blog nov 23


Daily Covid-19 numbers remain above 200

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 23, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Get in touch with me on

Today’s top headlines

Nov 23 2021

A new graph shows a sharp rise in Covid-related deaths

There have been two Covid-19-related deaths in as many days in Auckland hospitals this week, a pattern that has become sadly familiar in recent weeks as case numbers have risen. This new graph from our head of data, Harkanwal Singh, shows while deaths didn’t increase rapidly at the start of the delta outbreak, the pattern has changed starkly.

For more graphs on the delta outbreak, see our Covid-19 tracker

Today’s key Covid-19 numbers, graphed

Today saw the second highest number of new Covid-19 cases recorded from across the pandemic in New Zealand, with 215 announced at 1pm.

Below, view some of the freshly updated graphs from The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker page, focusing on the key numbers from today’s delta update.

Ardern told to apologise over Judith Collins jibe

Jacinda Ardern was forced to apologise in parliament this afternoon after referring to Judith Collins as “the other leader of the opposition”.

The prime minister was responding to a question from Act Party leader David Seymour when she made the remark. It was picked up by speaker Trevor Mallard, who said it was clearly a deliberate act on the prime minister’s part to misstate a central constitutional tenant, in this case, that New Zealand only has one leader of the opposition. Ardern was told to withdraw the comment and apologise.

Both Seymour and Collins had been questioning Ardern on why managed isolation is still used for overseas arrivals into the country – most who have already been vaccinated and tested negative – while positive Covid cases are allowed to isolate at home around the country.

There are currently more than 4600 Covid-positive cases isolating at home, while the number of confirmed cases being detected in MIQ has slowed to a dribble.

“We do intend to change the way that we are operating at the border,” said Ardern. “Even with pre-departure testing, vaccination checks, and a period of self-isolation, modelling suggests we will have a not insignificant number of cases seeded even with those protections. We still need to be cautious.”

A date for any changes to the MIQ system, and the operation of the international border, has not been announced.

84% of New Zealand now fully vaccinated

There were 15,224 vaccine doses administered yesterday, made up of 4,777 first doses and 10,447 second doses. To date, 91% of eligible people in New Zealand have had their first dose and 84% are fully vaccinated.

Here’s how each DHB is tracking in the race to 90%.

215 new Covid-19 cases confirmed, another death in hospital


There are 215 new community cases of Covid-19 across the North Island – one of the highest days on record. Of those, 196 are in Auckland, 11 are in Waikato, four are in Northland, one is in Bay of Plenty and two are in the Lakes DHB area. There is also one new case in the MidCentral DHB area being confirmed after it was announced yesterday.

The Ministry of Health is also reporting another Covid-related death. A person in their 50s has died at Auckland City Hospital after being admitted on November 17 with Covid-19.

Hospitalisations for Covid-19 are sitting at 88 today, including two still being assessed. There are now six people in intensive care.

Today’s case details

There are four new cases being reported in Northland today. One case in Whangārei was already isolating and there are three new cases in Kaikohe – all four cases have known links. All active cases are being cared for in the community. A case that was in Whangārei Hospital has been discharged.

In Waikato, 11 new cases have been confirmed. Six are from Huntly, three from Kawhia, one from Te Kūiti, and one from Ōtorohanga. Five of the new cases have been linked and the remaining six are under investigation.

As aforementioned, there is one new case to report in the Bay of Plenty today. The Ministry of Health has not specified their location, however previous cases have been confirmed in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.

A close contact has also been confirmed after a Covid-positive individual visited a Tauranga retirement village. This situation continues to be closely managed by the Public Health Unit.

Finally, there are two new cases in the Lakes district. One case is currently receiving care in Rotorua Hospital.

A message from the editor

While we wait for today’s Covid-19 numbers, here’s Mad Chapman: 

Like any good door-to-door salesperson, I’m about to cheerily introduce myself and then, in the very next breath, ask you for money. Hi! I’m Madeleine (or Mad) Chapman, previously an intern at The Spinoff, then a staff writer, senior writer and now editor. It certainly wasn’t the plan to step into this role in the middle of a delta outbreak, nor did I think my first weeks on the job would unfold alongside New Zealand’s largest city slowly coming out of stagnation. But despite the strange and unfortunate circumstances, The Spinoff team has stepped up once again, working tirelessly (and mostly from our bedrooms) to bring you the most important news when you need it, and the lighter moments when things are looking a little bleak. We’ve been able to continue this work because of the ongoing contributions from our members, and I can’t thank you enough.

But I can boldly ask that you consider becoming a member if you aren’t one already. If you’ve read something on our site recently that you enjoyed or appreciated, consider it a koha for that alone, because every dollar donated through The Spinoff Members is used to create more of the work you see every day. And with Christmas around the corner (which I’m finding genuinely hard to believe), there’s no such thing as shipping delays on a membership of The Spinoff bought for whānau and friends.

Martin Devlin quits Newstalk ZB after employment dispute, legal action

Martin Devlin won’t be returning to the Newstalk ZB airwaves.

The long-serving sports broadcaster has been away from his weekend show for months after employment investigations sparked by allegations he tried to punch a colleague and sent “unwelcome” messages to others. He also suffered “an almost fatal mental health event” in July.

In a joint statement published by the Herald, Devlin said choosing to resign was “one of the hardest decisions” he’s had to make.

“Radio has been my life for 32 years, it’s the only career I’ve ever had and wanted, and it’s been an incredible privilege,” Devlin said. “I just don’t want the pressure and scrutiny that comes with hosting a nationwide radio show at the moment. I will definitely be back in some shape or form but for now I want to eliminate the stressors and rediscover the joy I have for working.”

Devlin had been pursuing legal action against his employers, arguing to be put back on an air temporarily.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Auckland Theatre Company launch exciting 2022 season after Covid crashed this year’s plans

Auckland Theatre Company, Tāmaki Makaurau’s largest theatre company, has announced their new season for 2022, which comes in the wake of the company cancelling its three remaining shows of 2021. The shows are Grand Horizons (a Broadway comedy about the generational divide), Lysander’s Aunty (an uproarious take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Witi’s Wahine (a tribute to the women of Witi Ihimaera’s literature), Scenes from a Yellow Peril (a provocation on racism in Aotearoa), Long Day’s Journey Into Night (a classic starring Theresa Healey), Dawn Raids (Oscar Kightley’s landmark play, 25 years on), The Made (a new drama from Emily Perkins) and North by Northwest (a remounting of a Melbourne Theatre Company production with a local cast and crew).

Artistic director and CEO Jonathan Bielski said: “Our 2022 season speaks to connections. Human connections. When the connections between us have been challenged and disrupted like never before, we yearn for a return to the bonds between us and our stories and the shared experience of seeing live theatre.”

My take on the programme is: This is exactly what the city’s biggest theatre company should be doing. It’s ATC’s most appealing and forward-thinking programme in a decade, while also attending to the reality that it is a mainstream company and has to appeal to that audience. It does has a tasting menu vibe, but the blend of local voices – five of these eight plays are by New Zealanders – and international shows of scale is one that really excites me not just for next year but the years ahead.

Brian and Hannah Tamaki charged over Auckland protest appearance

A 63-year-old man and 60-year-old woman have been charged after a large anti-lockdown protest in Auckland’s Domain over the weekend.

It’s believed the pair are Brian and Hannah Tamaki of Destiny Church. They were both summoned to an Auckland police station this morning over their involvement in the protest.

According to police, both face charges for failing to comply with Covid-19 health rules, while the man will also appear in court for breaching bail. Brian Tamaki had been warned at his most recent court appearance that he could face jail time should he reoffend.

Police would not rule out further arrests being made in relation to this event.

Earlier today, Tamaki told media he was “innocent” and claimed to have followed all Covid-19 restrictions while attending the protest.

New poll shows National voters would pick Bridges over Collins

National’s Simon Bridges hasn’t ruled out another go at the party’s leadership. And, based on new polling, it looks like he’s got the endorsement of those who matter most.

The latest polls show National hasn’t been able to capitalise on confusion caused by the government’s Covid-19 response and is still sitting around the 26% mark. Instead, the Act Party has soared up to 16% – meaning it would double its number of MPs.

The news hasn’t been good for Judith Collins, either. Her personal popularity rating now sits at around the 5% mark, half Seymour’s score and not far ahead of her caucus colleagues Bridges and Christoper Luxon.

And, in a further insult, the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll showed National voters preferred Bridges to Collins – 41.8% to 39.9%. However: almost 19% didn’t have a preference.

In a smiley appearance on Newshub last night, Bridges repeatedly told Tova O’Brien it wasn’t “his intention” to seek the National leadership for a second time. But, he also wouldn’t rule it out. “I hope at the end of the day I’m a bit older and maybe possibly a bit wiser than I was when I was leader of the opposition,” he said.

A smiley Simon Bridges outside parliament
A smiley Simon Bridges (Image / Newshub)

Interactive map lets you check travel time to hospitals

The Auckland hard border lifts on December 15, clearing the way for those who are double-vaxed and/or have returned a negative Covid test to travel around the country, which by then will be demarcated according to the “traffic light” framework. As explored in this article today, that will inevitably see the virus trickle into just about every part of the country, including many with comparatively low vaccination, high levels of socioeconomic deprivation and strained, often understaffed health systems.

On top of that, there’s the distance to advanced healthcare. Maps by health geographer Jesse Whitehead have been souped up into an interactive by our head of data Harkanwal Singh that let you select any part of the country (including a holiday destination, for example) to see how many minutes it would take to drive to the DHB base hospital or one of the five metro hospitals that provide the highest level of care.

Check it out here.

NZ dystopian comedy Creamerie goes global

Creamerie, a New Zealand dystopian comedy set in a world similar to that of the Handmaid’s Tale, will soon air for US audiences on streaming service Hulu.

All six episodes will launch on the December 9.

The show, set eight years after a viral plague wiped out almost all the world’s, premiered earlier this year to rave reviews and has already developed a legion of fans here and across the ditch.

TVNZ’s acclaimed series Creamerie breathed fresh life into the male-elimination concept. (Photo: TVNZ)

In a statement, director Roseanne Liang said she was “beyond ecstatic” that US audiences would get to see the show. She described it as an “entertaining post-apocalyptic comedy that digs into morality, friendship and human dignity in the face of sheer wtf-ery”.

“And when they’ve had enough of the world’s political reality, we invite them to kick back, relax and bathe in the warm weirdness of Creamerie,” she added.

If you’ve somehow missed Creamerie here in NZ, all episodes are available to watch on TVNZ OnDemand. 

Vaccine verifier app launches

The app needed to verify vaccine passes at businesses, gatherings and events has officially launched. You can download the “NZ Pass Verifier” from both the Google and Apple app stores.

The verifier app can be used by anyone; that means both those mandated to check vaccination status can operate legally and those who might wish to make their birthday party a vax-only event can do so too.


The NZ pass verifier app
(Image / App store)

Vaccine mandate for hospitality, events workers kicks in December 3

Workers in areas where vaccine passes will be mandated have until next Friday – December 3 – to get their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. They will then have until January 17 to get fully vaccinated.

Next Friday also marks the start of the traffic light system, when vaccine passes will be required by workers and patrons at a number of businesses across the country.

In order to prepare for that transition, the government’s also announced a new “vaccination assessment tool” will be able to be used mid-December to help employers decide if they would require vaccination for different types of work.

“Employers and employees have been asking for certainty on what roles may need to be done by vaccinated workers under the Covid-19 Protection Framework,” said workplace relations minister Michael Wood. “We’ve developed a tool to help clarify what work should be covered by vaccinated workers and to create a simple and clear tool for assessing when it is reasonable to require vaccination for other work.”

PM Jacinda Ardern and Michael Wood
Michael Wood (Image / Supplied)

The tool builds on guidance provided by WorkSafe and has had input from BusinessNZ and the CTU. It will specify four key factors, at least three of which must be met, before it would be reasonable to require vaccination for particular work.

“This new process won’t override risk assessments that businesses have already done under the existing health and safety guidelines,” said Wood. “Businesses can choose which one they use, and any assessments done to date remain valid.”

Changes are being made this week, under urgency to the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020.

Robertson: Hairdressers ‘easier to manage’ than hospitality or beauty businesses

The deputy prime minister has defended allowing hairdressers in Auckland to reopen early, while keeping hospitality and beauty businesses closed.

From this Thursday, hairdressers and barbers will be able to reopen for booked appointments provided they require proof of vaccination status. It comes roughly a week before the entire country moves into the new traffic light framework and Auckland’s lockdown will formally end.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB, Grant Robertson said hairdressers will be a trial run of the vaccine pass. “We’re using hairdressing rather than hospitality because it’s a smaller group of people, it’s a more confined environment and it’s easier to manage people in small groups,” he said.

It’s possible not everything will go to plan immediately, so it was important to trial the system before the country fully reopens. However, Robertson rejected the assertion the government wasn’t yet confident enough in its vaccine passes to allow larger businesses like restaurants to open.

“The decision was made to make it a confined group of people to trial it and make sure we get it right,” said Robertson. “Lines need to be drawn in some particular place… I think it’s important we have a trial we can manage, hairdressing was the one that was chosen.”

Brian and Hannah Tamaki to appear at police station after lockdown protest

Destiny church leader Brian Tamaki and his wife Hannah have been asked to visit Auckland police station this morning over their roles in a recent large anti-lockdown protest.

Brian Tamaki addressed thousands who had gathered on Saturday at the Auckland Domain, in contravention of alert levels. That’s despite previously being charged twice for helping to organise gatherings. A condition of his bail was not to attend or organise any other protests.

In a Facebook livestream, Tamaki confirmed he had been summoned and said he had no fear. “I believe [in] your freedom and your rights. My freedom and my rights,” said Tamaki, who claimed he was “pro-choice” and not anti-vaccination.

Tamaki also invited his followers to support him today. “Why don’t we turn up tomorrow and set Auckland free?” he added.

(Image / Getty Images)