blog march 25

Live UpdatesMar 25 2022

Covid death toll keeps growing

It’s Friday! Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Get in touch with me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The latest

  • New Zealand’s Covid death toll has risen by 13, up to 234. Hospitalisations, however, have dropped again down to 899. All the key numbers can be found here.
  • The Act Party has announced it will campaign for a referendum on Māori co-governance. Unsurprisingly, it’s proving controversial. More here.
  • Covid researchers have been incredibly accessible via the media throughout the pandemic, but that’s opened them up to abuse and harassment.
  • Plus: Test your knowledge in The Spinoff’s weekly news quiz!

Want to help support the live updates? Click here to learn about The Spinoff Members.

blog march 25

Covid death toll keeps growing

It’s Friday! Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Get in touch with me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The latest

  • New Zealand’s Covid death toll has risen by 13, up to 234. Hospitalisations, however, have dropped again down to 899. All the key numbers can be found here.
  • The Act Party has announced it will campaign for a referendum on Māori co-governance. Unsurprisingly, it’s proving controversial. More here.
  • Covid researchers have been incredibly accessible via the media throughout the pandemic, but that’s opened them up to abuse and harassment.
  • Plus: Test your knowledge in The Spinoff’s weekly news quiz!

Want to help support the live updates? Click here to learn about The Spinoff Members.

Mar 25 2022

A reminder: Some Covid rules are easing tonight

From 11.59pm tonight some of our Covid-19 restrictions are being loosened.

Here’s a brief summary of the changes:

  • Outdoor gathering limits will be removed entirely.
  • Indoor gathering limits will be increased to 200 – but social distancing will still be required.
  • QR code scanning will no longer be required (but it’s advised you don’t delete the Covid Tracer app).
  • Face masks will only be required indoors.

For a more detail summary of the changes (including those coming into effect on April 4), click here.

What makes a Taika series a Taika series?

Today is finale day for Taika Waititi and Rhys Darby’s pirate bromance series Our Flag Means Death. I’ve enjoyed it a lot more than I anticipated, especially since Waititi’s Blackbeard came into the frame midseason. If you’re a fan of off kilter comedy, sort of in the vein of What We Do in the Shadows, I’d recommend it – but it definitely won’t be for everyone.

I stumbled across this great piece from Vulture about “what makes a Taika Waititi TV series a Taika Waititi TV series” – and it’s well worth a read. The main thesis is that Waititi’s work often involves family and the concept of a “chosen” family. It makes sense when you think of Boy, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and the more recent Reservation Dogs.

You can check out the full series of Our Flag Means Death on Neon. For more, The Spinoff’s Alex Casey chatted to Rhys Darby earlier in the month about the show and his career.

Image: Archi Banal

The shape of the outbreak

Here’s a look at how our omicron outbreak is tracking ahead of tonight’s easing of restrictions.

There are now 899 people in hospital with Covid-19, the fifth consecutive daily drop in hospitalisations.

Daily community cases have been trending down in Auckland, but the nationwide numbers are fairly static again: just under 16,000 were recorded today.

Comedy Gala to return after festival scrapped

Just one week after the 2022 NZ International Comedy Festival was cancelled due to the ongoing omicron outbreak, new dates have been announced for the Best Foods Comedy Galas.

The Auckland show will go ahead on Friday September 9 at the Civic Theatre, while the Wellington show will take place on Friday September 30 at the Michael Fowler Centre. The Auckland show will be recorded for broadcast on Three. 

The first line-up announcement will follow in the coming weeks, existing tickets will be automatically transferred to the new dates, and refunds will be available.

A previous Comedy Festival Gala.

What did we make of Aldous Harding’s new album?

New Zealand singer-songwriter Aldous Harding is back with a brand new album, Warm Chris. Bottomline: it’s great.

Here at The Spinoff we’re pretty much all mega fans of Harding and her work, so it was with great excitement that I checked out her new album and jotted down some thoughts.

Here are my first impressions:

I love how unique Aldous Harding’s sound is, but also how every album has a distinct feel about it. This is very clearly an Aldous Harding album but it does not feel like a retread of what we’ve heard before. It sounds new. There’s a more mellow sound to all the tracks on Warm Chris. My personal favourites from initial listens are ‘Tick Tock’ and ‘Fever’. However, I think it’s unusual that ‘Old Peel’, released as a single last year, is not on this album as it would have fitted in nicely. The only thing missing, for me, is a big, memorable track à la ‘Remembering My Man’ or ‘The Barrel’ from Harding’s previous work and ‘Old Peel’ could have been that song.

For more of our hot takes on Aldous Harding’s ‘Warm Chris’, click here.

Aldous Harding
Aldous Harding’s Warm Chris is the singer’s fourth studio album. (Image: Supplied / Treatment: Tina Tiller)

Covid-19 latest: 13 more deaths, hospitalisations drop to 899, another 15,871 cases

There have been 13 more deaths linked to Covid-19, bringing the country’s death toll to 234 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths to 11.

Of the 13 new deaths, four people are from the Auckland region, one is from Bay of Plenty, one is from Waikato, one is from Hawke’s Bay, one is from Taranaki, one is from MidCentral, and four are from the Wellington region.

One of these people was in their 30s, three people were in their 60s, five people were in their 70s, three people were in their 80s, and one person was in their 90s. Eight were men and five were women.

There are now 899 people in hospital, another drop. There are 27 people in intensive care. “Every hospitalisation is a reminder of the importance of getting vaccinated to prevent severe illness from Covid-19,” said the Ministry of Health in its 1pm statement. “There is a much lower risk of being hospitalised if you are up to date with your vaccinations, which for omicron includes a third or booster dose.”

Another 15,871 community cases have been announced today, with almost 3,000 of these in Auckland. Speaking at today’s 1pm briefing, the NRHCC’s chief clinical officer Dr Andrew Old said daily cases in Auckland have now been declining for about two weeks. However: “past the peak does not mean out of the woods,” he said, citing the new easing of Covid restrictions.

Canterbury is on track to become the nation’s new epicentre – it has today recorded 2,659 new cases. In Wellington, the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa, there were 1,881 new cases in total, and in  Waikato, 1,432 new cases were announced.

Tonight, at 11.59pm, some key changes are made to our Covid-19 traffic light framework. Outdoor gatherings will have no limits on size, while indoor gatherings of up to 200 people will be permitted. People will also not be asked to use the Covid Tracer app.

“The relaxing of rules was always a question of when… and we have been planning,” said Old. “There is increased risk. The messages are the same really around making sure you protect yourself… through mask wearing, social distancing and vaccination.”

Old said he expected cases would continue to plateau in Auckland even with the easing of restrictions, but there was a small chance of an increase “but this is not what we’re expecting”.

Image: Toby Morris

It’s time for… The Friday Quiz!

This week we’ve had wild weather, new Covid rules announced, and the launch of a new talkback radio station. It’s been a lot! Test your knowledge of everything that’s happened this week in today’s edition of The Spinoff’s Friday News Quiz – and let me know how you get on.


A new movie you just have to see

I went to the movies last night (thanks to Roadshow and Letterboxd) for a screening of Everything Everywhere All at Once – a new sci-fi/comedy/drama/batshit film starring Michelle Yeoh.

I’m writing this because you absolutely need to see it too, mainly just so I have people to talk about it with. This film is truly insane. The premise, without giving too much away, is that a laundromat owner discovers she alone has to save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led in them. It’s basically a multiverse film, done before Marvel got there completely and also executed in such a way that Marvel could only dream of it.

It has some of the funniest moments I’ve seen at the cinema in ages and the action sequences rival John Wick for pure choreographed madness. The ending is a bit meh, but what film’s isn’t.

Check the trailer out below and you can see it in cinemas from April 14.

New research: A third of businesses have made changes to combat climate change

About a third of businesses have invested in measures to combat climate change over the past two years, according to new Stats NZ research.

However, those 35% that have made changes are outweighed by the 53% that said they did not make any climate-related investments.

“Larger businesses were more likely than smaller businesses to invest in climate change-related measures,” said Stats NZ’s business performance manager Ricky Ho. “Reducing waste, switching to sustainable suppliers, and increasing the use of digital technologies were some of the changes businesses made in response to climate change.”

Businesses in industries that were major contributors to direct greenhouse gas emissions – such as agriculture and power – were more likely to develop programmes to offset their emissions, Ho said.

Protest review should ignore complaints by ‘keyboard warriors’ – Police Association

A year-long investigation will look at action taken by police during the 23-day parliament occupation that concluded in a violent clash between officers and protesters.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority will, according to Stuff, scrutinise planning and preparation of the police response, as well as its powers used to keep the peace, maintain public safety, enforce the law, and provide community support and reassurance.

There have so far been over 1,900 complaints about the action of police at the protest, but Police Association president Chris Cahill told RNZ that any comments by “keyboard warriors” who weren’t even at the occupation should be dumped. “I’ve got hundreds of emails coming in from idiots all the time and if I was to spend all my time responding to them… I’d never get any work done – and the IPCA will be the same.”

Instead of getting “bogged down” by every complaint, the authority should look at events that directly happened on the ground, he said.

Cahill said he was concerned about the one-year timeframe for the review. “If they’re saying a year at the start you’ll lucky to get it in two,” he said.

From The Bulletin: Investigating the occupation

Bernard Hickey on the rise of the inflation robots and other new podcasts this week

Inflation has become the thief in our wallets for the first time in a generation and there are plenty of culprits to blame. But there’s a new and more insidious source of inflation developing too: automatic inflation. These annual CPI-linked price increases from a range of companies, utilities, government departments and regulated services are turning into a nasty feedback loop of inflationary pressure that will hurt those on the lowest disposable incomes the hardest. In this week’s When the Facts Change, Bernard Hickey goes on the hunt for these inflation robots. He asks Finance Minister Grant Robertson whether the likes of Chorus should lift its prices in line with inflation and finds out from Paul Fuge, who manages Powerswitch.org.nz for Consumer NZ, how electricity companies are pushing through increased rates amid a confusing welter of regulatory changes.

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


Also new this week on The Spinoff Podcast Network…

Business is Boring is back! Host Simon Pound last spoke with Sharesies 3EO Brooke Roberts in 2017, when the site had been live for a month and had just ticked over 2000 users. Today the platform has half a million Kiwi on board, with $2 billion invested, and has recently expanded into Australia. Brooke returned this week to talk about all that’s happened in the last five years and what being a 3EO actually involves.

Follow Business is Boring on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.


The construction industry is overrepresented in the country’s suicide stats, but why? And what can be done about it? For the third episode of On Site Jay and Brooke are joined by Raman Lee from Mates In Construction for a very big, very important kōrero around mental health in the trades. (Please note, this episode contains discussion of topics including suicide and depression.)

Listen to On Site on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.


It’s Friday today which means another instalment of Stuff’s Things We Didn’t Learn This Week column to look forward to. Dominion Post editor Anna Fifield joined Duncan Greive on The Fold this week to talk about holding the public service comms machine to account.

Follow The Fold on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.


Nē? hosts Leonie and Meriana have both headed off to full-immersion kura this year. In this week’s episode they got gassed up by Te Kuru and special guest, kaiako Hēmi Kelly.

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


And The Real Pod continued to wade through the Married At First Sight swamp as yet another dinner party turned sour.

Follow The Real Pod on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.

38% of Covid researchers report receiving abuse or harassment

Over a third of Covid researchers who publicly spoke out about the Covid-19 pandemic received some form of harassment or abuse, according to a new global report.

The publication Science received over 500 answers to a survey about the response Covid researchers received to their publications on the pandemic. It revealed 38% had suffered at least one type of attack, ranging from insults to death threats, across platforms like social media, email or even in person or over the phone. The survey included responses from people who had been abused in New Zealand, but most respondents reported harassment in the United States.

Lyndal Byford, director of news and partnerships at the Australian Science Media Centre, said the survey largely echoed a similar study in Australia. “Scientists engaging with the media must be better prepared and supported if we want them to keep informing the public about important challenges we all face, such as the pandemic and climate change,” she said.

The impact of online harassment can be severe. Dr Evita March, a psychology expert from Federation University of Australia, said it can even lead to suicidal thoughts. “Covid-19 shone a timely spotlight on the online harassment and abuse scientists and researchers experience – an important issue that warrants consideration and additional support.”

Read the full report here

Act’s co-governance comments could ’embolden extremists’ – Te Pāti Māori

The Act Party has announced it will be campaigning for a referendum on co-governance with Māori – and would make it a bottom line for any coalition negotiations. That’s angered Te Pāti Māori, who say this shouldn’t even be a debate in 2022.

In a speech to the Milford Rotary Club, Act leader David Seymour said the next government should pass legislation defining the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, then ask the people to vote on it becoming law. “If the courts and Waitangi Tribunal can interpret the Treaty, then we the people have the right to our say on it, too,” he said.

“Labour is trying to make New Zealand an unequal society on purpose. It believes there are two types of New Zealanders. Tangata whenua, who are here by right, and tangata Tiriti who are lucky to be here.”

During a later interview with 1News, Seymour confirmed that he would need National to agree to a referendum before supporting the party in government.

Te Pāti Māori thinks the policy is dangerous. Co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer told RNZ this was just Seymour politicking and trying to claw back support. “I think where he’s heading is a debate about whether Te Tiriti is a way we should be going, respecting the rights and interests of tangata whenua,” she said.

“This isn’t a debate that should be had in 2022, or actually any year. It’s sadly rhetoric that is anti-Māori, anti-Tiriti and it does embolden really unsafe extremists [and] white supremacists. It’s disappointing, but it’s not surprising that we see David Seymour stepping into the Don Brash Junior shoes.”

Ngarewa-Packer said she almost expected Seymour’s address to have been delivered at Ōrewa, a reference to the infamous speech given by Brash when he was leader of the National Party in which he criticised supposedly “separatist” policies benefitting Māori.

After months of waiting, Tova O’Brien is back

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 each morning 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, other big names like Duncan Garner, Leah Panapa, Mark Richardson, Lloyd Burr and Wilhelmina Shrimpton delve into the big, and not-so-big, stories of the day.

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