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Live UpdatesJun 20 2022

Ardern jetting to Europe and Australia for trade, tourism talks

Welcome back to another week of news with The Spinoff’s live updates, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Need to get in touch? Get me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • Jacinda Ardern has confirmed her next overseas trip. She’ll visit Europe and Australia from this weekend, and is set to meet with a number of world leaders.
  • Back home, the PM has defended her party’s result in the weekend’s Tauranga byelection. National’s candidate was easily voted in as the new local MP.
  • The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has risen by 35 overnight.
  • The National-aligned Communities and Residents group is preparing to endorse Auckland mayoral candidate Viv Beck.
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Ardern jetting to Europe and Australia for trade, tourism talks

Welcome back to another week of news with The Spinoff’s live updates, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Need to get in touch? Get me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

  • Jacinda Ardern has confirmed her next overseas trip. She’ll visit Europe and Australia from this weekend, and is set to meet with a number of world leaders.
  • Back home, the PM has defended her party’s result in the weekend’s Tauranga byelection. National’s candidate was easily voted in as the new local MP.
  • The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has risen by 35 overnight.
  • The National-aligned Communities and Residents group is preparing to endorse Auckland mayoral candidate Viv Beck.
Jun 20 2022

PM to visit Europe, Australia on trade and tourism tour

Jacinda Ardern has announced her next overseas trip, with the prime minister set to depart for Europe this weekend followed by a visit to Australia.

The five-day Europe tour will see Ardern visit Belgium, the UK and Spain – the latter being the location of the Nato leaders’ summit. “The Nato meeting represents an opportunity to engage with a large number of leaders on a wide range of issues over and above security and defence,” Ardern said.

The prime minister will attend a session of the Nato summit along with leaders from Australia, Japan and the Republic of Korea. She will also hold bilateral meetings with a range of foreign leaders.

This is the fourth major overseas trip Ardern has undertaken in recent months, following visits to Asia, the US and Australia. “International links are vital for New Zealand’s economic recovery from the global Covid pandemic,” said Ardern.

Trade minister Damien O’Connor will be travelling alongside the PM.

While in London, Ardern will meet with UK PM Boris Johnson to “help cement the close links” between our two countries. These talks will be especially important for business and exporters, said Ardern, following the signing of the New Zealand-UK FTA earlier this year.

A Royal visit is also on the cards. Ardern said she will “touch base” with Prince William and give a foreign policy speech at Chatham House.

Boris Johnson and Jacinda Ardern in New York, 2019. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)

Following her European trip, Ardern will then travel to Australia alongside “a number of other ministers and a large business delegation” for meetings in Sydney and Melbourne.

“The forum has been delayed for a couple of years due to Covid and marks another important step in our reconnecting plan,” Ardern said.

“Australia is our largest market for tourists and second largest for exports. It is the most significant market for our small and medium sized businesses looking to grow their offerings.”

Ardern was only recently in Australia for bilateral talks with new leader Anthony Albanese.

Asked whether she had been invited to meet with Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy while in Europe, Ardern said no. “But nor have we sought one,” she said. Albanese was recently invited to to meet with Zelenskyy in person.

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More than 50% undecided in Auckland mayoral poll

A poll that placed four candidates for the Auckland mayoralty all but neck and neck in fact had one response way out in the lead: undecided. Polling company Curia – which conducted the survey for the Ratepayers Alliance, a sister group of the Taxpayers Union – has confirmed that 53% of those polled answered “don’t know” or “undecided”, even though they were presented with five candidates and encouraged to choose one “even if not entirely decided”. With a sample size of 500, it suggests that even the most popular candidates were selected by just 51 people each.

Here’s how the numbers look if you add undecided to the mix:

The undecided number, first reported over the weekend by BusinessDesk, was not mentioned in the original news report revealing the poll, nor in the document released by the Ratepayers Alliance, which described the five candidates as “statistically tied” after those surveyed were asked: “If the Auckland Mayoralty is a choice between the following candidates, which one are you most likely to vote for at this stage, even if not entirely decided.”

Major KiwiSaver provider calls for Fletcher chair to quit amid Gib crisis

A major KiwiSaver provider has called for the chair of Fletcher Building to resign in the wake of the Gib supply crisis.

Simplicity Living holds around $35 million in Fletcher shares. It, along with the Shareholders Association, have written to the Fletcher board after a “please explain” meeting last week. According to 1News, the meeting was organised after major construction delays prompted by the shortage of Gib.

Fletcher’s Winstone Wallboards holds 94% of New Zealand’s plasterboard supply.

In the letter, the shareholding groups said the board of Fletcher was light on relevant building sector experience. “We believe the conduct of the company has now created significant regulatory risk and a possible customer revolt,” the letter reads. “This crisis has highlighted what we see as systemic failures within the company which are ultimately the responsibility of the Fletcher Building board.”

gib plasterboard (Image: Getty Images)

Along with the chair’s resignation, the groups have called for the entire board to make themselves eligible for re-election later this year. They also asked for an independent  culture and conduct review. “We believe that once implemented, these recommendations will set Fletcher Building on a new path, focused on delighting its customers and all other stakeholders with a board equipped for the task,” the letter concluded.

Business Is Boring, in proud partnership with Spark Lab


It was an idea cooked up by Ollie Morrison during a Covid lockdown, creating South Asian-inspired pies. Now Roti Bros can be found at Farro supermarkets, Auckland’s Commercial Bay and in pop-ups around the country. Morrison and co-founder Logan Stevens have aspirations to bring their South Asian-inspired curry pies to the world, and joined Simon Pound on Business is Boring to talk about turning the initial idea for Roti Bros into a successful business, and what makes their roti pies taste so damn good. Listen to the podcast here.

Covid-19 update: Jump in hospitalisations, but rolling case number drops

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has risen by 35 overnight. There are now 391 people with the virus being treated nationwide, however there are just three in intensive care.

Most of the hospitalisations – 60 – are in Auckland Hospital, with 46 in Counties Manukau and 43 in Waitematā.

There have been nine more deaths of people with Covid-19, bringing the pandemic death toll to 1,415 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths to 13.

The latest deaths were all people over the age of 40, with two from the Auckland region, two from the Bay of Plenty, two from Wellington, two from Canterbury and one from South Canterbury. Six were women and three were men.

There are 4,024 new community cases, while the seven-day rolling average of community cases has dropped by roughly 1,000 since last Monday. It’s today sitting at 4,939 compared to 5,921 a week ago.

With the rise in winter illnesses, the Ministry of Health reminded people to take precautions against not only Covid-19, but also influenza and colds. Reminders include staying at home if you are unwell, continuing to follow mask rules, and maintaining good hand hygiene.

Uber argues its drivers are not employees

Ride sharing service Uber is in the Employment Court arguing its drivers, including those delivering food via Uber Eats, are not employees.

It’s a matter that’s been heard in courts around the world. In the Netherlands last year, a court ruled that Uber did employ its drivers. In the US, however, they are deemed contractors.

Here in New Zealand, Stuff has reported that the case is being considered after unions E Tū and First Union asked for a declaration that drivers would be given employee status. That brings with it rights like holiday leave.

Uber, however, has argued that its platform is simply a “marketplace” – a bit like TradeMe.

Sign up to The Spinoff’s first-ever business newsletter, Stocktake

Tomorrow morning The Spinoff launches a new weekly business newsletter. Stocktake is produced in partnership with Kiwibank and will feature the people behind the businesses driving Aotearoa and insight on how the forces affecting the economy of Aotearoa will impact the lives of New Zealanders.

Sign up to Stocktake to get the first edition delivered to your inbox tomorrow morning – and go in the draw to win one of three prize packs from one of our favourite business success stories, Fix and Fogg. Two subscribers will receive a six-month supply and one lucky winner a full year’s supply of Fix and Fogg’s delicious nut butters.

Flu now more prevalent in hospitals than Covid, says Ardern

The prime minister’s latest comments on our traffic light alert level indicate any shift back into the stricter red is unlikely.

An update on whether or not the country can move down to the green setting is expected in the coming days.

Speaking to RNZ, Jacinda Ardern said we moved from red to orange when daily cases were above 10,000 and more than 500 people were in hospital with the virus. “Our rolling average now is under 5,000 cases, with about 350 in hospital… now in Auckland some of our hospitals, flu is a greater risk of respiratory hospitalisation than Covid-19,” she said.

“We’re looking at everything we can to ease the pressure, but here I have an ask for the public: please get your flu vaccine and please wear your mask.” The PM also asked people to make use of Healthline for “non-acute” health issues.

On bring back tougher mask restrictions, Ardern said she had asked her health experts to provide “evidence” on whether they were needed. “Following the mask guidance we have now does provide a good level of protection.”

National-aligned group prepares to back Auckland mayoral candidate

The National-aligned local government group Communities and Residents is preparing to endorse Auckland mayoral candidate Viv Beck, according to the Herald’s Bernard Orsman. 

While National itself does not endorse local election candidates, the centre right C&R group does typically throw its support behind a mayoral hopeful.

C&R president Kit Parkinson has described Beck as the “most skilled, competent and honest” candidate in the race for Auckland’s top job, and said she will “lead Auckland into a new cost-efficient future”.

Viv Beck on the corner of Customs and Queen Streets. Photo: Toby Manhire. Illustration: Toby Morris

The endorsement would be a blow for Leo Molloy, who last week claimed that the National Party had offered to endorse him. Party leader Christopher Luxon, however, rejected this. “Nothing has changed, we don’t endorse local candidates,” he said.

A poll released before the weekend showed it was currently a four-horse race for Auckland mayor. Molloy and Labour-endorsed candidate Efeso Collins were just on in front on 21.7%, with Beck in third on 20.5%.

The Fold: Leigh Hart is super funny – he’s also a business genius

Today on our media podcast The Fold, Duncan Greive is joined by Leigh Hart for a highly entertaining and revealing chat. Known for weird and highly original TV shows, Hart is also a wildly innovative business person.

In a rare earnest and out-of-character interview, he explains how he has built the singular Moon TV universe, and the way beer and chips have naturally grown out of his approach to funding his escapades.


Follow The Fold on Apple PodcastsSpotify or your favourite podcast provider.

The Bulletin: Debate over ways to address health worker shortages

In response to Auckland’s medical school saying the government won’t let them open up more places to train doctors, health minister Andrew Little says it isn’t that simple. Little says the bottleneck hasn’t been med school spots but the capacity of DHBs to support the training of graduates in hospitals. Modelling suggests we need 50 new doctors a year to meet shortfalls.

National’s immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford called out immigration minister Kris Faafoi on Q&A yesterday, saying she thought he’d misunderstood the issue with nurses and the two-year wait requirement for residency. Stanford said National would use section 49 of the Immigration Act to apply conditions to their visas rather than use the two-tier system recently introduced with the green list.

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.  

Ardern on Tauranga byelection: ‘I’m not quick to read into individual outcomes’

The prime minister is defending her party’s result in the weekend’s Tauranga byelection.

National’s Sam Uffindell trounced the field, with preliminary results giving him almost 11,000 votes compared with Labour’s Jan Tinetti on 4,893. Act candidate Cameron Luxton was third with 1,991 votes.

Speaking to RNZ, Jacinda Ardern said Tinetti’s result was one of the “better results” that Labour had received in Tauranga in decades. “It’s simply not the same as in general elections,” she said of byelections. “I’m not quick to read into individual outcomes.”

The weekend result was a good result for the right, however voter turnout was low and there were no standing candidates from the Greens, New Zealand First or Te Pāti Māori. Ardern said the result for Labour was “very similar” to the vote in 2017 when the party took office.

There wasn’t “one single issue” that led to the byelection result, said Ardern, however she acknowledged that people did believe the government should be steering the country through issues like the cost of living crisis. “We know that it is tough out there now, people do see the government taking every action they can,” she said.

Read more: Toby Manhire analyses the byelection result

A banker and agribusiness owner, Sam Uffindell will be the new MP for Tauranga, succeeding Simon Bridges.
Mr Uffindell is currently the Head of Financial Economic Crime for Rabobank and owns a small agribusiness based in the Bay of Plenty.