blog nov 3

PoliticsNovember 3, 2020

Live updates, November 3: Second Christchurch community case linked to MIQ facility

blog nov 3

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 3. All the latest New Zealand news, updated throughout the day. Reach me on

7.45pm: The day in sum

There were five new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation, and another case in the Christchurch community linked to the Sudima managed isolation facility.

In response to the Christchurch case, Otago University Covid-19 expert Nick Wilson harshly criticised the managed isolation system and called for an urgent review

Joe Biden and Donald Trump crisscrossed the US on the final day of campaigning for the 2020 presidential election.

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield was nominated for TV Personality of the Year 2020 in the NZ TV Awards.

7.05pm: Landslide win for Joe Biden in Dixville Notch

As goes Dixville Notch, so goes America? The Democratic Party will be hoping that’s the case, given that the tiny New Hampshire precinct – always the first precinct in the nation to vote, on the dot at midnight US Eastern time – has gone for Joe Biden, 5 votes to nothing.

6.25pm: Second Christchurch community case linked to MIQ facility

A second worker at the Sudima managed isolation facility in Christchurch has tested positive for Covid-19, the Ministry of Health has announced. The person, a close workplace contact of the case reported yesterday, is being treated as a community case because they work at the facility and are not a returnee.

Both this case and the one reported on Monday came into contact with the Russian and Ukrainian mariners in the course of their duties, including some of the 31 mariners who have tested positive to Covid-19 and who remain in quarantine, the Ministry said.

“The individual was tested as part of the routine testing for staff in the facility and returned a negative test on Thursday 29 October. They are asymptomatic and were retested after being identified as being a close work contact of the case reported on Monday and a positive result was received today.

“The person is now in isolation at home and transfer is being arranged to a managed isolation facility.”

The Ministry says that an assessment has found only two close contacts of this current case, both household contacts. Both are now being tested and are in isolation at home.

“At this stage the Ministry is not advising of any need to change the current approach. Both cases have limited numbers of contacts and the incident is currently well contained.”

“The first of the international mariners, due to complete their managed isolation this morning, have had their managed isolation extended for at least a further 48 hours as an additional precautionary measure while further information from the current round of staff testing is gathered.

“Those precautionary measures have included additional tests – up to four tests for some individuals – and an already lengthened stay in managed isolation.

“The genome sequencing of the case announced on Monday is not expected to be completed until this evening and will be reported tomorrow.

“Further details of the case if available, and the actions taken in response will be provided tomorrow in the Ministry’s 1pm update.”

On The Spinoff: NZ fashion industry confronts culture of silence as fresh misconduct claims surface

Right now on The Spinoff: Ensemble’s Zoe Walker Ahwa reports on concerns about alleged patterns of inappropriate behaviour by two fashion photographers towards young women.

Here’s an extract

The allegations regarding the photographer are of a pattern of manipulative behaviour towards impressionable and inexperienced young women, including nonconsensual touching; requesting that models fake orgasms in front of the camera to portray chemistry; offering wine on-set to help models feel more comfortable; a private drawer full of nude photographs of women; and that a teenager he worked with was encouraged to keep their interactions secret.

These are alleged to have happened during personal projects. Personal or creative projects are relatively common in the fashion and art world: typically for a photographer’s portfolio or model’s book (rather than for a publication or client), they are often conducted one-on-one; whereas commercial and editorial work generally takes place on set with a crew including a stylist, hair and makeup artists, assistants, et cetera.

2.55pm: Twitter censors Donald Trump on election eve

Donald Trump’s favourite social media site has taken action against the spread of misinformation by the president – just a day before the election.

Trump’s tweet inaccurately claims a Supreme Court decision will “allow rampant and unchecked cheating and will undermine our entire systems of laws” along with inducing “violence in the streets”.

On The Spinoff: Gone By Lunchtime returns

Toby Manhire, Annabelle Lee Mather and Ben Thomas return, electrolytes replenished after the election marathon, to assess the newly announced Labour cabinet and more.

It’s been 17 days since the election, about 24 hours since Labour announced the composition of its new cabinet, and now Gone By Lunchtime is back, fully revitalised, ready to discuss these new appointments, the Green-Labour agreement, the fate of the referendums and more.

Was Kelvin Davis right to turn down the role of deputy PM? Did Ben actually manifest Ayesha Verrall’s ministerial appointment? Is Jan Tinetti real? And whatever happened to TrueBliss? All these questions answered – or at the very least asked – on this week’s Gone By Lunchtime.


Download now, subscribe through Apple Podcasts, or visit Gone By Lunchtime on Acast or Spotify.

1.00pm: Five new Covid-19 cases, including Christchurch health worker


There are five new cases of Covid-19 today, with four in managed isolation and one in the community – the health worker from the Sudima Hotel in Christchurch.

As reported last night, the new case is a member of the health team working at the Sudima Christchurch Airport managed isolation facility where the international mariners are in managed isolation and quarantine.

The individual was tested as part of the routine testing for staff in the facility and returned a negative test last Thursday. On Saturday they developed symptoms and sought a further test on Sunday. A positive result was received yesterday, Bloomfield said.

There is just one close contact of the new case known so far – a student from Cashmere High School. This was reported earlier in the day. The student has tested negative but will remain in isolation and be retested, said Ashley Bloomfield.

As of today, it remains businesses as usual at the school.

An alert has been sent to people who checked in with the Covid-19 app at the Countdown supermarket visited by the new case on Sunday, health minister Chris Hipkins said. However, Bloomfield added that fewer than 20 people had signed in to the Sydenham Countdown and urged people to do better.

The supermarket has already undergone deep cleaning and video footage will continue to be reviewed to identify if there were any close contacts during the person’s visit.

As to why these people are self-isolating at home, Bloomfield said the public health team was checking in on them daily. He said the person had only minor symptoms. Other workers who worked on the same shift are being contacted and tested.

“This is another example of the system working well to protect our border,” Bloomfield said, responding to criticism from public health expert Nick Wilson that the return of Covid-19 was a system failure.

Of the four imported cases, one arrived on October 19 from Kabul via Dubai and tested positive on day 12, one arrived from London via Doha and Brisbane on October 21 and tested positive on day 12, one arrived on October 29 from the US via Sydney and tested positive around day three, and the other arrived on October 29 from the US via Doha and Brisbane and tested positive on day three.

“We now have a protocol where we look at anything that could indicate these are older cases,” said Bloomfield. “We’re very interested in any cases first being detected at day 12 to rule out any cross contamination in the facility.”

As a result of the new Christchurch case, the release of the Russian and Ukrainian fishing crew in managed isolation at the Sudima Hotel has been temporarily delayed, Hipkins said, as a precautionary measure. Some of those who had tested negative were due to be released today.

Eleven cases are now recovered, so we have 75 active cases and 1,612 confirmed cases. Laboratories completed 2,455 tests yesterday.

Finally, in some good news, Hipkins said the Auckland August outbreak is “officially” closed.

12.45pm: Ashley Bloomfield fronts after new Covid-19 case in Christchurch

The director general of health and newly minted nominee for 2020 TV personality (see 11.25am update) will be speaking from the Beehive at 1pm, alongside outgoing health minister Chris Hipkins.

It follows the return of Covid-19 to the Christchurch community yesterday, with one new case detected in a health worker at the Sudima Hotel quarantine facility.

Watch below:

12.20pm: Eminem gives ‘Lose Yourself’ to a political campaign (and it’s not National’s)

Six years after the National Party employed a Eminem-style track as musical backing for its 2014 re-election campaign, the real thing has appeared on a Joe Biden ad.

The get out the vote ad, launched on the final day of Biden’s campaign to unseat president Donald Trump, is soundtracked by ‘Lose Yourself’, whose similarity to National’s musical choice ended up costing the party $225,000 after the rapper’s publishing company sued over copyright infringement.

As a reminder, here once more are National’s blue rowers, featuring that unmistakably Eminesque bassline.

12.10pm: Final countdown to US election day

The first poll in the US election officially opens at 6pm tonight New Zealand time, marking the start of roughly 24 hours of coverage before we know whether Trump or Biden will take control of the White House.

The Spinoff will be all over the election tomorrow, with live coverage throughout the day. You can also check out this handy guide to when we will know the results (spoiler: it might not be tomorrow).

And, the tweet below has all of the local timings for everything going down tomorrow. It’s gonna be hell.

11.25am: Bloomfield nominated as TV personality of 2020

The matinee idol of public health, Ashley Bloomfield, has been named as a finalist in the TV Personality of the Year category for the NZ Television Awards. The director general of health, who became a staple of daytime TV with the 1pm updates through the Covid-19 crisis, is one of 10 nominations, with the winner determined by public vote.

The other finalists are Aziz Al-Sa’afin, Hilary Barry, Kimberley Crossman, Jayden Daniels, Patrick Gower, Kanoa Lloyd, Tova O’Brien, Wendy Petrie, Pio Terei. The awards are on November 18 and you can vote here.

10.25am: High school student confirmed as close contact of Christchurch Covid case

A Christchurch high school student has been revealed as a close contact of the new community case of Covid-19.

As the Herald reports, the Canterbury District Health Board sent a letter to Cashmere High School parents on Tuesday confirming the student was a close contact. The student, however, has so far tested negative for the virus and is in self-isolation at home.

“Students and staff do not need to be tested unless they have symptoms of Covid-19, and they do not need to self-isolate,” the letter said.

9.30am: Public health expert rails against MIQ system, suggests ‘urgent’ review needed

A top public health expert has given some pointed criticism to the government over its managed isolation and quarantine regime, following the news another case of Covid-19 has made it into the community.

A worker at a Christchurch MIQ facility has tested positive for the virus, after spending time in public over the weekend.

Otago University’s Nick Wilson told RNZ it’s concerning: “We’ve had six border failures since the start of August, so things are definitely not working properly,” Wilson said.

It goes against what the prime minister Jacinda Ardern has said since the news broke last night about the new case. Ardern said the fact the case was detected showed the system was operating as it should.

Wilson disagreed: “We really do need to, as a country and a government, up our game. This is just far too risky,” he said.

“This facility [The Sudima Hotel] is not doing quarantine properly, in the sense that it has multiple people in the same room. This is a cost-cutting type of approach. Hotels are not designed for quarantine,” he added.

Wilson suggested an “urgent review” of our entire quarantine system was needed. “These are system failures because we should be stopping all cases at the border. We need a complete whole of system review… we need to reduce this high number of infected people coming into the country.”

Pre-flight testing should be a requirement, Wilson said, along with moving our main quarantine facilities away from Auckland – the biggest economic centre in the country.

“We need to look at building proper quarantine facilities,” Wilson suggested, proffering Ohakea Air Base as one option.

8.00am: Nanaia Mahuta ‘honoured’ to become new foreign minister

The new foreign affairs minister Nanaia Mahuta said she’s “hugely honoured” to take on a role that only “some ministers can dream of” getting. Mahuta replaced outgoing deputy prime minister Winston Peters in the role, and has become the first woman to hold the portfolio.

Mahuta told RNZ that in a Covid-era, where we cannot travel, the role of foreign affairs has changed.

“As we develop our relationships globally, it’s very much focused on how we can do things differently,” she said.

Ministers within the new caucus will need to “work collectively” to drive the Covid-19 recovery, she said.

Mahuta wouldn’t say if she asked for the role, but said Jacinda Ardern had a large caucus to look through and had to analyse everyone’s skillset.

7.45am: Christchurch Countdown closed for deep clean; Ardern says system ‘working’

A Countdown supermarket in the Christchurch suburb of Sydenham has closed for deep cleaning, after the latest confirmed Covid-19 case visited the store over the weekend.

The new case is a staff member working at the Sudima Hotel managed isolation facility – the same place where a large group of Russian fishermen has been staying.

The positive worker had developed symptoms for Covid-19 on Saturday and sought a further test on Sunday, the Ministry of Health confirmed.

Jacinda Ardern says new case shows MIQ system working

The prime minister said the discovery of this new Covid-19 case showed our managed isolation facility is “utterly built for managing a situation where people who may be attached to our MIQ systems themselves find themselves positive with Covid”.

The Ministry of Health will host a 1pm press conference today, where the latest information on the new case will be provided.

“Our whole system is built for that, that’s why we have an ongoing testing regime. It’s why, particularly our people who work in our MIQ keep very, very good records of where they’ve been and who they’ve been in contact with,” Ardern said.

“They are very aware of their health status, so if they feel unwell they’re very cautious about getting tested straight away and being isolated straight away.”

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

Throw out all those articles you read predicting who would get what ministerial jobs – they were pretty much all wrong on some big calls. PM Jacinda Ardern has unveiled who will be taking what roles for the next government, and there are some major surprises, shuffles, promotions and demotions. You can read a full list of who’s inside the new cabinet (and holding ministerial warrants outside cabinet) on our live updates, but a few highlights:

There has been a big change in how health is managed. As Justin Giovannetti reports, the new cabinet has been built with tackling the multi-faceted fallout of Covid-19 in mind. The new minister will be Andrew Little (who saw that coming?) while incumbent Chris Hipkins will take over a new portfolio covering Covid-19. Stuff reports one of Little’s major jobs will be overseeing the review and potential restructure of the DHB system, a massive long term project. Public health expert Dr Ayesha Verrall will also slot into cabinet as associate health minister, the only first term MP to be put in. Peeni Henare will retain the associate portfolio, with responsibility for Māori health.

That segues into one of the more notable aspects of the new look cabinet – an increase in the latitude of roles for Māori ministers. As commentator Shane Te Pou writes on The Spinoff, “no longer are Māori only given Māori-specific roles. Māori are at the table, in numbers, in every major policy area including education, health, and housing.” Nanaia Mahuta will become the country’s first ever female foreign minister, while Peeni Henare, Willie Jackson and Kiri Allan have all been promoted to cabinet. Henare will take on defence, while Allan gets conservation and emergency management. Kelvin Davis will not be the deputy PM, but will remain deputy leader, while holding onto corrections and picking up minister for children.

There are a few telling selections in the mix. Finance minister Grant Robertson (who will be deputy PM too) picks up the infrastructure portfolio, suggesting some projects are about to get a lot more focused attention. The Auckland Chamber of Commerce absolutely loves the change, putting out a release describing it as “a new improved, coordinated senior economic team”. Every portfolio that relates to the justice sector is held by a non-Pākehā minister, with Poto Williams taking police, Kris Faafoi taking justice itself, Aupito William Sio becoming minister for courts, and Willie Jackson picking up associate justice. David Parker adds oceans and fisheries to his environment portfolio, suggesting a bigger focus on that aspect.

Read more and subscribe to The Bulletin here 

Yesterday’s headlines

One new community case of Covid-19 was announced late last night. The case is a staff member at a managed isolation facility in Christchurch.

Earlier in the day, four new cases of Covid-19 were reported, all from managed isolation facilities in Auckland and Christchurch.

Jacinda Ardern unveiled her new cabinet with the coveted role of deputy prime minister going to Grant Robertson after Labour Party deputy Kelvin Davis declined the role.

New cabinet roles were also given to Chris Hipkins (Covid-19), Andrew Little (health), Stuart Nash (economic and regional development) and Kris Faafoi (justice) among others. Nanaia Mahuta was named the new Minister of Foreign Affairs – the first woman to hold the role.

Newcomers to cabinet include Kiri Allan (conservation), Michael Wood (transport), Willie Jackson (Māori development) and first-term MP Ayesha Verrall.

Phil Twyford and Jenny Salesa were demoted from cabinet, while David Clark, who quit as health minister earlier this year, has reentered cabinet with a number of ministerial roles.

Read yesterday’s updates

Keep going!