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blog april 22


Person aged under 19 dies with Covid

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for April 22, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Want to get in touch with me? You can reach me on

The latest

  • There have been another 13 deaths linked to our Covid-19 outbreak, including a person aged under 19.
  • There are now 522 people with Covid in hospital. Another 9,390 cases have been announced.
  • New Zealand and Japan will strengthen our diplomatic ties. PM Ardern met with her Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida in Tokyo overnight.
  • The team charged with creating the new public media entity has been announced.
blog april 22

Person aged under 19 dies with Covid

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for April 22, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Want to get in touch with me? You can reach me on

The latest

  • There have been another 13 deaths linked to our Covid-19 outbreak, including a person aged under 19.
  • There are now 522 people with Covid in hospital. Another 9,390 cases have been announced.
  • New Zealand and Japan will strengthen our diplomatic ties. PM Ardern met with her Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida in Tokyo overnight.
  • The team charged with creating the new public media entity has been announced.
Apr 22 2022

New Zealander locked down in China fundraises to help get disabled dog home

Stephen, before and now (Images / Supplied)

A New Zealander in Shanghai has launched a fundraiser to help bring his disabled dog back to New Zealand with him.

David Foote has been in China for over a decade and it’s there that he met his partner Katrina, who was fostering a disabled Bedlington Terrier called Stephen. The pair later adopted Stephen and this year they plan to move to New Zealand.

Before coming into Katrina’s care, Stephen the terrier was found lying on the side of a highway for days with a broken back. After two spinal surgeries, Stephen learned how to use a doggy wheelchair and has now, according to the couple, become a “confident and happy pup”.

But with Shanghai experiencing another wave of Covid-19 and another lockdown, Foote said the couple are struggling to save the money needed to relocate back to New Zealand with Stephen. “Kat’s work has slowed down to nearly nothing and we are currently paying rent for two apartments because we signed a new lease just before the lockdown and now cannot even step outside our apartment door – except to be tested or take out the garbage – let alone move house,” said Foote in an email to The Spinoff.

“We recognise that Covid has been hard for many people and our economic situation is certainly not unique. However, due to the lack of animal protection laws here in China, Stephen could be in real danger if either of his humans were to end up in government quarantine.”

Stephen, before and now (Images / Supplied)

New Zealand’s biosecurity rules mean Stephen will need to spend six months outside China before he can fly direct to New Zealand. “Arranging for proper alternative care would be difficult under current circumstances and there have been several documented cases of quarantine workers killing animals when their owners test positive,” the couple said. “For this reason, we would like to send Stephen to Singapore as soon as it is possible to begin his journey home.”

You can check out the Givealittle page here

My Food Bag ups prices as grocery costs surge

(Photo: My Food Bag)

My Food Bag, the New Zealand-owned meal kit company, has announced price increases to its core product range as the cost of living rises.

It was yesterday confirmed that annual inflation had risen by just under 7%, the highest in more than three decades.

Not long after that announcement, My Food Bag customers were informed their subscription would be going up. An email sent out cited the financial toll of the pandemic along with “increasing inflationary pressure across a number of areas”.

Part of the email sent out to My Food Bag customers (Photo: My Food Bag)

The company’s CEO Kevin Bowler told The Spinoff live updates that the price increases average 2.8% to 3.3%, or about 30 to 50 cents per plate, per week.

“My Food Bag has experienced input cost pressure across the key cost areas of ingredients, freight, and labour costs,” he said. “We have seen ongoing increases in ingredient prices, which are reflected in the Statistics New Zealand food price index. This has increased 10.7% to May 2022 and during this time our price increases have been less than overall food price movements.”

Customers will notice the increase from May 1.

(Photo: My Food Bag)

Covid-19 latest: 13 new deaths, 522 now in hospital, 9,390 cases

Image: Toby Morris

There have been another 13 deaths linked to our Covid-19 outbreak, including a person aged under 19. The overall death toll now sits at 646 while the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is now 11.

Of the latest deaths, one person was from Northland, six from the Auckland region, one from Waikato, one from Lakes, one from Whanganui, one from the Wellington region and two from the Canterbury region.

One person was aged between 10 and 19, five in their 70s, six in their 80s, and one person was over 90. Four were male and nine were female.

There are now 522 people in hospital with Covid-19, including 15 in intensive care. Waitematā Hospital now has the highest number of Covid cases with 84, followed by Auckland with 80 and Counties Manukau with 72.

New community cases have dropped back below 10,000 with 9,390 reported today.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has issued a reminder to anyone travelling over the Anzac long weekend. “You should have plans in place in the event you contract Covid-19 or are identified as a household contact of a case,” said a spokesperson.

“You would need to self-isolate and likely remain wherever you test positive or become a household contact, so there may be extra costs involved in paying for additional accommodation and changing your travel plans.”

If you have used your own vehicle to travel, you can travel back to your home to isolate. However, the ministry said you must take public health measures to ensure you don’t infect anyone on your way home – such as maintaining social distance and using self-service petrol stations.

On the vaccination front, booster stats appear to have stalled at around 71% of the eligible population. Just over 1,500 boosters were administered yesterday.

It’s Friday Quiz time

The Friday News Quiz

After a week off, The Spinoff’s world famous* weekly news quiz makes a triumphant return. Test your knowledge of all the comings and goings in New Zealand news and current affairs below. Can you score a 10?


Clarinet teacher resigns from private music teacher institute after Spinoff story

Illustration by Lena Lam

David Adlam, the music teacher subject of The Spinoff’s investigation into an inappropriate relationship with a student when she was 16 years old, has resigned from the Institute of Registered Music Teachers New Zealand.

Adlam first became a member of the Institute of Registered Music Teachers in the early 2000s. An organisation established under the Music Teachers Act 1981, the IRMTNZ provides “high-quality service to the community” under the “highest professional and ethical standards”.

This news comes after Trinity of London College confirmed it has opened an “internal safeguarding inquiry” into a music examiner, believed to be Adlam, following The Spinoff’s reporting of his behaviour. “Our investigation is being pursued as a matter of the utmost importance as we consider our candidates’ wellbeing and safety to be our top priority,” the college’s statement reads.

Read the full story here.

If you have information relevant to this story you’d like to share, email in confidence.

War of words between former pals Donald Trump and Piers Morgan

(Photo / Twitter)

I didn’t have “Piers Morgan becomes enemy of the right” on my 2022 bingo card and yet here we are.

Controversial broadcaster Piers Morgan, who last year left a top rating UK breakfast show over his comments about Meghan Markle, has successfully pissed off Donald Trump this week.

Morgan, who won the first season of Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice show, has long been friends with the business mogul and disgraced former US president. But no more. Morgan recently interviewed Trump for the first episode of his upcoming TV talk show. During that chat, the broadcaster pressed Trump over his claims the 2020 election was rigged.

The teaser trailer for the interview appeared to show Trump storm off the set. However, the former president has hit back and claimed the trailer has been edited in a misleading manner.

Trump subsequently labelled Morgan a fool and chucked in his buzz phrase of “fake news” for good measure.

Along with upsetting Trump, the supposedly “fake” trailer has also angered the ex-president’s family, UK politician-turned-shock jock Nigel Farrage, reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner and a whole host of other right wing personalities.

The full interview is set to air next week.

(Photo / Twitter)

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.

The high fashion pet clothing line putting a spotlight on road safety

Your dog will never shine so bright (Image: Supplied; additional design: Tina Tiller)

The remarkable collaboration making pets safer around roads: The team at Southern Cross Pet Insurance are on a mission to use data and innovation to help pets live their best lives for longer.

In a remarkable collaboration, they’ve teamed up with fashion designer Matthew Adams Dolan to create a line of hi-vis pet couture. VIS – The Road Safety Collection is the first foray into pet fashion for the designer who’s worked with celebs like Gigi Hadid, Rihanna and Lady Gaga.

The line of pet jackets, tops and bandanas is designed to help pets be seen and be safe around the roads as the evenings get darker earlier.

Find out more about VIS – The Road Safety Collection and go in to win a VIS piece for your fashion-loving pet here.

True crime fans, rejoice

True crime fans, your next obsession has arrived. Although, to be honest, if you’re a real true crime aficionado you’re probably all over this story already.

The Staircase, an incredible documentary series available on Netflix, has been adapted into a starry HBO miniseries set to premiere next month.

The new trailer has been released today. While the show appears to keep pretty in line with the TV documentary, the fleeting presence of an owl suggests it will include theories promulgated in other media as well. I’ll be watching if not just for Colin Firth and Toni Collette.

Team that will help create the new public media entity announced

Image: Archi Banal

The team charged with creating the new public media entity has been announced, and it includes a former cabinet minister and representatives from the industry itself.

The establishment board will help formalise the merger between RNZ and TVNZ that was confirmed earlier this year.

The Spinoff’s founder and host of The Fold podcast, Duncan Greive, told me that the members of the establishment board are arguably more interesting than the merger itself. “They will design the new entity, a hugely impactful piece of work that will likely determine the relative success or failure of the venture,” Greive said. “The current chairs of both TVNZ and RNZ are represented, and there are multiple former screen industry CEOs in Jim Mather and Michael Anderson.”

He added: “Tracey Martin [ex-minister and NZ First MP] carries on from her experience assessing the case for the merger, ensuring political representation, and Barbara Dreaver [TVNZ’s pacific correspondent] will ensure that the voice of workers across the two entities is heard. The two youngest members are Bailey Mackey, representing the production sector, and Aleisha Staples, who has a tech background – each are vital communities.”

Greive said his primary critique was the lack of youth and creator experience on the board. “The missing audience for the merged entity is under 35s, who behave very differently to older New Zealanders in terms of their media consumption,” he said. “The very idea of a big, centralised organisation runs contra many current behavioural trends, and it’s crucial that this audience is closely consulted and its real consumption habits – as opposed to the consumption politicians wish they’d have – is taken into account.”

The new media outlet is expected to launch mid next year. Until then, both RNZ and TVNZ will continue to operate as normal.

Five quick questions with our new Bulletin editor

TSO Bulletin : Live Updates

You might have noticed we’ve nabbed a new Bulletin editor, the wonderful Anna Rawhiti-Connell. She started this week and has been absolutely nailing it. You’ll see bits and pieces from her throughout the live updates and across the site, and of course in your inbox every morning, so I thought now would be a good opportunity to get to know her a bit better.

Tell me a bit about yourself? Where might our readers know you from?

I’ve been writing for five years and working in social media for 15 years. I was given my start as a columnist and opinion writer at Newsroom and I’m very grateful to them for that. I’ve also written for RNZ and North and South – I did a cover story for them on anxiety and this time of existential dread last year. I started contributing regularly to the Spinoff in September 2021. I’ve written some very fun stuff like The Art of the Plod about being shit at something and doing it anyway, and more serious, reflective pieces on the protests, drinking and Louisa Wall’s legacy.

What are you loving about The Bulletin after a week in the role?

The pace and breadth of it. I won’t lie, I’m pretty tired right now and the word “inflation” and the names of all the journos covering the PM’s trip are haunting my dreams but The Bulletin is this great, challenging puzzle to put together every day. I was always quite good at reading comprehension tests at school but this is that on steroids. Prep starts the day before a Bulletin goes out so you’re looking at things and wondering whether that day’s main focus will hold tomorrow while also casting backwards for context and forwards to anticipate how that issue might look next week, or next month. For me, giving people context really matters – news is fast so looking at how stories build over time to pull out the central threads and background is a big part of the job. News has a cadence and you start to see patterns like Haley Joel Osment saw dead people in The Sixth Sense.

What topics are you most looking forward to diving into?

This is the hardest question you’ve asked me because it feels like the answer is “all of them” right now but I’m conscious I’ve spent the week reading hundreds of news stories. I think the cost of living will be a very big part of what we talk about this year but it’s important that it doesn’t become wallpaper or shorthand, and that we don’t skip over the very real ways it affects people. The health sector reforms will be a focus as well (I have a particular bunch of bugbears about mental health and the way we talk about it). We’re absolutely not clear of Covid-19 yet, whether we’re talking about the virus itself or the debate about just how much societal, economic and political change it’s wrought.

You’ve had a couple of formidable Bulletin editors before you – were you a fan before getting the gig?

A big fan. I bailed up anyone who worked at the Spinoff after The Bulletin launched to tell them how great I thought it was. That included Alex Braae [The Bulletin’s founding editor]. No one was really curating news like that in New Zealand then. It was before the big Substack and newsletter wave and I still think it’s a really useful and generous approach for subscribers – to pull from all the great journalism and build that editorial context. Justin [Giovannetti, editor two] added a whole new dimension to it, being based at the Beehive and arriving here from Canada. He could see things differently and was right in the middle of things during the protests at parliament. As I said, big fan.

Are you a morning person or is coffee your best friend?

My alarm didn’t go off this morning but I still woke up at 4.30am which is incredibly reassuring and/or freakish. I am a morning person but also like coffee. Just one though, when I get up, with a banana. Might add some kiwifruit after this week’s triumphant PR blitz. I’ve learned I write best from around 4am. I also got into the habit of waking very early during lockdown last year and reading far too much news. I feel pretty happy about that habit morphing out of an obsession with the New York Times Covid tracker and into this job. It feels like a healthier direction for me.

Get more of Anna’s musings along with a daily dose of the most important journalism by signing up to The Bulletin here.

What the government can do to ease inflation and the rise in the cost of living

Slightly lost among the shouting about who to blame for the rise in inflation, was minister Megan Woods suggesting that the government could consider extending the fuel excise tax cut introduced in March. There has already been speculation that the 50% discount on public transport fares could be made permanent. Susan Edmunds at Stuff spoke to economists about what they think the government should do. Child Poverty Action Group economist, Susan St John wants urgent reform of Working for Families to ease what Welington City Mission’s Murray Edridge describes as a “catastrophic” situation for those already struggling with rising food, rent and petrol costs.

Supply chain issue severity between a six and eight on scale of 1-10.  

Sometimes it feels like we’ll be saying “supply chain issues” for the rest of our lives. The government’s cast ahead too, releasing a paper this week aimed at “future proofing” the country’s supply chain. Dr Bill Wang, a senior lecturer in supply chain management at AUT, thinks it’s too focused on the domestic side. In comments via the Science Media Centre, he said, ​​”This paper is good to focus on low emissions, resilience, productivity and innovation, and equity and safety, but it overlooks the international freight and supply chain challenges.” You only need to look at the world’s largest port in Shanghai right now. It remains operational but, as NZ Herald (paywalled) reports, is heavily congested, with transport and factory workers in lockdown.

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.

NZ and Japan to strengthen cooperation, bolster security ties

Ardern Japan

Jacinda Ardern has met with her Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida in Tokyo overnight.

The prime minister is on a trade tour of Asia, marking her first time out of New Zealand since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold two years ago.

The visit to Japan has been more than just dancing kiwifruit. The pair of prime ministers agreed to strengthen cooperation between our two countries with a focus on political links, defence and security, trade and economic growth, climate and sustainability, the Pacific and the broader Indo-Pacific region.

“The global strategic environment is volatile and we face unprecedented challenges,” said Ardern. “Japan and New Zealand will work together to support economic recovery from Covid-19, combat climate change, promote peace and stability in our region and uphold the global rules based order.”

Ardern said Japan was one of New Zealand’s most important partners in the Indo-Pacific region. “We have a strong trade relationship, common values and a shared commitment to an open, inclusive, stable and prosperous region. We are well aligned in our views and approaches to the challenges facing our region,” she said.

An information sharing agreement will also be negotiated, said Ardern, to enable closer engagement on international security issues. A spokesperson for the prime minister told RNZ the information that could be shared through this agreement would not be intelligence.

You can read more on the PM’s trade tour in today’s edition of The Bulletin.

Jacinda Ardern and Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida shake hands at the start of the talks at the latter’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan, 21 April 2022. (Photo by Kimimasa Mayama/Pool/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)