Live updates, June 21: Pfizer vaccine approved for 12 to 15 year olds; Sydney bubble intact

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for June 21, bringing you the latest news updated throughout the day. Get in touch at stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

4.45pm: Would Ardern work again with Winston Peters?

Asked at her press conference about Winston Peters’ speech yesterday, his description of some Labour policies as “nutty”, and whether she would entertain the idea of working again with the New Zealand First Party, Ardern left the door open. “There were a lot of things we didn’t agree on but there were a lot of things we did, and we got good things done,” she said. “I have never been in the position of ruling in or out those existing parties that I’ve worked with before because I’ve demonstrated that I can work with them. But it feels like a very big hypothetical at the moment for New Zealand First. There’s a number of stages before that become even a relevant consideration.”

Was it true that the He Puapua paper was deliberately held back from coalition partner NZ First? “That is certainly not my recollection,” she said.

4.30pm: ‘I would be encouraging parents to inform themselves’ – Bloomfield

The director general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, is speaking alongside the prime minister at today’s post-cabinet press conference. Asked what advice he might have for parents who are nervous about giving consent for vaccination, Bloomfield said: “As a parent I carefully considered, when [my children] were born the opportunity around childhood vaccination. Having been trained in public health it wasn’t until I was a parent that I realised, actually, it is an important and significant decision as a parent to be making that decision.”

He added: “So I would be encouraging parents, just as they are for themselves, to inform themselves, to get the information so they can make the right decision for their 12 to 15 year olds, and potentially in the future for younger children, if they have them.”

4.00pm: Pfizer vaccine provisionally approved for under 16s – but no children will be getting the jab just yet

People aged 12 to 15 in New Zealand could soon be vaccinated against Covid-19. The country’s drug agency Medsafe has given provisional approval for the Pfizer jab to be given to this age group. Currently it is limited only to those 16 or older.

Jacinda Ardern has welcomed the announcement but said there was no plan to start vaccinating children just yet. “The next step is for the government to review advice from the Ministry of Health about the ‘decision to use’, and we expect to make a decision later this month,” Ardern said in a statement ahead of her weekly post-cabinet press conference. “Until that decision is made, youth aged 12-15 won’t be given the vaccine.”

Ardern said that about 265,000 children fit into the 12-15 age bracket, meaning the existing purchase order with Pfizer will be sufficient. “We don’t need to buy any more to cover them, and no one will miss out as a result of this decision,” Ardern said.

While the coronavirus does not typically affect young people as severely as adults, Ardern said there had been cases abroad of children getting sick from Covid.

“In addition, children have been shown to transmit the virus, so being able to vaccinate them helps protect the wider community,” she said. “Put simply, when our children are vaccinated, their teachers, friends, siblings, parents and grandparents are more protected from the virus too. So it’s in all of our interests for this group to get the vaccine.”

The Pfizer vaccine has already been approved for 12 to 15-year-olds in Canada, the USA, Europe, and Japan.

Top stories

3.25pm: NZ boosts support for Covid-ravaged Fiji

The government has upped its support for Fiji as the nation continues to battle a renewed wave of Covid-19.

Up to $5 million will go toward delivering Covid-19 operations while another $5 million will go to local civil society organisations working to mitigate poverty risks.

Foreign affairs minister Nanaia Mahuta said, in addition, New Zealand is providing two medical specialists to help assist Fiji’s Ministry of Health. An anaesthetist will travel there today, followed by a Defence Force public health/infectious disease specialist in the near future.

“This assistance will support Fiji to navigate the medium-term challenges posed by Covid-19,” Mahuta said. “New Zealand continues to stand alongside Fiji as it responds to this outbreak and our thoughts are with all affected.”

2.45pm: Three more MPs to get the Backbencher puppet treatment

Wellington’s iconic Backbencher pub – just across the road from parliament – is famous for its large, caricature-esque puppets. Now, three more MPs are getting the Backbencher treatment.

National’s Judith Collins, Act’s David Seymour and the Greens’ Chloe Swarbrick will all be immortalised on the pub’s walls this week. Collins told TVNZ’s Q&A the gesture meant she had finally “made it”.

“I think that they’ll probably focus on a bit of a devilish look, and it may just be the eyebrow,” Collins said.

Seymour agreed that getting his own puppet was the “epitome” of his career. “I really hope that my puppet isn’t being euthanised, or it could be sitting at a charter school, or it could be speaking freely,” he said.

Watch the full video here

1.55pm: Givealittle for tornado victim’s family tops $45,000 in a day

More than $45,000 has been raised for the family of a man killed by a shock tornado in South Auckland over the weekend.

Janesh Prasad was killed while working at the Ports of Auckland in Wiri on Saturday morning. Prasad’s sister told TVNZ the family had been “blessed” by a flood of support from the community.

“My brother was a very loving, caring and admirable person. I will never be able to find a person like him ever in life,” Kate Singh said.

The massive influx of donations on the Givealittle page happened within 24 hours after the call for donations was made yesterday.

1.10pm: No change to quarantine-free travel with Sydney, Brisbane, after new cases

There will be no change to quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and New South Wales, health officials have confirmed.

The growing number of Covid-19 cases in Sydney has been raising concerns that the travel bubble could suffer another pause. In today’s 1pm update, the Ministry of Health said the risk to the New Zealand public remained low.

“New Zealand public health officials are regularly reviewing developments in the Australian state and advice will be updated, if and when required,” a spokesperson said.

A new community case has of the coronavirus has also been confirmed in a Brisbane air crew worker. “Anyone who was at Brisbane Airport at DFO outlet shop between 4pm and 4.30pm, or the Brisbane Portuguese Family Centre from 7pm onwards on Saturday June 19 must contact Healthline, get tested and stay home until they receive a negative result.”

The pause to travel with Victoria will be reviewed tomorrow.

Meanwhile, there are no new community cases here in New Zealand with three recorded in managed isolation. One previously reported case has now recovered. The number of active cases in New Zealand is 23.

12.20pm: New Covid restrictions in Sydney as case numbers grow

New Covid-19 restrictions have been introduced in Sydney after more cases of the coronavirus were reported over the weekend.

According to The Guardian, locals are now required to wear face masks indoors across many parts of the city after the eastern suburbs cluster grew to nine cases. Masks are also compulsory on public transport in Wollongong and Shellharbour, as well as in greater Sydney.

New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian said that restrictions could be tightened if the number of cases continued to rise.

“At this stage, we didn’t want to make the decision to have compulsory face mask wearing across all greater Sydney but if the situation changes overnight, that is an option we will have to consider,” she said. “I know all of us are a bit fatigued after so many months of living with Covid but we can’t drop for now. We have to make sure we aren’t complacent.”

Quarantine-free travel with New South Wales is currently continuing despite the growing risk of the delta strain spreading. The pause on travel with Victoria will be reviewed tomorrow.

11.25am: Lorde teases (even more) new music

Not long after the release of her new single Solar Power, Lorde has teased that a possible follow-up banger could be released this afternoon.

A 21 second video posted to her website has the caption “solstice”, leading many to deduce a new song will be released at the same time as the northern hemisphere’s summer solstice. Here in New Zealand, that would mean 3.32pm this afternoon.

Some fans have even suggested that the “21” seconds of the video are confirmation a song will be released today – June “21”.

All will soon be known… or maybe it won’t.

Lorde performs at the iHeartRadio Beach Ball on September 3, 2017 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo: Andrew Chin/Getty Images)

10.00am: The Fold on the reinvention of Metro Magazine

On the new episode of The Fold podcast, Duncan Greive sits down with Metro editor Henry Oliver, art director Kelvin Soh and food editor Jean Teng to discuss the resurrection of the legendary title. The team just released the third and best issue since its independent revival after the dramatic collapse of Bauer.

They talk about the extraordinary new design scheme, reimagining the tense school rankings, how Auckland’s cafe scene is changing and a pleasingly buoyant ad market.

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

9.30am: ACC failings toward women, Māori and Pasifika revealed

ACC is biased against women, Māori and Pasifika, according to the organisation itself.

A series of briefings from the Accident Compensation Corporation, sent to the minister in charge Carmel Sepuloni, analysed claims made between June 2015 and July 2020.

As RNZ reported, that analysis found that women are not only less likely to make ACC claims in the first place but more likely to have them declined and receive less compensation than men. Over the past five years, the decline rate for women has risen from 2.2% to 2.6% while the decline rate for men only rose by 0.2% up to 2.1%.

If a woman’s claim was accepted, statistically they would receive just over half the rate of a man.

8.00am: ‘Up to the people of NZ First’ – Winston Peters on if he will be back in 2023

Updated

Winston Peters has given his first media interview since returning to the world of politics yesterday.

As The Spinoff’s Toby Manhire explained, Peters addressed party faithful at the NZ First AGM on Sunday afternoon where he rattled through a predictable range of targets. The “ngāti woke” who buy electric cars. Cyclists. Ihumātao. John Key. Gang members. “Māori separatism.” You get the gist.

Despite promising to speak to media after his speech, it took until this morning for Peters to fulfil that – choosing only to speak with Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking. “It’s up to the people of New Zealand First,” Peters said when asked if he would be leading the party into the next election. “God willing, if I’m fit and motivated.” He was, the 76-year-old confirmed, feeling fit and motivated.

Just like in yesterday’s speech, Peters was not afraid to criticise his former coalition partner Labour. “At the moment there’s a certain approach that has been taken that you simply cannot explain,” he said, citing the recent harbour cycle bridge proposal. “I was appalled because I’ve never seen such [a] bad policy process.”

Peters said proposals like that did come forward while NZ First was in government, but the party made it as “clear as daylight” that those policies couldn’t work. “Some you could say that, were ‘nutty’.” The He Puapua report, he alleged, was kept from him while in government. “A straight out report on Māori separatism.”

Addressing criticism over his decision to side with Labour in 2017 instead of National, Peters said: “You look at the sex maniacs and the mess that they’re in now and tell me what option did I have?”

He added: “Come on, talk to anyone… you’ve seen one after the other go, can you please tell me what option I had if that was what I had to go with. And I was a guy who was with the National Party before a lot of those people were even born”.

Peters once again affirmed that NZ First was an important “handbrake” on Labour when questioned if that was too negative for the New Zealand public. “Handbrakes are a critical component in a very unsafe vehicle,” he said.

Despite the strong words from the NZ First leader, a Newshub poll released last night revealed the majority of New Zealanders don’t want Peters back in parliament: 70.1%. Just under 20% do want Peters back and the rest don’t know.


A quick note from me to say a huge thanks to Alex for filling in on the live updates in my absence last week and providing an incredibly comprehensive wrap of the news. I think I’ll take leave more often.


7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

It was a small Friday announcement, but could end up having significant impacts on how the law understands the structure of families. Justice minister Kris Faafoi has announced New Zealand’s 66 year old adoption laws will be reviewed, and public consultation is being sought. The NZ Herald’s Michael Neilson has reported on what underpins the desire for a review. Basically, when these laws were written, they favoured heterosexual nuclear families, along with the concept of a “clean break” for kids who were adopted out from their birth parents.

But as we’ve come to understand in the decades since, traditional family structures aren’t necessarily the norm any more. For example, the Māori concept of whāngai – in which a child is brought up by relatives (usually relatives at least) of the birth parents – often involves the child being aware of the situation from a young age, and still having some form of relationship with their birth parents. “We want to learn more about the tikanga behind whāngai and how these principles could be reflected in our laws,” said Faafoi.

For many, this will be a legislative review with deeply personal elements. On Newshub Nation over the weekend, MP Paul Eagle discussed being adopted out because of a lack of support for solo parents in the 70s. It took 20 years for him to meet his birth mother. He said since sharing his story several years ago hundreds of people have got in touch with stories of their own. If people want to have their say on the law reform, the discussion document can be found here.


Winston Peters has returned to the public eye with a speech at the NZ First party conference. Stuff’s Henry Cooke reports there was a tone of defiance, with Peters vowing he’d bring the party back into parliament in 2023. It was also notable for the attacks made on the government – in fairness, this isn’t exactly one way traffic, with Labour both implicitly and explicitly saying they’ve been pushing ahead since the election with things NZ First put a handbrake on during the last term. Toby Manhire put together an analysis of the speech, and whether NZ First really can make it back.




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