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blog may 12


Auckland Covid cases trending up

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for May 12, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Get in touch with me on

The agenda

  • Covid-19 update: Nine new deaths, Auckland community cases on the up.
  • The new immigration “rebalance” could entrench a “two-tiered system”, claim the Greens. But the government disagrees.
  • Petrol prices are back on the up with one Auckland station selling 91 for $3.15 a litre.
blog may 12

Auckland Covid cases trending up

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for May 12, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Get in touch with me on

The agenda

  • Covid-19 update: Nine new deaths, Auckland community cases on the up.
  • The new immigration “rebalance” could entrench a “two-tiered system”, claim the Greens. But the government disagrees.
  • Petrol prices are back on the up with one Auckland station selling 91 for $3.15 a litre.
May 12 2022

DGL board wants review of company culture after CEO’s Nadia Lim comments

A grainy Simon Henry with shirt unbuttoned (Image via Motoring NZ)

The board of DGL has initiated an independent review of company culture following offensive comments made by its CEO, Simon Henry, about New Zealand chef Nadia Lim last week.

In a statement to the NZX, the board said it acknowledged Henry’s “genuine regret” over the comments he made to an NBR journalist, including calling Lim “Eurasian fluff”.

“The board is determined to ensure respect for diversity and inclusion is embedded firmly throughout DGL Group’s culture at all levels, and that the company’s adherence to ESG principles aligns with market expectations,” said the statement.

“To this end, the board has commenced a process leading to the appointment of a suitable advisory firm to conduct a thorough independent review of DGL’s culture and recommend any changes necessary to ensure the culture reflects key values.

“The remuneration framework for all DGL Group senior executives will be reviewed by the Board’s Remuneration Committee, with a plan to implement a balanced scorecard approach for assessing at-risk remuneration, targeting an implementation date of 1 July 2022.”

The statement said Henry “understands the importance of his own conduct in setting standards across DGL Group. He is fully supportive of and will participate in this process initiated by the board.”

North Korea locking down as first Covid infections announced

North Korea’s major cities are going into lockdown after the first confirmed cases of Covid-19.

While it’s unlikely the nation of 25 million people has actually avoided Covid infections across the past two years, these are the first that have officially been announced. The country has had its borders shut since January 2020.

As CNN reports, state media in North Korea have labelled the situation a “major national emergency”.

It’s yet to be confirmed how many cases of Covid-19, believed to be the omicron strain, have been found.

What Simon Henry should have done

Simon Henry, Nadia Lim and alleged cleavage (Image: Tina Tiller)

He should have apologised immediately. He should have meant it. He should have shown what he’s done to educate himself, and to make amends. He should have fronted the media, and accepted interview requests.

A full mea culpa was the only way to go.

Simon Henry, the CEO of chemicals company DGL, did none of this.

Instead, after calling My Food Bag’s Nadia Lim “Eurasian fluff” in an extraordinary interview with NBR, he went to ground, refusing to release an apology until it leaked to media yesterday, a full seven days after Henry’s comments were first reported.

It was too little, too late, says one Auckland-based media advisor.

“I don’t think the apology that he gave shows that he believes he’s in the wrong,” said Chris Henry (no relation), the managing director of PR company 818. “You need to mean it, and understand why it’s offensive, so you can learn from your mistake.”

Refusing to speak for seven days magnified the situation. “By leaving that space around it, he was essentially doing it without saying it again. He was leaving his statement on the record by not apologising,” Chris Henry said.

Simon Henry looked bad, but the damage could spread to his associates. “I feel for the people that are around him, trying to execute business and are trying not to get involved in it but are pulling their hair out saying, ‘Why don’t you make this go away?'” said Chris Henry.

Right now, it’s unlikely to die down any time soon. That two-line apology has just made things worse. Is there any coming back from this? Chris Henry says it’s impossible to sweep the issue under the rug, but a proper apology, a lengthy statement, perhaps via a blog post, or LinkedIn, could help end the constant news cycles, “Something that explains how he’s come to the realisation that what he’s done is wrong, what he’s learned from the situation and how that will affect his behaviour moving forward.”

But, he cautioned, Simon Henry has to mean it. “He has to be sorry, and he has to come to that decision himself, otherwise it’s disingenuous.”

Subscribe to The Boil Up

(Image: Tina Tiller)

The Spinoff’s first-ever weekly food newsletter is here. Delivered to your inbox every Thursday, The Boil Up, is a collection of Aotearoa’s best in food and beverage. Written by Charlotte Muru-Lanning and produced in partnership with Boring Oat Milk, the newsletter will bring you the political, social, trendy, personal and delicious aspects of this country’s diverse and ever-changing culinary landscape. The Boil Up will be a shared table where we can gather to break bread and contemplate the meaning of food in our lives.
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Winston Peters’ plan to curb gangs? Ban them

Winston Peters speaks to media at Parliament on June 17, 2020. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Winston Peters has a simple idea to stop gang problems in New Zealand: just ban them.

The former deputy prime minister and current New Zealand First leader took to his favourite social media platform, Twitter, to reveal his idea.

“We need to ban the gangs,” he proclaimed. “Gangs have been part of the landscape for a long time. But it is clear to any objective view that things are simply out of control. They are a problem. They are violent. They are run by drug money.”

Gangs are “social cancer”, said Peters, and the only way to stop them would be to “cut the cancer out”.

Covid-19 update: Nine new deaths, Auckland community cases jump

Image: Toby Morris

Nine more people with Covid-19 have died, bringing the overall pandemic death toll to 911 and the seven-day rolling average to 13.

The deaths being reported today include eight people who have died over the past two days and one person who has died since May 5. Four of the latest deaths were people from Auckland and five were from Canterbury. One person was their 70s, two in their 80s and six were aged over 90. Four were women and five were men.

There are now 398 people in hospital with Covid-19, an increase on recent days. Intensive care numbers, however, have dropped back to seven.

There are 9,392 new community cases of Covid-19. Auckland has seen a big bump in new daily cases with 3,388 in the super city. It’s the first time there have been more than 3,000 Auckland cases in a day for seven weeks.

Today’s seven-day rolling average of community case numbers is 7,533 – last Thursday it was 7,684.

“The number of community cases today is an important reminder to remain vigilant,” said the Ministry of Health, reminding people to get boosted, wear a mask, and stay home if unwell.

Local survey finds no new Pfizer vaccine concerns

Marama Lyall Barraball receives her vaccine from Dr Maia Melbourne-Wilcox (Photo: Supplied)

No new safety concerns linked to the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine have been detected in New Zealand following a survey of nearly 150,000 people. However, over a third of people experienced anticipated adverse reactions.

Over 58,000 – about 40% – of those surveyed said they had experienced “at least one adverse” reaction to the vaccines, while the remaining 60% experienced nothing. Reactions reported, like headaches and muscle pain, were all in line with those seen in the vaccine’s clinical trials.

Dr Tim Hanlon from the National Immunisation Programme was reassured by the survey’s findings. “Covid-19 vaccines are working the way we expect them to,” he said. “We will continue to monitor the safety of Covid-19 vaccines throughout the lifetime of their use in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

He added: “The most frequently reported adverse events were injection site reactions, headache, muscle and body aches, joint pain, and chills. These are common adverse reactions linked to the immune response following immunisation.”

Food prices still rising, confirms Stats NZ

A supermarket shopper wearing a mask in Auckland (Getty Images)

Food prices were 6.4% higher in April this year than in the same month the year before, according to new Stats NZ figures.

It’s just the latest confirmation of the cost of living crisis and what’s driving it. Grocery prices were the largest contributor to the rise, said Stats NZ, with fruit and vegetables specifically up 9.4% year on year.

Meat, poultry, and fish prices increased 8.1%.

While the April to April move is big, the month prior saw a 10-year high in the price of food.

In response, both Countdown and Foodstuffs have announced adjustments to the cost of essential items. The former will freeze prices of certain items over winter, while the latter has announced price cuts of 10%.

Flight of the Conchords star launching joke-free new album

Bret McKenzie’s launching a new solo album (Photo / Supplied)

Bret McKenzie, one half of New Zealand musi-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, has announced a brand new solo album. But in a surprise move for the Academy Award winning comic, the new album won’t be filled with laughs.

Called Songs Without Jokes, the album is McKenzie’s first go at creating original music that’s not meant to be funny. “Post-Conchords, I’d been working on songs for the Muppets films, and during a session I had the thought that it would be fun someday to work on some songs that weren’t for someone else, that don’t have to tell a story or be funny or continue the narrative plot, checking all the boxes for the character in the movie,” McKenzie said.

“I thought it’d be fun to do a record like that, something different.”

Alongside the August launch of the album, Mckenzie’s scheduled a nationwide tour. He’ll be performing up the country from Invercargill to Auckland in September.

Petrol prices circle $3 mark again despite tax cut

The only way is up now for petrol prices. Image: Tina Tiller

The price of 91 octane is back up around the $3 per litre mark in some parts of the country, despite the government’s move to curb the cost of living crisis.

At least two petrol stations on my work commute today were sitting at $2.99, while fuel price app Gaspy shows that the Mobil in St Lukes could be Auckland’s most expensive petrol at $3.15 a litre. (Costco in Westgate continues to be the cheapest at just above $2.60).

Fuel excise duty and road user charges were dropped by 25 cents per litre back in March. The price drop was announced for at least a three month period, but the government has signalled it could be extended if prices don’t ease. It’s possible that further relief could be on the way in next week’s budget.

The Spinoff has asked AA for further comment on just how bad prices could get.

New immigration plan entrenching a ‘two-tiered system’ – Greens

Marama Davidson and Julie Ann Genter listen to Green Party co-leader James Shaw speak in 2017 (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The government’s new immigration “rebalance” will entrench a two-tier immigration system, according to the Greens.

Under a new streamlined approach to immigration, certain migrants will be able to get New Zealand residence as soon as they move to the country. That includes the likes of doctors and vets. Others, like midwives and teachers, will be able to become a New Zealand resident after two years in the country. And if you’re not on that

The party’s immigration spokesperson Ricardo Menéndez March said the plan fails to focus on the wellbeing of workers by not providing a guaranteed residency pathway for lower income migrants.

“The Greens are calling for an immigration rebalance that is centred on workers’ rights and the wellbeing of our communities. This announcement fails to provide certainty for the types of job many low-income and essential workers who we congratulated throughout the pandemic,” he said.

“Migrants aren’t just economic units to support employers make a profit. It’s grossly unfair to continue to rely on the fruits of migrant workers’ labour, and at the same time deny them the opportunity to put down roots in their community.”

The government has pushed back on the Greens’ claim, with immigration minister Kris Faafoi telling Newshub’s AM the party was simply wrong. “The system is designed to make sure we get the skills we need and the people who will come in and do those jobs will come from a number of places and will be both male or female or whatever gender they describe themselves as,” he said.

“I don’t think they’ve got anything to stand on, I think they are wrong.”

The Bulletin: Two supermarkets, both alike in strategy

I use Gaspy to track petrol prices (which are heading towards $3p/l again). I now feel like I need, but do not want, an app for comparing the cost of basic food items.* After Countdown announced a “price freeze” on 500 essential items over winter, including 117 herbs and spices, Foodstuffs (which includes ​​New World, Pak’nSave and Four Square) has announced its own price freeze. It’s cutting prices by an average of 10% on more than 110 everyday items. I’d say a lot of people might be feeling like the ongoing price and commentary ping pong is a plague on all our houses and they’d just like some certainty. The government is due to give its response to the commerce commission’s report on supermarkets at the end of the month. Tom Pullar-Strecker has a rundown on likely options.

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*A note from Stewart: This exists – it’s called Grocer