, food, wine and more in the May issue of North & South, on sale now nationwide.

Don’t expect ‘fireworks’ in Louisa Wall’s valedictory speech

Labour MP Louisa Wall takes part in the Auckland Pride Parade along Ponsonby Road in 2014 (Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images, Image Design: Tina Tiller)

Louisa Wall says her valedictory speech on Thursday won’t be full of bombshells.

The outgoing MP has been on the media trail over the weekend, throwing a few critical remarks at prime minister Jacinda Ardern along the way.

Asked by Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking what we can expect from her valedictory, Wall said there won’t be any fireworks. “It will be full of the people I’ve worked with,” she said. “None of this could have happened without the people that have been the champions, like Dame Margaret Sparrow who’s coming to my valedictory.”

Being a voice for different communities had been “the most important aspect” of being an MP, said Wall, who advised any prospective politicians to “decide really early” why they want to be in parliament. “Go in with your eyes wide open,” she said.

The making of a conspiracist leader

Outdoors Party Co-Leader Sue Grey addresses a rally at Parliament on 3 June 2020, attended by people protesting Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown measures, 1080 pesticide use, the rollout of 5G and other conspiracy theories. Photo by Lynn Grievson/Newsroom/Getty

From The Bulletin, our daily curated look at the top stories from around NZ.

On Stuff is an excellent profile of the anti-vax activist and conspiracy theorist Sue Grey. Kirsty Johnston traces Grey’s progress from crusading anti-corruption lawyer to hero of the so-called “freedom” movement and guest of far-right Counterspin presenter Kelvyn Alp, who has advocated for the hanging of Jacinda Ardern. Grey has “rockstar status” in the conspiracy world, media and misinformation expert Nick Wilson told Johnston. “It’s interesting because all of these groups are constantly having spats, arguing with each other, and yet she slips in and out of them. She’s a chameleon.”

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.

Outdoors Party Co-Leader Sue Grey addresses a rally at Parliament on 3 June 2020. Photo by Lynn Grievson/Newsroom/Getty

Ardern says her relationship with Louisa Wall was ‘fine’

wall ardern

Jacinda Ardern says her relationship with outgoing Labour MP Louisa Wall was “fine”.

Wall is set to leave parliament this week for a new gender equality ambassador position with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But, before she leaves politics for good, Wall has taken the opportunity to deliver some parting shots against Ardern and her team.

Wall went into detail with the Herald over the weekend about the “heartbreaking” time when she was challenged for her Manurewa electorate seat ahead of the 2020 election. Then, yesterday, she told TVNZ’s Q&A about how she had fallen out with Ardern.

“I think there were messages, probably not so subtle, that it wasn’t just she didn’t want me in her cabinet. She was obviously very clear that she didn’t want me in her caucus,” Wall said.

Responding to this claims today, PM Ardern denied that Wall had been mistreated by Labour. “Louisa had a strong list position in the last election, that came by virtue of the parliament,” she told TVNZ Breakfast. “She is well supported and I wish her all the best.” Ardern said she relationship with Wall was “fine” but didn’t go into detail.

On RNZ, Ardern said she “couldn’t comment” on how Wall felt, but said she did not wish to detract from the MP’s 14-year political career. “As the leader of the party it is my job to make sure we have an inclusive team, a team that is united, and I feel very strongly that we do.”

Ardern would not comment directly on whether she wanted Wall in her caucus or not. “I’ll take a different view to some of the statements she has made, but I don’t want to get into dissecting that because I think it detracts from what Louisa has done.”

Wall had always been treated with kindness, said Ardern, and noted her “strong list position” at the last election.

PM to lead trade trip to Singapore and Japan

(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

International travel is well and truly back – including for the prime minister.

Jacinda Ardern will lead a trade delegation to Singapore and Japan next week, as part of the government’s effort to reconnect New Zealand with the world after Covid-19.

Along for the trip will be trade minister Damien O’Connor and 13 leaders from the business community.

“This trade delegation will include impressive representatives from New Zealand’s dairy, food and beverage, technology, tourism and renewable energy sectors, with a focus on promoting sustainability and innovation,” said Ardern. 

“I will be highlighting New Zealand’s reopening for tourism and education, as well as supporting our businesses as they rebuild and grow connections with partners and customers in these two significant markets.”

Ardern will meet with both her Singapore and Japan counterparts, prime ministers Lee Hsien Loong and Fumio Kishida, along with addressing “key Singapore entrepreneurs and business leaders” and the Japan-New Zealand Business Council.

“It’s just over two years since Covid-19 hit New Zealand’s shores, prompting us to close the borders to protect lives and livelihoods. Now we must continue to reconnect with the world and I look forward to supporting our businesses across a range of sectors, and seeing my political counterparts in person,” Ardern said.

The PM departs on April 18 and will return on April 24.