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Live UpdatesJul 12 2022

Covid hospitalisations top 700 as winter surge continues

It’s a wet and windy Tuesday – I hope you’re safely indoors today! I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates. Get in touch with me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • The Pacific Islands Forum is kicking off today, with PM Jacinda Ardern in attendance.
  • Weather warnings remain in place for much of the country after a night of torrential rain and strong wind.
  • New Zealand’s highest court is considering the issue of New Zealand’s voting age – and whether it should be lowered.
  • The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has jumped to 710, up from yesterday’s 689.
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Covid hospitalisations top 700 as winter surge continues

It’s a wet and windy Tuesday – I hope you’re safely indoors today! I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates. Get in touch with me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • The Pacific Islands Forum is kicking off today, with PM Jacinda Ardern in attendance.
  • Weather warnings remain in place for much of the country after a night of torrential rain and strong wind.
  • New Zealand’s highest court is considering the issue of New Zealand’s voting age – and whether it should be lowered.
  • The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has jumped to 710, up from yesterday’s 689.
Jul 12 2022

Migration figures show more people left NZ in 2021

More people left New Zealand than migrated here in the year ending May 2022, according to new stats.

Provisional figures show 47,500 people migrated here, down 17% on the year before, compared with 58,200 who left the country, down 6%.

It represents an annual net migration loss of 10,700, compared with a loss of 4,200 the year before.

The latest figures were made up of net losses of 8,400 non-New Zealand citizens and 2,300 New Zealand citizens, while in 2021 the net gain of 15,200 New Zealand citizens offset the number of non-New Zealanders who left.

There was also a net loss to Australia alone in 2021. That was down 5,800 compared with a net migration gain of 7,300 in 2020.

In a press release titled “Can you hear the giant sucking sound?” the Act Party said New Zealand needed to become an attractive destination for overseas workers. “We have a labour crisis in nearly every area of the economy, nurses, builders, fruit pickers, pilots, accountants. Businesses are at breaking point and not enough is being done to find the workers,” said leader David Seymour.

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Thanks for the aroha.

China, climate change and Kiribati on Ardern’s PIF agenda

Jacinda Ardern has met with Palau’s president during the first day of the Pacific Islands Forum in Suva.

The prime minister’s in Fiji until Thursday and is due to conduct a number of bilateral meetings with her Pacific counterparts. That includes a catch-up with the prime minister of the Solomon Islands tomorrow and with Fiji’s PM Frank Bainimarama later in the week.

The Forum got off to a rocky start with news Kiribati had withdrawn. Ardern, speaking to media this afternoon, said she hoped the nation would re-enter the Forum, citing concerns around climate change – an issue that was best addressed regionally.

The growing influence of China in the Pacific had also been a talking point, said Ardern, and she would raise this during her meeting with the Solomon Islands’ PM Manasseh Sogavare.

“No-one is questioning the individual sovereignty [for countries] to form its own relationships,” said Ardern, though she noted it should be discussed when it impacted on regional security.

United States vice president Kamala Harris is also set to virtually address the Pacific Islands Forum. She will talk for 30 minutes on the US Tuna Treaty Agreement, an issue that Ardern said was important for the Pacific. “It acknowledges that the Pacific Islands Forum members and this very important conversation is important to the United States too.”

Covid-19 update: Hospitalisations climb above 700, another 11,548 cases

Covid-related hospitalisations have today topped 700 as the number of new infections continues to climb steadily.

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has jumped to 710, up from yesterday’s 689. There are now 17 people in intensive care, also an increase from recent days.

Since falling to 300 on June 23, the Covid hospitalisation number has grown by an average of more than 21 per day. Were it to continue to increase at that rate, the previous high of 1,016 hospitalisations, recorded on March 22, would be eclipsed in about a fortnight.

The surge in hospitalisations comes as winter illnesses, including Covid-19, are on the rise. Another 11,548 community Covid-19 cases have been reported today, bringing the daily rolling average of new infections up to 9,550.

“The Ministry of Health and Te Whatu Ora – Health NZ are closely monitoring the continued increase in Covid-19 positive hospitalisations as part of our ongoing review and updating of the response to the current community outbreak,” said a ministry spokesperson.

“The increase in hospitalisations also emphasises the importance of everybody doing the basics well to help New Zealand get through winter in good shape.”

The country’s Covid death toll has risen by 19 over the past four days. It brings the total number of reported deaths to 1,707 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths to 17.

Once again, the ministry has reminded people to wear face masks in all public indoor settings outside of the home.

Issue of under 18s voting heads to the Supreme Court

New Zealand’s highest court will today consider the issue of lowering New Zealand’s voting age.

While the Supreme Court will not actually be ruling on the matter itself, it will be considering whether preventing 16 and 17-year-olds from voting constitutes discrimination and is therefore inconsistent with the Bill of Rights.

If the court rules in favour, a declaration of inconsistency could be made – and that could help progress the issue of New Zealand’s voting age to parliament.

The Supreme Court case follows the Court of Appeal finding that the current voting age was discriminatory, but choosing not to issue the declaration. “For too long 16 and 17 year-olds like me have been excluded from voting booths,” said co-director of Make it 16, Cate Tipler. “We are here because that is a breach of our human rights.”

Tipler said the group was frustrated by the Court of Appeal’s judgment. “If the Supreme Court issues a declaration, it will not overturn the law but it will send a strong moral message to parliament that this has to change,” they said.

It will pressure our politicians to look at this serious human rights issue and how a voting age of 16 will uplift and strengthen the voices of young people in Aotearoa. Breaching our human rights just isn’t good enough.”

New Zealand’s electoral laws are already in the spotlight thanks to a series of proposed laws put forward. The government has announced plans to progress several changes to our current legislation before next year’s election, while both the Greens and Te Pāti Māori have had member’s bills drawn from the ballot.

Second monkeypox case confirmed – with no link to the first

A second case of monkeypox has been confirmed in New Zealand – unlinked to the previously reported first case.

The person, who has a record of recent overseas travel, is currently isolating in the Northern region.

The Ministry of Health said while this case is not linked to the one reported on Saturday, neither have so far led to community transmission.

Public health advice has assessed the risk of transmission from this case as low.

The majority of people with monkeypox can be safely managed at home, said the ministry. “They are asked to isolate until the scabs from lesions have fallen off,” a spokesperson said. “At this point we are asking close contacts to monitor for symptoms for three weeks and isolate if symptoms develop.”

Almost 40% of businesses advertising roles for six months – survey

A survey of businesses by the Employers and Manufacturers Association has highlighted the struggle to fill job vacancies.

Of those polled by the EMA, 100% of responding employers with vacancies said they were having difficulty finding staff, with almost 40% advertising for more than six months.

That came from 335 responses, primarily from the manufacturing, transport, construction, health, and retail sectors, and covering around 50 sectors.

New Zealand currently has a record low unemployment rate of just 3.2%, but labour shortages have persisted throughout the pandemic in many sectors.

Read more: Why everyone is short-staffed right now

New Zealand not doing enough to maintain Pacific relationships – Winston Peters

Winston Peters thinks the government is out of its depth in the Pacific.

The Pacific Islands Forum is being held this week for the first time since Covid-19, with prime minister Jacinda Ardern in attendance.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB, Peters – a former foreign minister and deputy PM – said we had failed to build on our relationships in the region.

“If you look at Penny Wong [Australia’s foreign minister] since she’s had the job, she’s got on the darn road and gone to see these people to keep up these relationships,” said Peters. The Pacific is very much like a family, and the way that [Wong] has gone about it has been a magnificent comparison to the way we’ve gone about it.”

Peters criticised New Zealand’s “indigenous approach” to foreign affairs. “I don’t know what that means because the moment you leave this country you run into people who are indigenous everywhere,” he said.

The foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta has made a concerted effort to incorporate a Māori perspective into her role since taking office in 2020.

While Peters would not comment on whether Mahuta was fit for the role of foreign minister, he said the evidence speaks for itself. “You have to ask New Zealanders,” he said. Do you think that the effort’s been made? They’ve got to work it out for themselves.”

The Pacific Islands Forum runs through until Thursday.

The Bulletin: Regulator knew Wellington’s water wasn’t being fluoridated in 2016

As the Herald’s Georgina Campbell reports, Regional Public Health (RPH) were aware that Wellington’s water wasn’t being fluoridated properly since 2016, but the regulator did not raise any concerns. As Campbell writes, an independent inquiry that was made public last week reveals the extent of the region’s fluoride failure stretches back many years and across several organisations.​​ Dr Bryan Betty has indicated that it will be the children of the region that will bear the cost, saying there could be an upswing in tooth decay. RPH no longer exists as it was replaced by Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand on July 1.

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Country slammed by night of wild weather

I’m sitting in my lounge staring at a TV saying “no signal” and that’s how I know we’ve had a night of crazy weather here in Auckland. That and the fact I was woken up several times from the sound of rain pelting down.

In case you’ve somehow missed it, much of the country has been hit by heavy rain and wind and travel is being discouraged unless unavoidable.

MetService has a comprehensive list of the weather warnings, which are in place for many towns and cities, and has explained that the crazy rain and wind was caused by a “deep low” moving across the country overnight.

“This weather system is expected to bring heavy rain and severe gales to many parts of the country,” said MetService. “Warnings and watches for heavy rain and severe gales are in force for many places.”

Currently, the Auckland Harbour Bridge is open though Waka Kotahi’s put speed restrictions in place. The transport agency has also advised extra caution when travelling around the city. “Please slow down, increase your following distance and be mindful of possible slips, surface flooding and/or fallen trees on roads in the area.”

Don’t be surprised if the bridge closes and reopens throughout the day.

Today’s edition of The Bulletin is also connected to the night of rain. That’s because a new poll reveals 91% of us expect more extreme weather in the future – and we think the government should be most responsible for taking action on climate change.