One Question Quiz
summer live updates 2


266 omicron cases at the border since December 1

Welcome to a brand new year of The Spinoff’s live updates. This week we’re still on summer hours and will be bringing you a curated selection of breaking news and other top stories. Need to get in touch? I’m on

summer live updates 2

266 omicron cases at the border since December 1

Welcome to a brand new year of The Spinoff’s live updates. This week we’re still on summer hours and will be bringing you a curated selection of breaking news and other top stories. Need to get in touch? I’m on

Jan 14 2022

Traffic light review day looming

A Friday afternoon reminder that next Monday, January 17, marks a significant day in the government’s Covid response.

The next traffic light review will take place after the weekend, on the same day vaccinations open for those aged 5-11.

Here’s a recap of what to expect on Monday:

  • Since December 30, the entire country (except Northland) has been in the orange setting of the traffic light system. That includes Auckland, the epicentre of the delta outbreak and the arrival point for most international travellers, and the South Island, which has had very limited exposure to Covid-19 across the pandemic.
  • On Monday, the existing settings will be reviewed and it’s possible that a move to the green setting (the closest we can get to “normal” life) could be implemented for parts of the country. The South Island has been calling for a shift to green since the framework was first introduced. It’s possible vaccination rates in Northland could see the region move out of the red.
  • However, the rise of omicron at the border could mean restrictions on gatherings are still required, especially in areas with international airports or MIQ facilities. Under orange, large events where vaccine passes are not used can only be attended by 50 people.
  • Also on Monday: Auckland’s border will officially drop, meaning police spot checks for travellers leaving the city will no longer occur (unless you’re, like, speeding or something).
  • Booster bookings will also be opened up to anyone who has been fully vaccinated for at least four months (you can already book in over the phone or simply walk in to a clinic or pharmacy, but online bookings are only accessible for those who have waited at least six months since their second Pfizer dose).

The most common surnames for 2021, revealed

Singh was the most common surname in New Zealand last year, following on from its record in 2020.

Smith falls into second place, with Kaur – historically the feminine counterpart to Singh in Sikh communities – third and Williams fourth.

Singh was also the most common across the North Island but swapped positions with Smith in the South.

“Unlike the most popular first names for babies which tend to retain popularity across the country, data for family names differs, painting a beautiful picture of the cultural history of each region of Aotearoa,” said Jeff Montgomery, registrar-general.

Common Chinese names Wang and Li cracked the top six in Auckland, but neither name appears in the overall top 10. Similarly, Anderson and Thomas, in the sixth and eighth spots for babies born in the South Island, did not reach the nationwide top 10.

(Image / Supplied)

The rise of Covid at our border, tracked

Experts have once again warned us that a community outbreak of omicron could be just weeks away.

And as you can see from the below graph, the highly transmissible Covid-19 variant has made itself known at our border. There have now been 266 cases of the omicron variant confirmed at the border since December 1, said the Ministry of Health in today’s 1pm statement.

18 new Covid-19 community cases, 43 at the border

There are 18 new community cases of Covid-19, while 43 infections have been detected at the border.

There have now been 266 cases of the omicron variant of Covid-19 confirmed at the border since December 1. “The MIQ system exists to catch cases at the border,” said the Ministry of Health in a statement. “Managed isolation and quarantine facilities are well set up to care for omicron cases and protect the community. The staff at facilities are experienced in managing and caring for positive cases.”

Of the new community cases, 11 are in Auckland, four in Waikato, one in Bay of Plenty and two are in Canterbury.

There remain 34 people in hospital with Covid-19, including two in intensive care.

45% of the population currently eligible have now received their booster shot. From Monday, children aged 5-11 will be able to receive their first dose of the vaccine. “Vaccination remains our key defence against all variants of Covid-19 including omicron,” said the ministry.

Today’s case details

There are 11 new cases in Auckland. Health and welfare providers are now supporting 859 people in the region to isolate at home, including 184 cases.

In Waikato, there are four new cases, all are linked to previous cases. Three are in Ngāruawāhia and one is in Huntly. One new location of interest was confirmed in Te Aroha.

The single new case in Bay of Plenty originally tested positive while in Waikato, but has a Bay of Plenty address. This case remains under investigation.

The two cases reported yesterday are being included in today’s official tally of case numbers.

Patrons at several eateries and bars asked to get tested for Covid-19

Several hospitality venues have appeared as locations of interest linked to cases of Covid-19, with patrons identified as close contacts.

Visitors to the Danny Doolan’s pub in Auckland CBD last Friday night between 11pm and 11.20pm are being asked to self-isolate and get tested for Covid-19. Other locations where people have been identified as close contacts include the Round 6 Bar and Nightclub and Saturdays in Britomart.

Meanwhile, some seated customers at the Myrtle bakery in Wellington’s Mount Victoria have also been linked to a case of the virus. Anyone who visited around lunchtime last Saturday is also asked to isolate and get tested.

The full list is available here

Cook Islands travel bubble relaunches

Two-way quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and the Cook Islands has recommenced today.

The travel bubble opened with much fanfare before the arrival of delta in 2021, but lasted just three months before closing. Since then, the Cook Islands have managed to vaccinate close to 100% of their population, reports RNZ.

Only fully vaccinated travellers over the age of 12 will be allowed entry into the Cook Islands, and a negative pre-departure Covid-19 test will be required.

Air New Zealand said there had been “strong demand” for bookings to the Pacific nation since the travel bubble was announced.

When the Facts Change: A big year for housing

Bernard Hickey is joined by Ockham founder Mark Todd to dig through a massive year for housing. They talk about the record high number of houses being built despite all sorts of supply chain grief and skills shortages, plus whether the “Townhouse Nation” law changes rammed through parliament will actually make a difference, or leave us regretting the prescriptive legislation in years to come.

When the Facts Change is brought to you by The Spinoff Podcast Network together with Kiwibank.

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

Prince Andrew stripped of royal titles, ends NZ military role


Prince Andrew has been stripped of his military titles and will no longer use the title “His Royal Highness” in any official capacity.

The decision by the Queen comes as her 61-year-old son faces a sexual assault lawsuit in the United States.

The Prince has repeatedly denied the claims and the BBC reports he will continue to fight to prove his innocence.

In a statement, Buckingham Palace said: “With the Queen’s approval and agreement, the Duke of York’s military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to the Queen.

“The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that Prince Andrew’s appointment as colonel-in-chief of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment had now ended.