No change to traffic light setting

It’s Thursday, June 30 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me via email at

The agenda

  • All of New Zealand will remain in the orange traffic light setting.
  • Grant Robertson, who is currently the acting prime minister, has tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Jacinda Ardern has addressed world leaders at a Nato summit overnight in Madrid.
  • There are 7,423 new community Covid-19 cases, with 19 new deaths.
  • Three’s bizarre reality singing competition The Masked Singer has bagged a new judge: Anika Moa.

No change to traffic light setting

It’s Thursday, June 30 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me via email at

The agenda

  • All of New Zealand will remain in the orange traffic light setting.
  • Grant Robertson, who is currently the acting prime minister, has tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Jacinda Ardern has addressed world leaders at a Nato summit overnight in Madrid.
  • There are 7,423 new community Covid-19 cases, with 19 new deaths.
  • Three’s bizarre reality singing competition The Masked Singer has bagged a new judge: Anika Moa.
Jun 30 2022

Proposed law would ban alcohol advertising in sports

Chlöe Swarbrick (Photo: Benjamin Brooking)

A proposed law to ban alcohol advertising in sports will be considered by parliament.

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Harm Minimisation) Amendment Bill, drafted by Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick, was drawn from the member’s ballot today.

The bill would also see alcohol sponsorship of sports teams outlawed. Swarbrick said it’s time for parliament to more appropriately regulate alcohol. “Alcohol harm, like all drug harm, isn’t inevitable, especially on the scale we experience it. What makes the difference is evidence-based regulation,” she said.

“The barrier to that has been years of political hand-wringing. MPs across the House say they’re concerned about alcohol-related crimes, but to date have refused to take necessary steps to deal with it.”

The bill has backing from a number of councils around the country, said Swarbrick. “I look forward to continuing work with my parliamentary colleagues to get this bill to select committee.”

Chlöe Swarbrick (Photo: Benjamin Brooking)

A vital message from The Spinoff’s publisher, Duncan Greive

If you’re reading this, you’re hopefully getting value out of The Spinoff. Yet like many publishers, we’ve suffered a significant drop in members, despite our costs continuing to increase. On one level I understand why our membership has dropped away. As the cost of living has reached new heights and the pandemic has become less of an urgent news event and more of a part of day-to-day life, it’s totally normal to feel like you don’t need to support your local media organisation.

The promise we’re making to you is that we’re actually better suited to times like this than the pandemic itself. Of course we will continue to write about Covid-19 and the many effects it’s having on society, but our plan now is to return to something more of what made us, which is coverage of culture, politics, business, te ao Māori and more with heart and humour.

But we can’t do it without you. We need your support more than we ever have. So please, if you can, click here to support The Spinoff by becoming a member today.

Six arrested after Miramar occupation disbanded

Six people were arrested after refusing to vacate an illegal occupation at Mahanga Bay, in the Miramar Peninsula.

The occupation was established after the parliament protest was disbanded back in March. A trespass notice was then issued in late May.

Earlier today, police asked the remaining 15 occupiers to voluntarily leave the area or be arrested. “Most did so without incident, however six people were arrested – four for trespass, one for obstruction, and one on a warrant,” said a police spokesperson. Court dates are yet to be confirmed.

Police earlier escorted people back into the site to retrieve their property, and contractors will now be used to assist in clearing the site. Once the site is cleared, it will be returned to the owners.

Covid-19 latest: Case numbers remain high, hospitalisations rise to 411

Image: Toby Morris

The number of new Covid-19 community cases remains higher than before the Matariki long weekend. There are 7,423 new reported infections today.

The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 6,114, up from last Thursday when it was 4,817.

As you can see on the graph below, there is now a noticeable trend upwards for new infections.

There have been 19 new deaths of people with Covid-19. It brings the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 1,522 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is now 13.

All of today’s deaths were from the past week and were all people over 50-years-old.

Hospitalisations of people with Covid-19 continue to trend up as well. There are now 411 people being treated with the virus, with six in intensive care. A week ago, there were just 300 people in hospital with Covid.

Of the 68 people in Auckland and Counties Manukau hospitals being treated for severe acute respiratory illnesses, Covid-19 was the cause of infection in 12.7% of cases and Influenza was the cause 68.4% of the time.

New Zealand to stay in orange traffic light setting

(Image / Getty)

All of New Zealand will remain in the orange setting of the traffic light framework, it’s been announced.

Covid-19 response minister Ayesha Verrall said the decision not to ease restrictions was due to the pressure facing our healthcare system, caused by a combination of flu and Covid-19. Case numbers had also started to “creep up again”, said Verrall, and a “suite of additional measures are being put in place to help reduce spread”.

Verrall said that while reinfection from the virus was currently low, this was expected to change. “The B.5 variant of omicron is predicted to become the dominant strain in the country in the coming weeks and is a different variant to what most New Zealanders caught the first time around,” she said.

In preparation, the government has announced a change to the rules around reinfection. “We… are now asking anyone experiencing Covid-19 symptoms 29 days or longer following their initial infection to test,” said Verrall. “Should they test positive they will need to isolate for seven days.”

Earlier advice said people would not need to re-test if they had tested positive for Covid-19 within the past 90 days. “However household contacts who have had Covid-19 within 90 days won’t need to isolate, unless they are symptomatic,” clarified Verrall.

The PM with Covid-19 response minister Ayesha Verrall (Image / Getty Images)

Despite the rise in new Covid infections, and the possibility of more reinfections, Verrall said a move back to red would be unnecessary. “We can continue to manage the virus at orange, but are putting in place a range of additional measures to help manage a recent rise in cases,” Verrall said.

There is no mention in the statement from Verrall of when the government next intended to review our Covid settings. It’s usually every six or so weeks.

Meanwhile, the government has announced new measures for schools as the winter months look set to bring a surge in Covid cases. A supply of 10 million special “child-sized masks” will be ready for distribution at the start of term three, while additional funding will be provided to allow schools to maintain increased heating and ventilation.

“Good ventilation over winter can lead to some heat loss and higher heating bills. The winter energy payments will help reassure schools and services that they can balance heating and ventilation, without unaffordable energy bills,” said associate education minister Jan Tinetti.

$3.6 million will be allocated across schools, kura, teen parent units and activity centres. Amounts will range from $200 up to a cap of $4,000 for the largest schools.

Traffic light review due: will we leave the orange?

Image: Tina Tiller

Along with today’s Covid-19 case update, we’re expecting to learn whether New Zealand will remain in the orange traffic light setting.

Covid-19 response minister Ayesha Verrall will provide the update in a written statement. That makes me suspect any shift out of orange is unlikely, especially given the rolling average of new community cases has started to rise again.

We’ll have all the details around 1pm.

Image: Tina Tiller

NZ to support Ukraine’s case against Russia at the International Court

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta talks to media during a press conference at Parliament on April 22, 2021 in Wellington, (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

New Zealand will join Ukraine’s case against Russia at the International Court of Justice.

Foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta said the government would be a “third party” in the case, set to be held in The Hague.

“Intervention enables a country that is not a party to the case to put its legal views before the court,” said Mahuta. “Aotearoa New Zealand has only taken such action at the ICJ once before, in Australia’s 2012 case against Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean.”

Attorney-General David Parker said New Zealand was a party to the Genocide Convention and a “strong defender” of the international rules-based system. “Disputes between states should be resolved by peaceful means, including through the ICJ, and not by the illegal use of force,” he added.

Russia’s invasion was a “significant threat” to international law, said Mahuta. “We are profoundly concerned about the loss of life and human suffering in Ukraine as a result of Putin’s illegal invasion, and seek to emphasise that all countries must uphold the rules of international law and the purpose and principles of the United Nations Charter.”

The government’s been upping its contribution to Ukraine’s efforts against Russia, recently announcing a further investment to the Nato fund along with an extension to our Defence Force deployment in Europe. A range of sanctions have also been applied against Russia.

Overnight, prime minister Jacinda Ardern reiterated her condemnation of the invasion at a Nato conference in Madrid.

New episode of Going Global with Rachel Taulelei

The third episode in The Spinoff’s new podcast series Going Global, is out now. Co-hosts Ethique’s Brianne West and Business is Boring’s Simon Pound talk to Rachel Taulelei, Māori business leader and co-founder of design and brand strategy firm Oho. Taulelei’s connection to her Māoritanga has been vital in her career, from founding sustainable fishery Yellow Brick Road, to being chief executive officer of food and beverage company Kono exporting to more than 40 countries worldwide.

Listen to Going Global, produced in partnership with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, on The Spinoff Podcast Network.

Miramar occupation, linked to parliament protest, disbanded

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – MARCH 3: Police officers climb the graffiti covered steps to the Beehive inside the cordoned off area of Wellington city around Parliament buildings as the clean up continues on March 03, 2022 in Wellington, New Zealand. Police broke up the anti-COVID-19 mandate protester encampment yesterday after weeks of conflict in the …  Read more

A group of occupiers at Miramar Peninsula in Wellington, and linked to the large protest outside parliament earlier this year, have been asked to leave by police.

The small group have been camped out since the parliament occupation was disbanded in March.

According to Stuff, those at site this morning were being “encouraged” to leave by police. ​​​​​​”Those who refuse to leave will be arrested,” a police spokesperson said.

Roadblocks have been put in place and a number of police officers can be seen at the site.

Rongotai MP – and Wellington mayoral hopeful – Paul Eagle said the local community had been “extremely patient” throughout the occupation. “I’ve had many, many communications with people who have been exasperated by the situation. Locals were scared, they had seen what had happened at Parliament and didn’t want it to repeat there,” he told Stuff.


Christopher Luxon overseas on policy-finding mission

QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND – FEBRUARY 01: National Party leader Christopher Luxon addresses members of the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce and media during the annual New Zealand National Party caucus retreat on February 01, 2022 in Queenstown, New Zealand. The retreat brings all National Party MPs together ahead of the new parliamentary year. (Photo by James Allan/Getty Images)

It’s not just the prime minister currently out of New Zealand: the opposition leader is too.

Christopher Luxon has headed abroad on a mission to gather new ideas as he gets ready to head into the last 12 months of his 2023 election campaign.

As reported last week by Newsroom, Luxon will be travelling to Singapore, Dublin and London. He openly admitted he wants to “nick and steal’’ whatever he can from other countries.

“There’s no substitute for getting on an airplane and going around and seeing people and building relationships – that’s what the job is,” he said. That includes the PM, with Luxon saying he backs her rolling schedule of overseas engagements. “I’ve been very supportive of her getting out and about, it’s necessary because we’re well behind the eight ball in terms of our relationships,” Luxon said.

On his 10-day tour, Luxon will study infrastructure in Singapore, technology in Dublin and education in London.

Announcing a new partnership with our mates at Stuff

The Spinoff can today announce a new content partnership with Stuff. Our publisher Duncan Greive breaks down what that all means:

Today The Spinoff and Stuff are excited to announce a new partnership, commencing right now. The basis of it is content sharing – it means that what we make on The Spinoff will sometimes run on Stuff, and even (if it’s really good) in their network of fine newspapers and magazines. You might also see the odd Stuff story running on The Spinoff, which we’re super stoked about – they are the country’s biggest employer of journalists and have some of our very best.

What’s most exciting is not the content sharing, though – it’s all the things we haven’t yet figured out. There are plans to collaborate on projects and learn from each other. Already Stuff’s podcast team come up to our studios and work with The Spinoff Podcast Network. We think there’s heaps more we can do – we share a vision of a collaborative media ecosystem, and think it fundamental to survival in an era where big tech takes well over half of every digital advertising dollar.

Read more from Duncan on this exciting new partnership here.

Pair of far right groups designated terrorists in NZ

American flags placed in the ground on the National Mall in front of the US Capitol building on January 18, 2021. The approximately 191,500 U.S. flags represent the American people who are unable to travel to Washington, DC for Joe Biden’s inauguration. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A pair of US far right organisations have been designated terrorist organisations here in New Zealand.

As first noted by Stuff, the Proud Boys and The Base have both legally been defined as terrorist groups. The signing off of this decision was listed in the New Zealand Gazette on June 27.

“Any person who deals with the property of, or makes property or financial or related services available to, the entities listed below may be liable to prosecution for an offence under sections 9 and 10 of the [Terrorism Suppression Act],” reads the Gazette entry.

“Furthermore, any institution or person who suspects that property is owned by either entity is required to report the existence of that property to the Commissioner of Police.”

While the decision was made public via the Gazette, no announcement about the designation was made – despite it requiring prime ministerial sign-off.

The Proud Boys, an exclusively male, far right group, made global headlines after their involvement with the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. The Base is a white nationalist group that now has links to several countries, including Australia.

‘Guess it had to happen’: Acting PM Grant Robertson catches Covid-19

Grant Robertson has delivered his first budget of the Labour-majority government. Photo: Mark Graham/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Grant Robertson, who is currently the acting prime minister, has tested positive for Covid-19.

Revealing his diagnosis on Instagram, Robertson said his symptoms were “fairly mild” but he will “try to do the right thing and get some rest”.

Robertson said he will remain acting prime minister while Jacinda Ardern is in Europe. He will, however, not be present in the House or in meetings while infectious.

It’s likely to stop Robertson from heading to Australia next week. He was expected to be among a group of ministers heading across the Tasman for the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum.


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A post shared by Grant Robertson (@grantrobertsonmp)

Ardern caught the virus last month, just a week before she travelled to the United States. Her infection nearly derailed the meeting with US president Joe Biden, though this was eventually rescheduled.

Should Robertson become too sick to fulfil his duties as prime minister, Labour’s deputy leader Kelvin Davis will step in.

Who is it, who is it, who is it, joining The Masked Singer NZ?

The Masked Singer is nearly back (Photo: Supplied)

Three’s bizarre reality singing competition The Masked Singer has had a makeover for its upcoming second season.

Singer Anika Moa will join the “guessing panel” alongside returning judges James Roque and Sharyn Casey. Comedian Rhys Darby and singer Ladi6 are not on the show this season, meaning the number of jokes and the number of guesses of LAB back-up singers will decrease significantly. And also back for round two, Clint Randell returns as host.

On joining the guessing panel, Moa said: “There are going to be some real standouts, weird moments and a lot of confused looks from me. Love love love this show!”

The Masked Singer is nearly back (Photo: Supplied)

This season will feature 13 stars – including a duo – singing in front of a live audience. Of course, the show wouldn’t be what it is without the array of costumes. This season will include a unicorn, a robot, an alligator and a sheepdog (after the success of last season’s pavlova I hope there is at least one food item, too).

Ardern’s challenge to Nato leaders

Jacinda Ardern at Nato (Photo: Getty Images)

Jacinda Ardern has addressed world leaders at a Nato summit overnight in Madrid.

It was somewhat historic because New Zealand is not a member of Nato and as such we were invited as a guest. While Ardern’s address was at a private event, the prime minister released her remarks to media.

Most of the speech, like most of the Nato event overall, focused on the Russia invasion of Ukraine. “Russia’s actions are an affront to all of us,” Ardern said. “Not because this conflict should be characterised as a war of the west vs Russia, or even democracy vs autocracy, it is neither. Rather it’s a war of Russia vs all those who hold a basic sense of humanity and chose to act on it.”

Ardern advocated for reform of the United Nations, calling Russia’s use of the UN Security Council to block consideration of the invasion “morally bankrupt”.

But the prime minister also had a request of the world leaders she was addressing: not to allow the legacy of the war in Ukraine to become an arms race. “Our solidarity with Ukraine must be matched by an equal commitment to strengthen international institutions, multilateral forums, and disarmament,” said Ardern.

“New Zealand is a Pacific nation. Our region bears the scars of decades of nuclear testing. It was because of these lessons that New Zealand has long declared itself proudly nuclear free. Some may observe this status and assume us to have the naive privilege of such a position. I would argue, the world can’t afford anything less.”

Jacinda Ardern at Nato (Photo: Getty Images)

Alongside her comments on the Russian invasion, Ardern also called out China for becoming “more assertive and more willing to challenge international rules and norms”.

“Here, we must respond to the actions we see,” Ardern continued. “We must stand firm on the rules-based order, call for diplomatic engagement and speak out against human rights abuses at all times when and where we see them.”

Speaking to media before her address, Ardern said these remarks on China were made because of New Zealand’s position within the Pacific. “We have a very close watch and we have the ability to observe where we see escalation, and we have seen escalation in our region,” Ardern said, according to the Herald.

Ardern next travels to Belgium and then to the UK where she will meet with Boris Johnson. The meeting comes a few months after a free trade deal was signed between our countries.

The Bulletin: Residence visa application numbers exceed government forecasts

As RNZ’s Gill Bonnett reports, the number of migrants who have applied for residence under the one-off settlement visa has now surpassed 200,000 people. The government initially forecasted that 165,000 people would be eligible across 110,000 applications. As Bonnett writes, numbers have exceeded estimates because the average number of people in each application was underestimated by Immigration New Zealand. Since December 2021, 57,000 people have been approved for residence and about 100 have been declined.

Meanwhile there are reports that health workers in the US are making enquiries about moving to New Zealand in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe V Wade.

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