blog april 12


OEs are back as exodus of New Zealanders expected

Hello it’s Tuesday April 12 and this is The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Reach me on

The latest

  • Covid-19 update: 16 more deaths, 622 in hospital, 11,063 new cases.
  • A group of local media, including The Spinoff, have been given provisional approval to enter bargaining with Meta and Google over how news content appears on each platform.
  • OEs are back: 50,000 NZers expected to leave the country this year
blog april 12

OEs are back as exodus of New Zealanders expected

Hello it’s Tuesday April 12 and this is The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Reach me on

The latest

  • Covid-19 update: 16 more deaths, 622 in hospital, 11,063 new cases.
  • A group of local media, including The Spinoff, have been given provisional approval to enter bargaining with Meta and Google over how news content appears on each platform.
  • OEs are back: 50,000 NZers expected to leave the country this year
Apr 12 2022

Holy shit, butter is $4 at The Warehouse

(The Warehouse)

I think we pretty much all accept that we’re going through some sort of “cost of living crisis” as everything becomes more and more expensive almost daily.

But that reality does not seem to exist at The Warehouse, with the low price retailer today proudly advertising $4 blocks of Tararua butter on its social media.

“You butter believe it,” wrote The Warehouse, using a cheap pun to advertise its cheap block of spreadable gold.

For comparison, that same block of Tararua butter would go for $7.30 at Countdown, while the cheapest equivalent block at New World was $5.79.

Grab a hot cross bun and slather like crazy.

OEs are back: 50,000 NZers expected to leave the country this year

Air New Zealand flight NZ1942 touches down at Auckland Airport after evacuating almost 200 people from Wuhan, China. (Photo by Dean Purcell-Pool/Getty Images)

With the borders reopening and Covid-19 travel restrictions easing, it’s estimated 50,000 New Zealanders will leave the country over the next year.

The estimate comes from a paper given to immigration minister Kris Faafoi by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. There is some flexibility within that estimate, however. “The number could be higher if pent up overseas experience (OE) demand is realised over the next year,” said the paper. “Or it could be less to the extent that New Zealanders delay their emigration plans until the international context settles.”

The Act Party has blamed the exodus of New Zealanders on the growing cost of living. “By locking the economy down and borrowing $50 billion [the government has] left us with a mountain of debt and rising prices,” said leader David Seymour. “Kiwis are finding it difficult to make ends meet and are heading offshore for a better chance of getting ahead in life.”

Asked about the possible flood of New Zealanders heading abroad during today’s question time, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said it is part of the history of the country for people to travel abroad for an OE. “We’ve had forecast… that over the coming years we’re likely to have net migration increase, so while New Zealanders may come and go the overall impact’s likely to be an increase.”

Around 15 anti-vax protesters gather outside Ministry of Health

Protesters outside the MOH (Image / Screenshot)

A small group of anti-vaccination protesters have gathered outside the Ministry of Health, while director general of health Ashley Bloomfield hosted today’s 1pm Covid briefing.

A livestream on social media shows around 15 people passing around a megaphone and taking turns to “ask questions” to the ministry.

The small protest, linked to a planned 14 day anti-vaccination demonstration in Wellington, follows the news last night that a person had died after having the Covid-19 vaccine, the third death since the vaccine rollout began. There have so far been 11 million doses of the vaccine administered in New Zealand.

One of the speakers at the small protest questioned why the government was determined to roll out the vaccine as opposed to other so-called Covid treatments. “Why can meth get through the border but ivermectin, which can save lives, can’t?” they said. Ivermectin is not a treatment for Covid-19.

Protesters outside the MOH (Image / Screenshot)

Another speaker labelled the vaccine rollout a “brainwashing campaign” and suggested the Ministry of Health change its name to “Ministry of Pfizer Marketing Department”.

“Who’s getting paid by Pfizer. Is it you?” said another speaker while addressing the ministry buildings. “They seem to be getting paid a lot of money.” He later questioned why it was now socially acceptable to say “fuck” in public but not to say the vaccine was causing health problems. Medsafe says the protective benefits of vaccination against Covid-19 far outweigh the potential risks of vaccination.

Ashley Bloomfield was questioned about the small gathering during today’s health briefing. “I haven’t seen them yet, if it’s a small group that’s fine,” he said. “People have a range of views they might want to express. I’ve been incredibly heartened throughout the pandemic by the level of support that the vast majority of New Zealanders have provided for our efforts.”

Covid-19 update: 16 more deaths, 622 in hospital, 11,063 new cases

Image: Toby Morris

There have been 16 more deaths linked to our Covid-19 outbreak, bringing the overall reported death count up to 516.

Of these, six people were from the Auckland region, one was from Waikato, two were from Whanganui, one was from MidCentral, three were from the Wellington region, two were from Canterbury and one was from Southern. One person was aged in their 30s, two were aged in their 50s, three in their 70s, six in their 80s, and four were over 90. Five were female and 11 were male.

Speaking from the Ministry of Health, Ashley Bloomfield said the number of hospitalisations has dropped to 622 with 23 people now in intensive care. “The seriousness of Covid-19, even the omicron variant, remains clear,” said Bloomfield.

We are seeing a drop of hospitalised cases nationwide, said Bloomfield, and new hospital admissions are also trending downwards. Only about 20 cases a day were admitted in Auckland over the weekend – “but there is a long tail of hospitalisations in the Auckland region”.

There are 11,063 new community cases. “This is an increase on what we saw over the weekend… but not unexpected,” said Bloomfield. “The number we focus on is the rolling seven day average which is 9,731.” It’s the first time the rolling average has been been below 10,000 “for some time”, said Bloomfield, and it’s 3,000 lower than a week ago.

Case rates per 1,000 have fallen from 18.6 to 14.3 – a 23% drop. The northern region now has the lowest case rate and it’s slowly declining in all the other regions. Tairāwhiti reached 45 cases per 1,000 at its peak, the highest rate of any region.

The number of reported community cases is expected to continue to fluctuate day-to-day and is usually lower over the weekend with less reporting of results and testing, said the ministry in its 1pm statement.

“There are three actions that everyone can do to help protect themselves and others. Firstly, be up to date with vaccinations, including a booster if you’ve not yet had one. Secondly, wear a mask. Masks are still required in many indoor settings. A good rule of thumb is to wear a mask indoors whenever you’re not at home. And thirdly – stay home and avoid others if you’re unwell.”

The 11 millionth Covid-19 vaccination was administered yesterday in New Zealand. The ministry said this represented “another significant milestone” for the vaccine rollout.

Asked about a recent suspected vaccine-related death in New Zealand, Bloomfield said: “The family didn’t want this unfortunate and very sad death to in any way put people off from being vaccinated or be used by groups to undermine vaccination efforts in New Zealand.” The person who died was a teenager.

Bloomfield said there was surveillance testing in place to try and detect any cases of the “XE” variant of Covid-19 at the border. No cases have so far been registered through genomic testing.

Watch: Bloomfield to give Covid update ahead of traffic light review

Dr Ashley Bloomfield speaking at an August 13 news conference (Getty Images)

Ashley Bloomfield is set to front today’s 1pm Covid-19 briefing. He’ll be joined by the Ministry of Health’s chief science advisor Dr Ian Town.

It’s the final Covid briefing ahead of tomorrow’s traffic light review, with members of cabinet set to meet in the morning to discuss a possible shift to the orange setting.

You can tune in below or we’ll have all the key details from 1pm.



A note from deputy editor Alice Neville

While most vaccine mandates have ended and the occupiers have left parliament grounds, the story is far from over. As Covid continues to spread, so does mis- and disinformation, which makes fact-based and level-headed journalism more important than ever. We’re keeping a close watch on this ongoing story, from the inadequate regulation of disturbing online content, to those trying to turn the parliament occupation fury into a political force, to the next target of the protest ringleaders.

But we can’t do this – or the award-winning collaborations between Toby Morris and Siouxsie Wiles, painstakingly, sensitively reported investigations or up-to-the-minute live updates – without your support. As we continue to struggle against commercial pressures, contributions from our members are more critical than ever.

If you want to support what we do, please consider becoming a member today. Donate now.

‘We’re taking power back’: Greens launch inquiry into tertiary wellbeing

Chlöe Swarbrick (Photo: Benjamin Brooking)

The Greens have teamed up with student unions across the country to launch a new inquiry into the wellbeing of tertiary learners.

Students will be able to respond to a survey, with a full report to be presented to the government later this year.

Chlöe Swarbrick, the Green Party’s tertiary spokesperson, said she wants students to raise their voices and be counted. “While politicians have spent decades gutting student advocacy and support, today we’re taking the power back,” she said.

“That starts with irrefutable data. Not the kind of stuff StudyLink will keep you on hold for, but a solid understanding of who students across this country are, their experiences and their bottom lines.”

The national president of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations Andrew Lessells said the government was completely disconnected from the lives students. “These students have lost jobs because of Covid, are taking on crippling debt just to keep a roof over their heads and the most the minister can do is offer a few thousand of them a miserly $25 a week in extra allowance,” he said.

“We need a genuine effort to understand the issues our students are facing and we need a Minister that is prepared to listen to the voices crying out for help, fairness and change.”

Swarbrick agreed, saying the government’s “piecemeal, invasive and inaccessible” hardship funds throughout Covid showed the government doesn’t take students seriously. “We won’t take that any longer.”

Damning Black Ferns review reveals favouritism, body shaming and cultural insensitivities

The Black Ferns haka during the international women’s rugby match between France and New Zealand, November 20, 2021 in Castres, France. (Photo by Fabien Pallueau/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A damning report into the Black Ferns rugby team has revealed players felt worried making complaints to management over fears it would be detrimental to their careers.

It’s also claimed that players, particularly Māori and Pasifika players, had experienced favouritism, ghosting and cultural insensitivities from those in senior positions. There were also reports of “body shaming” issues for some players.

Spanning over 30 pages and offering 26 recommendations, the report includes details from interviews with over 50 players, coaches and senior management.

The report was triggered when hooker Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate posted to Instagram claiming she had experienced a “mental breakdown” after a recent tour. She alleged that the team’s head coach Glenn Moore had made comments about her, including that she was “picked only to play the guitar” and “didn’t deserve to be in the team”.

Moore has kept his job as head coach despite the report’s findings.

The review’s chair, lawyer Phillipa Muir, said that in the days that followed the Instagram post “Te Kura was not properly supported or monitored” by management.

“The review team is of the view that what occurred to Te Kura that night (and in the following days) was not well managed, or monitored, and should have been escalated.”

One of the key themes identified by the report was that there are “challenges” with the team’s high performance environment and that the “culture amongst the players is strong but not fully aligned with management. It also identified that there was not enough support for high level women players and a lack of cultural diversity among the managers.

You can read the full report here

No word yet on what will replace Wellington’s David Jones store

Screen Shot 2022-04-12 at 10.33.05 AM

Wellington’s so-called “Golden Mile” is about to lose its anchor, with no word yet on what will replace it.

Department store David Jones will be shutting its doors on June 12 in the large corner building on Lambton Quay that once housed Kirkcaldie and Stains.

The Australian department store chain will keep its Auckland store and still plans to launch a New Zealand website, but is leaving the capital after just six years.

Wellington mayor Andy Foster told the Herald he’d been in conversations with the owner of the building that David Jones currently occupied. However, he would not go into the detail of those discussions.

“David Jones, while it will be sad to see them go, it never quite met the Wellington market in the way Kirks did over many, many years … so we hope future businesses will be able to do so,” he said.

But just two months out from the store’s closure, it’s not yet known what will take its place.

Local media allowed to engage in collective bargaining with tech giants

Illustration: Toby Morris

The News Publishers’ Association, a collective of local media outlets including the Herald, Stuff and The Spinoff, has been given provisional approval by the Commerce Commission to enter into negotiations with Meta and Google about the terms on which their news content appears on each platform.

The provisional authorisation allows collective bargaining to begin while the commission continues to consider the issue and reach a view on whether the conduct should be authorised officially. “The Commission’s decision to grant provisional authorisation should not be taken as an indication that it is likely to grant or decline the application for authorisation,” a statement read.

“The Commission has assessed the evidence available at this time, and it considers that it is appropriate to grant provisional authorisation… In particular, the Commission recognises the likely benefits associated with the collective negotiation in this case, and that there is value in realising those benefits sooner rather than later.”

The likely benefits of collective negotiation, according to the commission, include the potential for participating news media companies to pool their resources and reduce the transaction costs of negotiation. It may also put smaller media companies in a better position to negotiate with Google and Meta than might otherwise be the case. “The Commission also considers that allowing this provisional arrangement is unlikely to materially alter the market in a permanent way.”

The Spinoff’s publisher and founder Duncan Greive told me that today’s announcement was the culmination of a lengthy process and a big day for sustainable journalism in Aotearoa. “But it also has potential to be the start of a national re-examination of the relationship between big tech and civil society,” he said. “Both Google and Meta are functionally among our most powerful and important utilities, yet pay almost no tax and are subject to little regulatory oversight. From here on out, that looks certain to change.”

NZME, who is also involved in the collective bargaining push, yesterday said it was in commercial discussions with Meta with regards to it supporting projects over the next year. Today, its chief executive Michael Boggs welcomed the commission’s ruling.

The push by local media outlets to enter into an agreement with Meta and Google followed a similar agreement in Australia. Their equivalent of the Commerce Commission introduced a bargaining code that initially prompted Facebook to ban news from its platforms and Google to threaten to withdraw its services. Both companies eventually made deals with the vast majority of large and small publishers in Australia.

Writing for The Spinoff last year, Greive explained the need for an agreement with the likes of  Google. “It’s time the tech giants start to pay a fair price for its role in their businesses,” he said.

The Bulletin: The Reserve Bank’s tough choice

The Reserve Bank faces a tough decision this week.

The country’s official cash rate needs to go up, increasing the cost of borrowing. The dilemma is by how much. With inflation running far too hot, the Reserve Bank’s challenge is to slow the economy, without crushing it. Jenée Tibshraeny reports for Interest that economists are split over how large the increase should be. Raise the rate too quickly now and housing might crash, raise it too slowly and housing might crash even more later. Choose wisely.

The high cost of building in Aotearoa is leaving us with less.

Oliver Lewis writes for BusinessDesk that New Zealand needs to better control the ballooning costs of building infrastructure. Auckland’s proposed light rail is a good example of costs going off the rails. For an estimated $14.6 billion, the government expects to build 24 km of track. Other countries could build a network of up to 200 km for the same price, he reports. That’s a problem with Aotearoa now facing a massive infrastructure deficit that could take years to fix — one of the possible solutions is to create a long-term pipeline of projects, so the problem could present a solution if handled correctly.

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.

Third death linked to Pfizer vaccine in NZ

Photo: Getty Images

A third death has been linked to the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in New Zealand, with the coroner now investigating.

The individual, who died in December 2021, had myocarditis at the time of their death. They had received a dose of the Covid vaccine in the weeks prior.

Myocarditis is a rare side effect of the vaccine involving an inflammation of the heart. While three deaths have now been linked to the vaccine, there have been over 10 million doses of the vaccine administered in New Zealand. Myocarditis affects roughly 30 people per one million doses and is not always fatal.

The Covid-19 Vaccine Independent Safety Monitoring Board said that the development of myocarditis was possibly due to vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine. “It’s important to note this case is with the coroner who is still investigating the cause of death,” said the Ministry of Health.

“The Board also considers that the circumstances of this case does not impact or change the known information on myocarditis.”

All three vaccine-related deaths are currently with coroners to officially determine the cause of death.

According to Medsafe, the protective benefits of vaccination against Covid-19 far outweigh the potential risks of vaccination.