Live updates, June 16: 6% of country fully vaccinated; Bid to host next America’s Cup in NZ rejected

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for June 16, bringing you the latest news updated throughout the day. Get in touch at stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

3.10pm: Helicopter that injured wedding group suffered engine failure – report

A helicopter that crashed on Saturday, critically injuring a wedding party, suffered a total engine failure.

According to the Herald, the helicopter company involved said the engine lost power shortly after take-off. “Put simply the engine had stopped,” a spokesperson for Wyndon Aviation said. “Statistically this is a very rare occurrence.”

Four people were injured in the crash, including a bride, groom and a photographer.

3.00pm: Fiji Covid-19 cases rise again

There have been a further 116 new cases of Covid-19 in Fiji today along with the country’s fifth death from the coronavirus.

A 73-year-old patient, who was in hospital for an unrelated condition, died in the capital Suva yesterday.

Despite the rapidly increasing number of Covid cases – now well above 1000 since the virus first took hold – the nation’s prime minister Frank Bainimarama is refusing to lock down, citing the potential economic damage.

There are now almost 950 active cases of Covid-19 in Fiji, all in isolation.

2.20pm: $70 million recovered after pyramid scheme investigation

A police investigation into a multinational pyramid scheme has resulted in more than $70 million being recovered.

The assets – a mixture of cash and properties – were first restrained by police in 2017 following an investigation into suspicious funds deposited in New Zealand bank accounts between 2009 and 2016. Detective inspector Craig Hamilton said the money was transferred to New Zealand to conceal its source.

The forfeiture is New Zealand’s largest ever under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009.

1.50pm: Today’s gossip offerings

It’s Gossip Week on The Spinoff. Here are the two latest pieces we’ve cooked up to keep your hunger for goss fulfilled: 

  • Three years ago, Zoe Lawton started an anonymous blog for people in the legal profession to share their stories of sexual harassment. Today, she reflects on the public impact of sharing this private information, and what needs to happen next for the #MeToo movement in Aotearoa.
  • After spending almost a year padding around her London flat and communicating only through screens, Elle Hunt is more than ready for a good gossip.

1.00pm: No new Covid-19 cases in the community; 6% of NZ fully vaccinated

Updated

It’s another day with no new Covid-19 cases in the community, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield has confirmed. Two new cases were reported overnight in managed isolation, taking the total number of active cases to 23.

Bloomfield started today’s press conference with a joke after an RNZ push notification that Covid-19 minister Chris Hipkins was about to take the podium. “Apologies to RNZ, I’m not Chris Hipkins. I’ve come off the bench,” said Bloomfield.

Two people with Covid-19 continue to be treated at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland after being transferred from the Auckland quarantine facility last week. The pair remain in a stable condition, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, the quarantine-free travel pause with Melbourne is set to expire tomorrow but will be reviewed later today. We can expect a further update from the ministry this afternoon.

891,702 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been delivered in the country. About 116,000 jabs were delivered last week, a period of time that included a public holiday and one-day strike by nurses. In total, 6% of the population has now had both doses of the vaccine and have full protection against Covid-19.

The country remains over 7% ahead of the rollout plan, Bloomfield said, but that is a slight drop on the rate recorded last week.

Bloomfield also confirmed the vaccine roll-out could slow down, and some centres may have to pause, based on available stocks of the jab. However, recent reports that DHBs had stopped their rollouts due to low supplies were untrue, said Bloomfield.

12.30pm: Troy Kingi’s brush with death

The musician, actor and Masked Singer tells us about a terrifying underwater experience in this week’s episode of FIRST.

11.45am: Reserve Bank to introduce debt limits on housing investors

From political editor Justin Giovannetti:

The Reserve Bank is getting a new tool to deal with soaring housing prices, with the finance minister giving it the ability to restrict how much banks can lend to borrowers based on their debt levels.

Bloomberg reported yesterday that New Zealand is home to the world’s biggest housing bubble and abysmally low affordability. The debt-to-income restrictions, which are still in the planning stages, would impact highly indebted investors who have been borrowing off their existing properties to buy more.

The Reserve Bank and Treasury are tinkering on the restrictions to ensure they apply to investors and not first-home buyers. In advice to finance minister Grant Robertson, the Reserve Bank said that the fastest way to further restrict lending in an overheated housing market would be to tighten loan-to-value restrictions further.

Existing LVR rules require most investors to provide a 40% deposit to secure a mortgage on a new property.Once the new debt limits are ready, the Reserve Bank says it’ll use them along with LVR restrictions to limit property investment. Debt limits require investors to not hold more mortgages than they can reliably service, while LVR restrictions require high deposits for them to buy more.

11.10am: Bid to host next America’s Cup in NZ rejected

Updated

The government’s bid to host the next America’s Cup has been rejected by Team New Zealand, meaning the squad’s defence of the trophy will almost certainly take place overseas.

“Representatives of the Team New Zealand Board have informed the Crown-Council negotiators that the offer is not sufficient,” America’s Cup minister Stuart Nash said.

“The offer expires today, June 16. From tomorrow, Team New Zealand is now free to seek support from other partners.”

The offer, according to Nash, involved cash and in-kind support worth around $99 million.

Nash wished the team well, but once again stated the government was keen to host the next cup here. “At the end of the day the America’s Cup is a global commercial operation. It is an international business as much as a sporting contest. The team is now free to look to commercial sponsors, private supporters, or other avenues to bankroll the operation,” he said.

Any further request for government support would have to be considered by cabinet, said Nash, and he would not confirm whether the Crown would consider making another offer.

Earlier today, prime minister Jacinda Ardern reaffirmed her desire to have the next tournament held on our waters.

“Our view is that we want it to be hosted here,” she told Radio Hauraki. “We’ve put our best foot forward, but there’s also limits to what we can do.”

Team NZ boss Grant Dalton told the Herald that today’s rejection did not entirely rule out a local event.

“The end of the exclusive negotiation period does not eliminate all possibility of the event or an event being hosted in New Zealand. If resources enable an event in New Zealand we will remain open to it,” he said.

Emirates Team New Zealand crew celebrate victory against Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in race 10 to win the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland (Photo by GILLES MARTIN-RAGET/AFP via Getty Images)

10.55am: UK free trade deal overdue, says National

The National Party is hoping a free trade agreement with the UK is on the way, but says we should already have secured one.

Trade minister Damien O’Connor is on his way to the UK for talks this week – the same week Australia managed to lock in a deal.

National’s trade spokesperson Todd Muller said Australia and New Zealand started negotiating a deal at the same time. “Australia seemed to want it more, acting with urgency and prioritising closing the deal. As a result they’ve come out on top,” Muller said.

“It’s now up to the government to match, if not better, the Australian deal. Our exporters want no constraints in exporting their goods and services to the UK, employers want access to significant numbers of skilled people from the UK to help the recovery from Covid-19, and our businesses want UK investment and global perspectives to fund their growth.”

According to overseas reports, Australia’s deal will see tariffs eliminated and red tape cut making it cheaper for importers and easier to travel abroad.

9.40am: Newest National MP not well-liked in caucus – report

National MPs have spoken out about their newest caucus member Harete Hipango.

After Nick Smith’s resignation, Hipango has made it back into parliament after losing her spot following last year’s election.

But a Newsroom report has suggested the new MP may find few mates from within the party. Several National MPs told the publication that Hipango wasn’t particularly well-liked in the caucus and didn’t have a lot of friends. However, her closest ally will likely be leader Judith Collins. The pair are known to be close and, according to Newsroom, Hipango helped roll Simon Bridges last year in order to pave the way for a Collins leadership.

It’s expected Hipango will pick up Smith’s electoral reforms portfolio but may have to wait until a later reshuffle to get any other roles this year.

8.40am: Auckland, Wellington, crack top 50 in Bloomberg challenge

Both Auckland and Wellington have made the final round of Bloomberg’s 2021 global mayors challenge, celebrating innovation in the wake of Covid-19.

631 cities applied for the challenge, with a final list of 50 being released this week.

Auckland was recognised for its goal to reach net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050. “The city is proposing a new, universal tool to measure the carbon footprint of new infrastructure projects, so that they can pursue new development while staying on track to meet ambitious climate goals,” said the publication.

Meanwhile, Wellington was celebrated for a “visionary perspective” to addressing climate change. “Many cities have declared a climate emergency—but few have demonstrated such a practical commitment to acting.”

Read the full list here

8.00am: Muslim community ‘marginalised’ by counter-terror hui

Some in the Muslim community feel “marginalised” by a government-organised hui on counter-terrorism.

The hui was one of the key recommendations from the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks.

Despite this, there was some concern yesterday that the speakers at the hui were poorly chosen – namely the lack of panellists from the Muslim community. Andrew Little, the minister in charge of the response to the Christchurch attack, told Newshub he did not have an answer for why that was the case.

“I don’t know why they don’t specifically appear as panellists or speakers in the programme,” he said.

In a statement, Azad Khan from the Foundation Against Islamophobia and Racism (Fair) said he was disappointed with the agenda at the hui along with the selection of some speakers. “The hui is not focused on the lessons from the March 15 white supremacist terrorist attack. It doesn’t even mention the word Islamophobia in the programme,” Khan said.

“The Muslim community is once again being marginalised and ignored by a government that professed to put them at the centre of their response. The community has been waiting for an opportunity to be involved in, and consulted on, how to bring about change since the attacks. This counter-terrorism hui could have been that opportunity.”

A walkout was sparked yesterday afternoon during a panel when one speaker, Juliet Moses from the NZ Jewish Council, made a comment about the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The comment was labelled “inappropriate” by the chair of the Federation of the Islamic Associations of New Zealand, Abdur Razzaq. “There are lots of things out there that divide us, let us have some wisdom and prioritise what unites us first,” he told RNZ.

The event continues today.

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

Any hope that government interventions would immediately curb rampant house price inflation have been dashed by new figures. The REINZ house price index, reported here by Newshub, shows the highest growth in prices over a 12 month period since records began, with median prices up 32%. It also breaks it down among regions, with a graphic showing big green arrows going up in every part of the country. Within Auckland, only Franklin and Papakura now have median prices under $1 million. The full report is here, and looking through it you can see graphs which show just how rapid that growth has been.

What does this demand look like in practice? Stuff’s Liz McDonald had a story about 116 sections in Rolleston being put up for reserve – every single one of them was snapped up in minutes, and the website crashed under the load. Rolleston is a very fast growing town, but even so. Sale volumes are also particularly high, with Interest reporting the figures for May are the highest they’ve been in three years.

What’s driving the behaviour? Paraphrasing RBNZ governor Adrian Orr, the inflation is now more cultural and psychological than being based on economics or policy. Newshub’s AM Show interviewed him at the end of May on whether prices would eventually start to fall, and Orr believes they will. He also warned that current homeowners need to be wary of what a rise in interest rates would do to their ability to service a mortgage.


A lot of the debate around clean car subsidies has devolved into culture war nonsense, but there are some substantive points being reported within that. For example, this Radio NZstory canvasses the views of some farmers and tradies, who say they’d very happily switch to EVs – but suitable vehicles for their work aren’t actually available yet. Comments made by PM Ardern – about new electric Hilux models becoming available within two years – are wrong, according to Toyota and reported by Autotalk.

Federated Farmers have suggested an exemption to costs being imposed on dirtier vehicles be introduced for specific sectors, until alternatives are there. It brings to mind this excellent recent Michael Andrew story, about the eager uptake of electric motorbikes by farmers, who can see the advantages when an actually-available product is presented.

Read more and subscribe to The Bulletin here




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