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blog march 24


Deal to resettle Australian refugees finalised

Hello and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for March 24, bringing you the latest breaking news from New Zealand. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund and can be reached via email at Or say hi on Twitter.

The latest

  • Covid-related hospitalisations have dropped, but 11 more people have died overnight.
  • A deal has been finalised to resettle 150 Australian asylum seekers every year for three years.
  • Extreme weather on the East Coast has seen major flooding and evacuations. Civil defence minister Kiri Allan is heading to Gisborne to assess the damage.
  • Covid restrictions will be dramatically eased over the next 10 days, starting with the end of outdoor gathering limits this weekend. You can read our wrap of the key details here.

Have you considered joining The Spinoff Members? Your support helps keep the live updates live and updated. Click here to find out more.

blog march 24

Deal to resettle Australian refugees finalised

Hello and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for March 24, bringing you the latest breaking news from New Zealand. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund and can be reached via email at Or say hi on Twitter.

The latest

  • Covid-related hospitalisations have dropped, but 11 more people have died overnight.
  • A deal has been finalised to resettle 150 Australian asylum seekers every year for three years.
  • Extreme weather on the East Coast has seen major flooding and evacuations. Civil defence minister Kiri Allan is heading to Gisborne to assess the damage.
  • Covid restrictions will be dramatically eased over the next 10 days, starting with the end of outdoor gathering limits this weekend. You can read our wrap of the key details here.

Have you considered joining The Spinoff Members? Your support helps keep the live updates live and updated. Click here to find out more.

Mar 24 2022

Troy Kingi, Maisey Rika, Seth Haapu walk away with gold at the Silver Scrolls

Troy Kingi (Image / Supplied)

Troy Kingi (Te Arawa, Ngāpuhi, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui) has walked away with the 2021 APRA Silver Scroll Award | Kaitito Kaiaka for his funk song ‘All Your Ships Have Sailed’. The track comes from his album The Ghost of Freddie Cesar, the fourth in the singer-songwriter’s “10 10 10” series, which will see him release ten albums across ten genres in ten years. The ceremony was held online due to the ongoing pandemic, forcing APRA to postpone the awards three times.

It’s the third time that Kingi has been a finalist with the award, and this will see his name engraved alongside other Aotearoa music icons like Aldous Harding, Marlon Williams, Bic Runga, Scribe and Dave Dobbyn.

Other awards on the night included the Maioha Award going to Maisey Rika (Te Whānau-a-Apanui) and Seth Haapu (Ngati Porou, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Atihaunui a Pāpārangi) for ‘Waitī Waitā’ from Rika’s Matariki inspired album Ngā Mata o the Ariki Tāwhirimatea, the SOUNZ Contemporary Award | Te Tohu Ahaha going to David Donaldson, Janet Roddick and Steve Roche for their Covid-response project The Bewilderness.

The two composition awards for film and TV went to Arli Lieberman for Savage and Karl Steven for Black Hands.

You can watch the full awards presentation on APRA’s YouTube page here, and if you watch nothing else, then please, please watch the performance of ‘All Your Ships Have Sailed’ by Deva Mahal and an incredible band of nine wahine toa.

Have you ever seen a turkey riding down a river?

Now you have, thanks to this video from Newshub.

NZ finalises agreement to resettle 150 Australian refugees each year

Immigration minister Kris Faafoi is expected to make a major speech today (Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

New Zealand will become home for up to 150 Australian asylum seekers every year for three years under a new agreement.

The offer’s been on the table from our government for several years, but has until now been rejected by Australia. It will mean refugees currently housed on Nauru will be able to enter New Zealand under our existing refugee quota programme.

“New Zealand is very pleased that Australia has taken up the offer,” said immigration minister Kris Faafoi. “New Zealand has a long and proud history of refugee resettlement and this arrangement is another example of how we are fulfilling our humanitarian international commitment.”

Australia’s home affairs minister Karen Andrews said the arrangement would not apply to anyone who attempted to illegally enter the country by boat. “Australia remains firm – illegal maritime arrivals will not settle here permanently,” she said. “Anyone who attempts to breach our borders will be turned back or sent to Nauru.”

She thanked Faafoi for engaging “constructively” throughout the process. “I’m pleased that our two countries were able to reach this agreement. Australia will continue to work with New Zealand, and the UNHCR, to operationalise the arrangement.”

Gull cuts petrol prices (but just for one day)

The pain at the pump is real (Image / Tina Tiller & Getty Images)

I promise I won’t write an update every time there’s a sale on fuel, but as The Spinoff’s unofficial petrol correspondent I felt obliged to tell you Gull has cut prices for the next day – and it’s pretty good.

The Gull closest to me, on Marua Road in Ellerslie, is 30 cents per litre cheaper than the nearby Z – with prices for 91 now below $2.50 a litre.

The price cut applies nationwide but only until midday tomorrow.

It follows the government’s recent 25 cent per litre price cut, ordered in the wake of a global fuel crisis.

Nē? goes back to school

Nē? hosts Leonie and Meriana have both headed off to full-immersion kura this year. In this week’s episode of the podcast, they talk about what it’s been like and get gassed up by Te Kuru and special guest, kaiako Hēmi Kelly.

Follow Nē? on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider. 


East Coast relief fund set up after 48 hours of severe weather

The government has topped up a mayoral relief fund with $175,000 to help people impacted by the recent severe weather on the East Coast.

Civil defence minister Kiri Allan visited Tairāwhiti today, and said the community had dealt with a number of weather events over the past year. “The latest downpour has been really tough on the region, with numerous evacuations and some outer rural communities cut off. The community needs swift support to help get back on its feet after this latest setback,” she said.

“While we know there’s been considerable damage, it will take some days to understand the full impact of the storm.”

Waka Kotahi and its roading contractors were “working tirelessly” to clean up following the floods, said Allan. “And I know the Ministry for Primary Industries is also working really closely with groups on the ground and has its welfare emergency management team deployed to the region as additional on the ground support.”

Covid-19 latest: 11 new deaths, hospitalisations drop again, 18,423 new cases

Image: Toby Morris

There have been 11 more deaths from Covid-19, bringing New Zealand’s pandemic death toll up to 221 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths to 10.

Of the 11 deaths being reporting today, two people are from the Auckland region, two are from Bay of Plenty, six are from Waikato, and one is from the Wellington region. Two of these people were in their 50s, one person was in their 70s, four people were in their 80s, and four people were in their 90s.

Six were men and five were women.

Once again, hospitalisations have dropped. There are now 913 people being treated with Covid-19, including 28 in intensive care.

Speaking from the Ministry of Health, Ashley Bloomfield said this was “quite a drop” on yesterday. The decrease was mainly in Auckland, said Bloomfield, where hospitalisations have dropped to 514 down from 576 yesterday. There are now 148 people in North Shore hospital, 207 in Middlemore and 159 in Auckland. “This fits with the drop in cases we’re seeing there,” said Bloomfioeld.

There are 18,423 new community cases. In the seven days to March 20, there were 24 new cases per thousand in the country, compared with 27 per thousand the day before. However, the DHBs with the highest rates are Tairāwhiti (44 per thousand) and Hawke’s Bay (38 per thousand).

Auckland has registered another drop in new cases, with 3,629 today. That’s still the highest regional count nationwide but Canterbury is close behind – 3,150 cases were confirmed there overnight.

It’s also clear cases are increasing in the South Island, said Bloomfield.

Māori have the highest rates of infection at 35 per thousand, then Pacific at 28 per thousand. NZ European and Asian ethnic groups are currently at 21 per thousand. There has been a decrease in the number of cases reported among Māori for the week to March 20, but hospitalisations have increased.

In Tairāwhiti, Māori case rates are the highest in the country, at around 112 per thousand.

Bloomfield said delivery of the vaccination programme was “as high as I might have aspired to but higher than I might have expected”. There is now ongoing work to make sure there can be even more equitable access to vaccinations, particularly for Māori children. “Māori parents were more likely to wait for a bit until they got [their children] avccinated, I think they wanted assurances around safety.”

Health officials did know how to talk with Māori, said Bloomfield when asked to admit they did not.

Watch: Bloomfield to front today’s Covid update

Dr Ashley Bloomfield speaking at yesterday’s press conference (Getty Images)

Ashley Bloomfield will be joined by the deputy director-general of Māori health John Whaanga for today’s Covid-19 omicron briefing.

You can tune in below. We’ll have full coverage from 1pm.


A dispatch from the East Coast flood frontlines

As wild weather continues to batter the North Island’s East Coast, we hear from a marae leader about how their flood defences are holding up.

Speaking to Don Rowe for The Spinoff, chair of Hinemaurea marae Zak Horomia said he was unable to sleep as the storm broke. “I worry every time there is a storm. And it was just torrential rain and thunder and lightning,” he said. “A lot of people were evacuated during the night and in the early hours of the morning.”

Read the full conversation here

Hinemaurea ki Mangatuna marae on the East Coast is the soul of the community (Photos: Josie McClutchie, additional design by Tina Tiller)

Some regions could move to ‘orange’ alert while others stay at red – Ardern

(Image / Getty)

No region will move to the “orange” setting of our traffic light system until at least the first week of April.

Cabinet will review the traffic light system on April 4 – the same day most vaccine mandates are dropped.

Speaking to media in Auckland today, Jacinda Ardern said government will continue to monitor the system and the move to orange will happen as soon as possible. “Different regions could be at different levels of the traffic light system,” said Ardern. “It all depends on pressure on the health system.”

Asked whether that could see Auckland dropped to orange earlier, Ardern indicated that was a possibility. “We will consider whether some [regions] are in a position to move earlier than others,” she said.

Postgraduate study isn’t just for career academics any more

Stack your learning, to get a Masters’ your way at The Mind Lab and Tech Futures Lab (Design: Archi Banal)

From our partners at The Mind Lab and Tech Futures Lab: For many, returning to study just isn’t an option when it means taking a break from earning, looking after the kids or working the extra hours involved with part-time study. 

Now The Mind Lab and Tech Futures Lab have created stackable micro-credential courses, which build into a Masters’ programme that works with your schedule.

The programmes are catered to your values and experiences, whether you’re a small business owner, a stay-at-home parent or an industry professional. And it’s designed to provide knowledge that’s immediately practically applicable to your workplace. 

Learn how to change your world with The Mind Lab and Tech Futures Lab today.

Lorde talks to her former selves in new music video

Lorde cancelled a Tel Aviv concert in 2018 after being urged to by fans (Photo: Getty)

Lorde has released the music for her latest single ‘Secrets From a Girl’ from her third studio album Solar Power.

Doing something of a Taylor Swift, the new video includes three versions of Lorde representing her three musical eras dating back to debut album Pure Heroine.

In a newsletter to fans, Lorde described the song, and video, as “me in communication with another version of me”.

“When we were plotting the video, Joel [Kefali, the video’s director] brought up some old film/TV tropes about groupings of women,” wrote Lorde. “It inspired me to identify three distinct parts of myself, and imagine what would happen if these parts were able to meet… and also be in an early-2000s style girl group music video together?!”

I’m not a massive fan of the track itself but the video is glorious – check it out below.

In other entertainment news…

  • Harry Styles has announced his third album, Harry’s House. It’ll be out in a couple of months time and you can check out the first teaser here.
  • We’re just a day away from the release of Aldous Harding’s fourth album Warm Chris – and I cannot wait. We’ll have heaps more to say about this on The Spinoff tomorrow.
  • Have you watched the new episode of The Spinoff’s webseries FIRST featuring Lance Savali? You should.
  • For fans of terrifying horror with a splash of social commentary, the first full length trailer for Alex Garland’s Men has been released. It looks incredible.
  • It’s the final day of Oscar voting. While Jane Campion’s Power of the Dog is still the frontrunner, Apple TV’s amazing drama Coda is closing in. Read more about the rise in support for that film here.
  • And closer to home: Fair Go has celebrated its 45th anniversary on our screens!

The average household’s expenses will increase $150 a week

ASB is warning that New Zealanders will need to find an extra $15 billion for expenses this year, or $150 per household. Interest reports that inflation is expected to make a major dent in the country’s budgets, eating up about 7% more of incomes. Most families will end 2022 poorer than they started it, the bank warned. Speaking in Auckland, the finance minister said the country would face a challenging year. However, as Stewart Sowman-Lund reports from Grant Robertson’s speech, the minister ruled out significant tax cuts for lower income New Zealanders. Robertson said a cut to GST, a deeply regressive tax, wouldn’t happen because he wants to avoid a debate about the difference between beetroot and canned beetroot.

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. 

Civil defence minister to visit flooded East Coast

The civil defence minister is heading to the flood-ravaged East Coast to assess the damage.

A state of emergency remains in place for the Tairāwhiti region, which is entirely cut off from the rest of the country. It comes after torrential rain led to extreme flooding and evacuations around the region.

According to RNZ, residents of low-lying areas along the Te Arai River and the Waipaoa River were asked to leave their properties overnight.

Kiri Allan will assess the impacts of the extreme weather and determine whether any government assistance is required. Further information is anticipated later today.

No, Jacinda Ardern and Tova O’Brien weren’t flatmates

It’s been one of the more persistent and bizarre online rumours from throughout the pandemic – that PM Jacinda Ardern used to live with broadcaster and political journo Tova O’Brien. That would explain why her interviews are so softball, right?!

Wrong! Firstly, O’Brien’s interviews are always tough but fair. Secondly, it’s not true. The pair addressed the rumour this morning on Today FM.

Mike Hosking annoyed by PM’s ‘condescending history lesson’ before Covid presser


Newstalk ZB broadcaster Mike Hosking wants to know why the prime minister gave a more than 20-minute speech during yesterday’s Covid press conference.

Jacinda Ardern outlined a number of key changes to our Covid response, but her speech included a lengthy preamble looking back over the pandemic in New Zealand.

Hosking wasn’t impressed. On his breakfast radio show today, he asked Covid minister Chris Hipkins: “Why does the prime minister bang on and give us a condescending history lesson every time she speaks and not just get to the detail?”

“The context the prime minister provides to the announcement is important,” replied Hipkins. “It is important to remember the journey we have been on in the last two years.”

Hosking wasn’t convinced: “We’ve all been on it. Why do we need reminding all the time? And why do we need to be told how brilliant you guys are?”

It wasn’t, said Hipkins, about saying how brilliant the government is. “I think New Zealanders can reflect with a good degree of pride on the overall response to Covid-19 over the last two years.”

Fellow ZB host, and Hosking’s wife, Kate Hawkesby was equally unimpressed. In an opinion piece published this morning on Newstalk ZB’s website titled “stop using press conferences as a time to gloat and give us a plan”, Hawkesby criticised the government for doing nothing.

“I knew they’d leave us languishing because 1) they’re out of touch, and 2) they don’t have a plan,” wrote Hawkesby. “What I didn’t bank on was how much high fiving they’d do of their own ability.”

It wasn’t just Hosking and Hawkesby infuriated by the PM’s podium address. Act Party leader David Seymour questioned why it took 22 minutes for Ardern to get to the detail. “A real leader would cut to the chase and then be open to scrutiny from journalists, not preach to us at length,” said Seymour.

Join Tova O’Brien on Tova, on Today FM, today

Tova O’Brien (Image: Supplied)

From our partners at Today FM: This week Today FM launched with an incredible lineup of shows from some of New Zealand’s favourite journalists. 

Tune in from 6.30 weekday mornings for Tova, the long-awaited morning show hosted by ex-political reporter Tova O’Brien with Mark Dye and newsreader Carly Flynn.

O’Brien’s signature cut-throat interview style and journalistic eye brings you the news that matters most to New Zealanders. 

Later, join other big names like Duncan Garner, Leah Panapa, Mark Richardson, Lloyd Burr and Wilhelmina Shrimpton throughout the day as they delve into the big, and not-so-big, stories of the day. 

Listen to Tova, 6.30am-9am every weekday on Today FM.