(File photo, Radio NZ)

The Bulletin: School holiday fears of measles spreading

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: School holiday fears of measles spread, pressure on Northland public health system, and logger who criticised Shane Jones goes public.

The measles outbreak is approaching a potentially dangerous phase, with school holidays underway. Warnings were issued last week that cases could spread further around the country, as the possibility of people who are incubating the disease go travelling, particularly out of Auckland. Tragic outcomes have also been occurring among pregnant women who contracted measles – two lost their unborn babies in the second trimester of their pregnancy, because of complications. Those who are pregnant are being urged to proactively check their vaccination status.

It all could potentially have been prevented had the ministry of health acted on years of warnings, reports Farah Hancock for Newsroom. There were previous calls for catch-up campaigns to get immunisation rates back up. They’re now being repeated amid the current outbreak, amid fears that the vaccine shortage means there will still be gaps in the immunised population.

That number of vaccines is now sufficient to meet demand from priority demographics. However it is still not reaching everyone who needs it, reports Newshub. They’ve run a story about an early childhood teaching centre employee who was turned away, because she wasn’t on a priority list – despite being in direct contact with children because of her job. To date, there have now been 1544 confirmed cases in the outbreak.


Pressure is being heaped on the public health system in Northland, with a GP shortage having a particularly harsh impact, reports the Northern Advocate’s (paywalled) Imran Ali. Some Northlanders are waiting weeks for an appointment, amid a shrinking medical workforce and rising general population. Kaitaia health services are in serious strife, with all three clinics having to close their doors to new patients.


One of the loggers who criticised minister Shane Jones’ comments at the Forestry Awards has gone public. The NZ Herald reports Pat Cox, a veteran of 50 years in the industry, has stood by his comments, which were that Jones turned a neutral event into a chance for electioneering. Cox also welcomed the threat of revenge at election time, saying “if he wants to have a scrap with me, then bring it on.”


The latest round of business confidence surveys (it’s down again) lend an air of inevitability to further interest rate cuts, writes David Hargreaves at Interest. Business confidence has plenty of problems as a measurement, but there was also a decline in trading activity of the firms surveyed, “which is a better indicator of demand in the New Zealand economy.” It also strengthens the case for some sort of fiscal stimulus from the government, a case made by Kiwibank chief economist Jarrod Kerr on The Spinoff this morning.


Whānau Ora minister Peeni Henare is being challenged by Commissioning Agencies, over how new government funding is being distributed, reports Radio NZ. $80 million in extra spending was put towards Whānau Ora, but North Island commissioning agency chair Merepeka Raukawa-Tait said a cut of that is also going to the likes of Te Puni Kōkiri, the Department of Corrections and the Ministry of Social Development. Henare responded by calling the claims “mistruths”, and that “any claim or assertion that the money is going back into the middle is just false.”


There is – quite seriously – a lobby group that has been formed with the aim of abolishing daylight saving. Stuff reports it hasn’t really gained any traction with political parties in New Zealand, but it is an idea whose time has come in Europe at least. At the moment the campaign is looking for funding, to get polling done on whether we should move to permanent summer hours.


A correction from yesterday, about voting in local elections. A message in this story on The Spinoff indicated that ID would be needed to vote at one-stop shops. However, that is not the case – voters do not need to show ID to cast a vote. The story has now been updated, please let people know who may have got the wrong information. And thanks as always to everyone who got in touch with the correction.


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Right now on The Spinoff: Kristin Hall has a fascinating piece about a small Irish town that became a focal point for Britain’s worst racist trolls against refugee resettlement. Andrew Geddis writes about the cruel irony at the heart of a court decision on the cancellation of the Southern and Molyneux event last year. MP Chlöe Swarbrick writes about what politicians must do in the wake of the massive climate strikes last week. Know Your Stuff NZ put up some robust criticisms to NZ First’s stance against festival drug testing. And Amy Russell explains why she enjoys the “harmless quirk” of hardly ever wearing shoes.


Without real emissions cuts, New Zealand’s glaciers could be gone by the end of the century. That’s the frightening top line of this piece by Veronika Meduna in the Listener, which looks at what the wider effects of glacier loss would be. Along with economic upheaval, it will also increasingly result in habitat destruction. Here’s an excerpt:

Until recently, biologists thought that native alpine species were relatively safe because cold winters kept warm-blooded mammals at bay. But stoats are known to roam beyond the treeline and Warren Chinn once found a dead mouse on the 2174m summit of Mt Armstrong, in Mt Aspiring National Park.

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As it gets warmer, he says, alpine species seem to be moving up to stay within their comfort zone, but “things that are lower and more adapted to warmer temperatures have moved a greater vertical distance than those  that are adapted to colder temperatures”.

The alpine environment has expanded and contracted in the past, and Chinn says it will not disappear entirely. “But the difference is the arrival of mammalian warm-blooded predators that can now survive the winter.”


An incredible story of redemption on one of the biggest stages in Australian sport. Sportsfreak has covered the story of Marlion Pickett, who seven years ago was in prison for several offences. After he got out, he started working his way up through the state leagues. Then eventually, he got called up for the Richmond Tigers to play in their reserves. Injury struck, and Pickett got a debut in the Grand Final against the GWS Giants, and was magnificent. As a story, it absolutely couldn’t be scripted.


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