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The Christchurch Solution – Part 1

Written By: - Date published: 6:15 am, June 23rd, 2011 - 56 comments
Categories: disaster, leadership - Tags: , ,

The Christchurch earthquakes have created a challenge which is unprecedented in this country (and probably very rare in the modern world). Large, densely populated areas are not safe to rebuild. Any government would have struggled with this.

National I think have done poorly so far. They appropriated an unnecessarily large chunk of power through CERA, then didn’t seem to do much with it. The emergency housing response was late (compared to a similar situation in Japan) and misguided (empty camper vans). The delay in getting information to affected residents has been too long, and mishandled by Gerry “blindingly obvious” Brownlee. Patience is not so easy to come by in a damp, freezing, damaged house with no functional plumbing.

But now it’s crunch time, and National could make good. If they get their response right, many in Christchurch will forgive them the delays. The stage show event for Key is today at 1:30, but substantial details have (as seems to be the norm these days) been released in advance. Favoured journo Duncan Garner reports:

Christchurch’s quake-damaged suburbs early details

Residents in Christchurch’s worst-hit suburbs will be told they can leave their homes tomorrow and the Government will pay them out. … The Government will formally name the worst hit suburbs as:

Bexley
Avondale
Horseshoe Lake
Burwood
Dalington
Avonside

3 News understands 90 percent of the houses in Bexley will be demolished.

The Prime Minister was confident he could give those in the worst affected areas clarity, but some tomorrow may have to wait further for a decision. …

Those people covered by tomorrow’s announcement will be offered the choice to stay or leave their home. Choose to go and the Government will pay out those who wish to leave to the value of their house just before the September earthquake. Residents will have nine months to make a decision. … 3 News understands 5000 homes are covered by tomorrow’s announcement.

And the payouts will cost the Government hundreds of millions of dollars up front – insurance companies and EQC will then pay the Government directly.

OK, first the good. A lot of people covered by this deal are going to be relieved, and happy. It will seem like a lifeline in a storm. They will take the money, and find somewhere else to live. Good on them. Furthermore, the system could be (on detail so far) simple and effective. No mucking about for individual households with the nightmare of insurance companies. The offer appears to be a one stop shop, cash up front, no questions asked. Simple and effective (with the government picking up the insurance legwork). Bravo.

Now the bad. A lot of people covered by this deal are going to be disappointed, and angry. The cash on offer is based on the most recent government valuation, which is typically well below market value. Furthermore, the last valuation was conducted in 2007 – prices had increased tens of thousands by 2010. Some people will feel torn by the desire to get out of their shattered suburb, and their anger at an offer which they feel is less than their house is worth (one such example was interviewed on Campbell Live last night).

Now the ugly. There are many many details here and the devil is within them. My first thought is for the uninsured, and families who decide not to take the offer. What to do with the last one or two diehards in an empty street or suburb? Presumably services will never be restored. What then, for those that remain? My fear is that the government will consider that the rescue package discharges their obligations, and that the diehards will be left on their own, in terrible conditions. (Eventually the areas will be bulldozed, and turned in to parkland or similar – what then – forced evictions?) That isn’t right.

A second obvious issue is the lines on the map. As so far described the offer applies to specific suburbs. That’s easy to administer, but liquefaction knows no boundaries, and it will only be an approximate fit to where the help is truly needed. We may get situations where sound houses inside a suburb are offered the buy-out, while damaged ones just outside are not. Then there are the grey areas. Suburbs which have not been listed, but where many houses are affected. What happens to them?

Finally, the missing. What is announced so far is a response to the most pressing issue, but it exists in isolation. What is missing is the plan for Christchurch, or a proposal to rebuild new suburbs to the North or to the West. A vision for the future, or a chance to rebuild together, may have helped many families make the decision to stay in the City that they love. A city that will need them, when so many are choosing to leave.

We’ll have more information following the stage show at 1:30, but I suspect that after it we’ll find that there are still more questions than answers for many families. I’ve labelled this post “The Christchurch Solution – Part 1” because I suspect that it is an issue that will need to be revisited many times.

Be strong, Christchurch.

[Update: According to The Herald “Government offers to buy properties won’t be made for a couple of months”. Why? Why the delay, through the hard months of winter? This is going to cause yet more anger.]

56 comments on “The Christchurch Solution – Part 1”

  1. The cash on offer is based on the most recent government valuation, which is typically well below market value. Furthermore, the last valuation was conducted in 2007 – prices had increased tens of thousands by 2010

    2007 was the height of the global real-estate bubble. It was the highest point for house prices in history.

    • IrishBill 1.1

      Nope. Growth hasn’t been as strong since 2007 but median sale prices are $10-$20k higher now than they were then (depending on which months in 2007 and 2011 you look at).

      That gap may be less in inflation adjusted dollars but we don’t know whether the GV payment will be inflation adjusted yet.

      [IB is correct. I’m sure there are better stats out there, but my source was here. It lists the average Chch house price as $325K in March 2007, and $352K in October 2009. See also this report (Page 15) for a median increase of 10K. r0b]

      • ghostwhowalksnz 1.1.1

        The revaluation figure of 2007 can be adjusted to the date just before the first quake. They have the sales figures from that time , its easy to do a ‘computer revaluation’.
        Remember in any sales process owners hardly get what they ask for and have to come down a bit to close a deal.

      • MarkM 1.1.2

        Median price is a reflection of the range of values of Houses sold.
        Danyl is correct that 2007 prices were higher

      • higherstandard 1.1.3

        [IB is correct. I’m sure there are better stats out there, but my source was here. It lists the average Chch house price as $325K in March 2007, and $352K in October 2009. See also this report (Page 15) for a median increase of 10K. r0b]

        ……………and what’s the average house price now ?

  2. Descendant Of Smith 2

    So they are going to bail out the uninsured and the under-insured?

    They are going to bail out landlords and trusts not just homeowners?

    Presumably banks will have first call on this money to clear their mortgages. There aren’t any guarantees of course that the banks will give the newly unemployed and the old another mortgage if they need one.

  3. burt 3

    rOb

    Nanny should just make the shaking stop.

  4. You’re right AR; the issue will have to be revisited many times, because the whole thing is a moveable feast. The September earthquake caused significant damage in Halswell, on the south-western edge of the city. Halswell School was closed, and to the best of my knowledge has relocated to temporary premises. There was widespread liquefaction. Where was the 5.4 earthquake on Tuesday night located? Just beyond Halswell, as were many of the aftershocks that followed yesterday.

    I agree wholeheartedly that this would have provided a huge challenge to whichever government was in charge. There has been much criticism of National for the length of time it has taken to reach today, but the issues involved are incredibly complex, and if the wrong decisions were made in haste, it could have a catastrophic effect. From what I’ve heard so far, I believe that the government should be commended for at least attempting to give affected homeowners some financial security, then handle the wrangling with the insurers later.

    This is, as you note, part 1, but it’s a start.

    PS: My 2010 RV is about 10% less than 2007.

    • Terry 4.1

      Some of you call this “a start”. I would like to ask what will be the ending? Dare one even think about it?

  5. nadis 5

    https://www.reinz.co.nz/shadomx/apps/fms/fmsdownload.cfm?file_uuid=A2D89DF1-B00A-462C-5EBB-E90911AA6B4D&siteName=reinz

    REINZ also produce monthly data by region and city (in the same part of the site as linked above). Average index value for 2007 = 2988.

    Average index value for the 6 months prior to September 2010 = 2920

    Highest index point ever in ChcH was Sept 2007 at 3093.

    Hard to make the case that 2007 valuations are designed to screw the householders.

    • r0b 5.1

      See my note in comment 1.1 above.

      No one said the 2007 valuation was “designed to screw the householders”. It’s just the number that they’ve got to work with. A much bigger issue is the difference between GV and actual market value prior to the quakes. THe market value now, of many homes, is obviously pretty close to zero.

      • Inventory2 5.1.1

        I think you’ll find that the Christchurch property market was at a pretty low ebb at the end of August 2010. Those most likely to have been affected adversely will be those in elevated suburbs, not in the low-lying eastern suburbs where the property market was pretty stagnant.

      • Lanthanide 5.1.2

        Nah, the market value won’t be 0 for these houses, it’ll be salvage value, depending on what you can take out. Double-glazed aluminium windows in new houses are worth a bit, kitchen cabinetry, hot water cylinders etc. You could go all the way down to light fittings and bathroom heaters if you really wanted. A lot of building material will be usable too, particularly individual bricks that aren’t damaged.

        For any large construction effort, a lot of these resources will simply have to be recycled into the new homes anyway.

        • r0b 5.1.2.1

          I certainly hope that there is a systematic effort to salvage what can be used. We shouldn’t be just condemning all those resources to landfill.

          • higherstandard 5.1.2.1.1

            Sometimes the best option is to have done with it and start again………. when all’s said and done most of what is salvageable there now will be landfill within 10-15 years anyway.

            • Draco T Bastard 5.1.2.1.1.1

              Still better to recycle than throw it in a landfill.

              • higherstandard

                Best you go to CCH and start looting then.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Is it just me or have we ended up with two higherstandards? And which is the real one?

                  Calling lprent to comment 344305

  6. Lanthanide 6

    Ok, so this $1.5B bill, is it coming out of the already earmarked $5B the government has put on the books, or will this be in addition? Budget 2011 out the window already?

    • No; it’s coming out of the $5.5b set aside at Budget for earthquake recovery, so it is already accounted for.

      From the Herald:

      The cost to the taxpayer is unknown – it will depend on the terms of each individual policy and how much is recovered from insurers – but early estimates suggest it could be between $200 million and $500 million.

      The cash will come from the $5.5 billion budgeted in May for earthquake recovery over and above the $3.3 billion allocated for Earthquake Commission and Accident Compensation Corporation payments.

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10733937

  7. ianmac 7

    No one seems to have mentioned the replacement value insurance. Surely insurance companies would have to honour that as opposed to GV?

    • grumpy 7.1

      You would think so, but it only covers the house – not the land and assumes rebuilding on the existing site. With EQC payment capped at $100,000, that leaves quite a shortfall for relocation.

      Lets wait for the detail but as many mentioned before, this is a very complex issue and good for the Govt to take over all dealings with insurers – sort of a SCF solution really.

      • higherstandard 7.1.1

        “..sort of a SCF solution really”

        Apart from the fact that the SCF investors should have been the victims of their own avarice and poor judgement and the people in CCH are in the cak through no fault of their own.

        • grumpy 7.1.1.1

          True, but the idea is the same – Govt take over everything and wave the big stick at insurers (borrowers) etc.

      • Bill 7.1.2

        I really don’t see what is so bloody complicated about all of this…unless the primary focus is to look after insurance companies rather than people.

        If a house was covered by replacement value insurance, then the insurance companies should cough up. No ifs or buts.

        If the land is unsuitable for rebuilding, then under CERA the government has the power to make compulsory purchases of land (to the west?) thereby allowing for home replacement.

        For those without insurance…and I guess given the socio economic situation of many in eastern suburbs, that will be a not insubstantial number of people…then the same compulsorily purchased land can be built on by government in order to rehouse those people.

        Short/medium term, the kit set houses that featured on Campbell Live (20 built in 2 weeks) that are sitting around in a holding yard could be built and rolled out on government purchased land with the intention of constructing more substantial dwellings in their stead over the medium/ long term.

        In effect, some home owners remain home owners. Some become renters in government housing stock and renters remain renters.

        • Draco T Bastard 7.1.2.1

          …unless the primary focus is to look after insurance companies rather than people.

          It’s a government of Big Business – what do you think it’s primary focus is going to be?

  8. Colonial Viper 8

    r0b makes a good point – we appear to have a Government plan in place to help people in the worst affected suburbs cut their ties and leave (to where/how/with what assistance?).

    Still waiting on the plan forthe future of Christchurch however.

    Simple working assumption: Christchurch is going to continue having severe shakes for the next 5 to 10 years.

    • Lanthanide 8.1

      GNS Science seem to think that the quake action should fall back to pre-September levels (I’d previously felt 3 in 25 years) within 18-24 months.

      • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1

        But does mean that building between now and then is rather ridiculous? After all, there’s no point in building anything if it’s just going to fall down again.

  9. tsmithfield 9

    I think the leak last night was quite deliberate. Probably the worst case scenario has been leaked, and what comes out today will probably be better in most instances, and greeted with relief as a result.

    • D’you think so TS; Patrick Gower from 3News was on Twitter yesterday afternoon urging people who received any advice from government, CERA or CCC officials to get in touch with him. The Herald and Newstalk ZB were doing likewise. Personally, I’d like to see the media bugger off today, and let the people who are affected by this announcement digest and process the news without a microphone or camera being stuck in their face to record their emotions for the nation to see. This is one occasion where the MSM could actually earn plaudits for a “softly, softly” approach.

      • tsmithfield 9.1.1

        I heard Key on the radio this morning saying that the type of insurance policy will have an influence on the payout. (e.g. market value v replacement value policies) So I expect there is a bit more to it than a simple GV pay out on house and land.

        Perhaps a GV buyout on house and land will apply to houses in the designated zones that are undamaged. Houses like my parents that is in Horseshoe lake but written off might get a GV payout on the land, and then the insurance company builds them a new one on another section.

        Who knows. We will have to wait and see.

        My parents obviously will be very interested.

    • Colonial Viper 9.2

      Under promise and over deliver, its tried and true. Although NAT usually seems to have difficulty understanding the principle. (Seeing r0b’s update).

  10. r0b 10

    Just added the following update.  According to The Herald “Government offers to buy properties won’t be made for a couple of months”.  Why?  Why the delay, through the hard months of winter?  This is going to cause yet more anger.

    • grumpy 10.1

      Stuff that, if some people want to get “angry”, they should just tell the Govt to stuff their offer and deal direct with EQC, insurers etc.

      All this so called “anger” in the face of a huge natural disaster is ridiculous.

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.1

        All this so called “anger” in the face of a huge natural disaster is ridiculous.

        Exactly.

        People living in desperation and filth for months should not feel any “so-called’ anger (what the fuck is the difference between “so-called” anger and “actual” anger, BTW?)

        Facing ruined futures for their families they should not expect their Government to do more for them than provide unaffordable campervans, photo ops, royal tours and trite statements.

        BTW the earthquakes may be considered a huge natural disaster and of course feeling angry at a natural disaster is not very productive but it happens; Brownlee and his lack of leadership and planning, cannot however be said to be a ‘natural disaster’ even though the effects are similar.

        • prism 10.1.1.1

          grumpy – The earthquakes are of course one huge natural disaster. The second and connected disaster, is the political withholding of information with no or insufficient, discussion about the problems, the planned solutions and how the various agencies will co-ordinate. And after two distinct big earthquakes still the same approach so that when the third came along there was still an inadequate consultation process, instead of the badly affected people being kept updated about the planning and work..

          There should have been large weekly meetings open to the public and media, giving a listening ear to the urgent needs, with quick responses and explanations of progress and delays. It is quite reasonable and healthy for people to be angry, to be otherwise would show a mental breakdown, sunk in apathy and hopelessness.

        • grumpy 10.1.1.2

          Somewher a culture of “anger” has developed in all things that people can’t control, even extends to temper, jealousy, envy etc. etc.

          What good is “anger” in a natural disaster? What if we had a tsunami, bush fires, floods etc.???

          The Japanese seem much more able to withstand bouts of undirected “anger”. It seems clear that the older generations, many of whom remember hardship and WWII seem to be handling things much better than those who have never had to cope with adversity.

          • prism 10.1.1.2.1

            Gee grumpy did you even read my comment. I said that people were angry about the way that authorities have been running the assistance after the natural disaster. That’s what I was saying. Couldn’t you understand what I wrote. And you waffling on about the way that people should behave isn’t helpful or compassionate to Christchurch people. Recalling the past nostalgically – thinking of phrases like how we stuck it out in the blitz, how we took it on the chin, had a stiff upper lip, doesn’t indicate the slightest empathy. Shame on you.

            As for Japanese – their culture is different to ours. They repress feelings a lot I think.
            I heard recently about the Japanese Embassy in Paris having to assist their people visiting there because they couldn’t handle the culture shock of rude Parisians and the uncontrolled rather dissipated city that is so different from the romantic image presented by travel promotions. One man was sent home with a nurse in attendance. That’s just what I heard. E&OE

    • Colonial Viper 10.2

      I would say because the Govt felt it had to do something given the public mood and pressure from Labour MPs pointing out massive shortfalls, but it didn’t actually have any plans in place for this plan. It’s something they have cobbled together in the last 1 week.

      So in fact they have not set up any processes or systems to actually implement it yet.

      That is what the next 2-3 months will be for.

      And guess what…I bet the first few offers will be made in a “couple of months.” But it will be a long time before all 5000 offers get made. A long long time.

      I wonder when the timer on that 9 month window for residents to make a decision starts.

      • Lanthanide 10.2.1

        A “couple of months” ties in nicely with the RWC, so media reporting on it will be drowned out, although I’m sure local reporting in CHCH will be quite pervasive as we don’t have any local cup games of our own anymore.

        • Colonial Viper 10.2.1.1

          So they’d have to get all the offers finalised by the end of the RWC then; they wouldn’t want this dragging into November as it would pose multiple risks for them.

          A lot of people are going to be waiting a while longer to hear anything.

          (queue the astroturfers saying that assessing properties is time consuming etc and four months(!!!) isn’t enough time to have assessed the houses in those suburbs etc)

      • Draco T Bastard 10.2.2

        …but it didn’t actually have any plans in place for this plan. It’s something they have cobbled together in the last 1 week.

        Well, it’s been about a week since I suggested it…

        I wonder when the timer on that 9 month window for residents to make a decision starts.

        Well, if they were doing it correctly, the day the offer gets signed as received with witnesses present. But they’ll probably just settle for putting a public notice in the local rag.

    • NickS 10.3

      What. The. Fuck.

      It should be ready to go as of this week to reduce the hardship, heck there’s already far to many elderly and those with respiratory issues living without decent heating sources plus power/water/sewerage at present with is going to lead to more hospital admissions and winter deaths.

      It is unlikely the Government will deem any area so badly damaged it must be abandoned.

      Mr Brownlee said yesterday that no area was too damaged to be fixed.

      “All land can be repaired,” he said. “There is an issue then about how easily that is achieved, the time it will take and what will be the disruptive factors for communities.”

      /facepalm

      Generally fucked land stays fucked, and on top of that, many of the affect areas are within a couple of meters of the current sea level and thus at increased risk of flooding. So ruling these areas out for rebuilding would have a long term benefit of avoiding much higher sea level rise mitigation costs. Along with planning new subdivisions out west to factor in public transport, services etc, but instead it looks like National is going to provide a solution that fails to consider any future issues.

      Bravo you morons, bravo.

      • Colonial Viper 10.3.1

        At the very least, the saleable value of repaired land in any of these affected areas drops to $100 or so per sq m, and future insurance premiums go up quad times or more.

        So yeah, technically the land could be repaired, but whoever did it would suffer massive losses.

    • weka 10.4

      Someone pointed out to me yesterday that in the time it takes NZ to talk about what to do, Japan will have rebuilt much of its infrastructure and housing damaged in the tsunami.

  11. Chris 11

    National have done well. This sems a a fair deal. They have my vote.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      Only a third or a quarter of heavily damaged houses in Christchurch have anything resembling a resolution, and the first payments have not even been made yet.

      Maybe you could watch how things actually turn out and hang back from making a decision until say, Nov 25? 🙂

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    . . 24 March 2020 9.46AM Number of covid19 cases in Aotearoa New Zealand: 102 . As of 11.59 on Thursday, most of New Zealand will go into “lock down”. People will be expected not to travel to work; not to socialise; and to stay home. I will not be ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    4 days ago
  • Aggressive action to address climate change could save the world $145 trillion
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections A respected research group, Project Drawdown, finds that deploying solutions consistent with meeting the Paris climate targets would cost tens of trillions of dollars globally. But crucially, those outlays would also yield long-term savings many times larger than the up-front costs. The new 2020 Drawdown ...
    4 days ago
  • After the Pandemic
    It will pass. What happens next? Not immediately, but longer term. There are many opinions, fewer certainties. Will it “change everything!” as many confidently, and contradictorily predict? In this post I look at how foresight can help bound some of the uncertainties so you can more objectively consider the future. ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    4 days ago
  • Coronavirus – Cuba shows the way
    We’ve been meaning t write something on Cuba and the coronavirus but have just discovered a very good article on the subject in the US left publication Jacobin.  The article looks at how Cuba, a poor country but one where capitalism has been done away with, is leading the way ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    4 days ago
  • Using privacy law to prevent the death penalty
    In 2018, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey - two British citizens who had purportedly been stripped of their citizenship by the British government - were captured while fighting for Isis in Syria. The British government then conspired to hand them over to the US, and agreed to provide evidence ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • It’s Time For Disaster Socialism.
    Transformers: The disaster of the Great Depression was transformed into a new and fairer society by the democratic socialism of the First Labour Government. The disaster of the Covid-19 Pandemic offers a similar transformative possibility to the Labour-NZ First-Green Government. Seize the time, Jacinda! You will never have a better ...
    4 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #12, 2020
    Tamper with The System? Well, we already are. But there's a difference between accidentally trickling sand into a precision gearbox versus formulating a plan to alter it on the fly with improvements in mind. One action is more or less innocently unscrupulous, the other amenable to earning an easy ...
    5 days ago
  • Avoidable hospitalisations: Helping our health system get through COVID-19
    Associate Prof George Thomson, Louise Delany, Prof Nick Wilson While it is possible that New Zealand can use intense public health controls to eradicate COVID-19 from the country – we must also plan for other scenarios where thousands of New Zealanders are sick – including many urgently hospitalised.1 Better resilience ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    5 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: 10 questions to ask your employer proposing redundancy
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or being ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    5 days ago
  • An equitable way to support business
    The Herald reports that the government is planning to lend billions of dollars to large businesses to keep them operating during the pandemic. As with mortgage relief, this is necessary: we need companies to stay in business, to reduce the economic damage and help things get restarted again when this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Hard News: Together Alone
    We're about to do something unprecedented as a nation. We hope that by taking this extraordinary action before a single life in New Zealand has been lost to the deadly novel virus we will save tens of thousands of lives. Our  lives. We'll do it together, in households, in isolation ...
    5 days ago
  • Why timing is everything: ‘A time to refrain from embracing’ starts today
    “There is a time for everything,    and a season for every activity under the heavens.”So writes the author of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Old Testament that’s counted as a ‘wisdom’ book and written as if by an unnamed king of Jerusalem. But who would have thought there would be a time ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    6 days ago
  • Dealing with the Covid-19 Tsunami.
    I was surprised when the prime minister described the Economic Response to Covid-19 package as the ‘largest peacetime government spend in New Zealand's history’. Reflecting – checking through history – I realised that the term ‘spend’ was crucial and the package had no income tax cuts. Even so, it has ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    6 days ago
  • What about renters?
    The government today announced the latest part of its pandemic relief package: a six-month mortgage holiday for people whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic. Which is great, because these people are going to need help, and that's what the government should be doing. At the same time, it ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Living within our means.
    Years ago the Argentine sociologist Carlos Weisman wrote a book titled “Living within our Means.” It was a critique of Argentine society that focused on the paradoxical question of why, in a land of plenty, there was so much economic instability, inequality, corruption and political turmoil. His conclusion was basically ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    6 days ago
  • Transparency and the pandemic
    Parliament will be leading by example and adjourning tomorrow after a special sitting to consider an epidemic notice and state of emergency. Day-to-day oversight of the government will be delegated to a select committee. But that's not the only overight mechanism. The OIA will still be law, and (so far) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • ‘Overjoyed’: a leading health expert on New Zealand’s coronavirus shutdown, and the challengin...
    Michael Baker, University of Otago Overjoyed. That’s not a word epidemiologists normally use, but that’s how I felt after hearing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement about New Zealand’s COVID-19 shutdown of everything except essential services for at least four weeks from midnight on Wednesday. More than anything, I just ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    6 days ago
  • One way to solve the housing crisis
    How much homelessness is caused by house hoarding? We're about to find out. The pandemic has destroyed tourism, which means that house hoarders who put their hoarded properties up as short-term tourist rentals are now offering them on the ordinary rental market:Property investors are pulling properties from Airbnb to offer ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • The pros and cons of planting trees to address global warming
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bruce Lieberman It seems like such a simple, straightforward, empowering idea: plant trees – a lot of trees – all over the world, and watch the planet’s temperature fall. Who doesn’t love a tree or two, even far more – the right ...
    6 days ago
  • Not a grand coalition, but a government of national salvation
    According to Newshub, Simon Bridges is open to joining a “grand coalition” with Labour as we hunker down to go into a month long lockdown. The idea is sound. Before now, the role of the opposition was to scrutinise and oppose. In the context of what almost amounts to a ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: hospitality workers & wage subsidy entitlements
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • Lifting our game against COVID-19
    We need to be lifting our game against COVID-19. You and I need to help those working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while they’re trying to lift the testing and treatment efforts. We don’t want to be playing this game running backwards. Best to play it solidly forward, from ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • The maths and ethics of minimising COVID-19 deaths in NZ
    Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Michael Baker, and Prof Nick Wilson The NZ Government must do more to clearly articulate its COVID-19 strategy: eradication or ‘flattening the curve’ mitigation. But to do so means understanding the maths and ethics of both these strategies. In this blog, we adapt our work for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • All aboard the Covid Train
    A few days ago I was starting to write something about the pandemic, which now seems unconscionable. It took the form of a letter to an agony aunt:“Dear Deidre, I have an ugly confession. I am quite excited by Covid-19.”This is how the piece went:“I’m not a psychopath, honest. Although the ...
    PunditBy Phil Vine
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #12
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters The likelihood of extreme events ...
    1 week ago
  • We are all socialists now
    Last week, the government announced a $12 billion initial package to support people during the pandemic. Today, the Reserve Bank is buying government bonds - effectively printing money - to keep up the money supply during the crisis. Normally such moves would have the right apoplectic. Instead, the National Party ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A plea to experts: safeguard your role in public life
    I am a pundit, somebody who opines and comments on the news. There are no real qualifications to punditry though having a rudimentary way with words and good general knowledge helps. That is one reason there is a constant oversupply of would-be pundits and why it is quite hard to ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Enlightenment when?
    I recently encountered the following prescription from a Faculty of Education at a leading New Zealand University. At first I wondered if it was another product of the postmodern generator (http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/), designed to create gibberish in the postmodern form, but I’m told it is real: The “schooled” society: Towards the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Corballis
    1 week ago
  • What the Crisis Can teach Us
    The coronavirus pandemic has of course had a major impact on individual lives and on societies as a whole. But, long after the crisis has passed (assuming it does), we will begin to realise that its real and lasting significance lies in the lessons it has taught us, if only ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Hammering home measures to stop COVID-19
    COVID-19 has plunged Aotearoa New Zealand (indeed, the world) into territory that, while maybe not totally unprecedented, certainly hasn’t been seen during the lifetimes of most of us here today. Our borders are closed to non-citizens, we’re being told not to gather in groups of more than 500 outside/100 inside, ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 week ago
  • What does ‘level two’ mean – and why does it matter?
    For the last few weeks, I’ve been urging you to prepare yourself, your family, business, and community for Covid-19. Now it’s time for real action.  Yesterday the director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced another 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, bringing our total to date to 52. ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #12
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 15, 2020 through Sat, Mar 21, 2020 Editor's Pick Now Isn’t the Time to Forget About Our Climate Change Efforts   Tasha Tilberg, Lindsey Wixson, and Liu Wen photographed ...
    1 week ago
  • Is the Guardian becoming  a real newspaper again?
    by Jan Rivers The article has been corrected to show that it was Ewen MacAskill, former Guardian journalist and not Luke Harding who travelled to meet Edward Snowden with journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras.  Some of the Guardian’s well-known journalists who did not sign the protest letter are ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Life asserts itself regardless
    by Cultural Worker Late March 2020 amidst the virus. With gigs crashing and burning all around it was without much hope that I called a long standing rest home booking: “ Hi, I’m supposed to be entertaining at your place this afternoon – is it still on?” “”If you don’t ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Politics, the possible, and the pandemic
    Whenever people demand real change from their politicians, we're told that "politics is the art of the possible". The implication is that change isn't possible, so we'd better just get used to the sucky status quo. But now that there's a pandemic, a lot of things we were previously told ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The Only Way Through This Crisis Is Together.
    Together: In leading New Zealand through the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Prime Minister could do a lot worse than allow herself to be guided by the spirit of collective sacrifice and co-operation that animated the New Zealanders of 80 years ago. Most Kiwis alive today have had no opportunity to prove their ...
    1 week ago
  • GFC vs Covid-19
    It is said that generals fight the last war. In the case of the early stages of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) they had learned from the Great Depression of the 1930s and they fought intelligently and successfully. Later their advice would be ignored in favour of the Austerians who ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    2 weeks ago
  • Nobody Left Behind.
    Solidarity Forever: All over the world, the arrival of the Covid-19 virus has exposed the fragility of the walls we erect around ourselves and our loved ones. It has shattered our illusions of autonomy and revealed to us how utterly dependent we all are on other human-beings. Finally, we see ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Rebuilding a truly “Democratic” counter, or a “moderate Republican” bolt-hol...
    Looking across the various arguments for/against the leading candidates to take the Democratic Nomination, you might honestly be very hard pressed to tell. There are a number of things that have now started happening since Amy Klobuchar and “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg both threw the towel in and immediately (and ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 weeks ago
  • Abortion law reform a win for women
    by Daphna Whitmore Abortion is no longer in the Crimes Act in New Zealand. The law reform passed yesterday and now abortion is a medical matter between a woman and her doctor. Many women’s groups and progressive people have campaigned for reform for decades. The women’s liberation movement and some ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • How to spot bogus science stories and read the news like a scientist
    Doug Specht, University of Westminster and Julio Gimenez, University of Westminster When fake news, misreporting and alternative facts are everywhere, reading the news can be a challenge. Not only is there plenty of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other scientific topics floating around social media, you also ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Why New Zealand needs to continue decisive action to contain coronavirus
    Michael Baker, University of Otago and Nick Wilson, University of Otago With some of the toughest border restrictions and a newly-announced NZ$500 million boost to health services, New Zealand is among a small number of countries with a strategy to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand is also fortunate in ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Parliament and the pandemic II
    As expected, the government has introduced a sessional order to allow Parliament to operate during the pandemic. You can read it on the Order Paper here, but the short version is that questions and motions can be filed electronicly, select committees can work remotely, and the the Business Committee can ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • When a virus goes viral: pros and cons to the coronavirus spread on social media
    Axel Bruns, Queensland University of Technology; Daniel Angus, Queensland University of Technology; Timothy Graham, Queensland University of Technology, and Tobias R. Keller, Queensland University of Technology News and views about coronavirus has spread via social media in a way that no health emergency has done before. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • How to survive 14 days of self-isolation
    So you’ve recently returned from overseas, come into contact with someone who tested positive, got a bit of a dry cough yourself or perhaps just want to self isolate for 14 days to avoid other people who might have COVID-19. Here are a few tips and tricks to help get ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Abortion Legislation Bill passes third reading
    Some fave speeches:     ...
    Boots TheoryBy Stephanie Rodgers
    2 weeks ago
  • Why Leadership Matters – More Than Anything.
    Our Good Fortune: Precisely because she has never been an ideologue (she calls herself a “pragmatic idealist”) Jacinda Ardern has a political nimbleness and spontaneity which, when infused with her exceptional emotional intelligence, produces spectacular demonstrations of leadership. Jacinda's empathic political personality contrasts sharply with the less-than-sunny ways of her ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #11, 2020
    2 weeks ago
  • 68-51
    The Abortion Legislation Bill has just passed its third reading, 68-51. NZ First MPs bailed because their referendum amendment didn't pass, but there were plenty of MPs to provide a majority without them. The bill is a long way from perfect - most significantly, it subjects pregnant people who need ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The ‘herd immunity’ route to fighting coronavirus is unethical and potentially dangerous
    As most of the world tries to suppress the coronavirus spread, some countries are going it alone – trying to manage the pandemic through so-called “herd immunity”. Herd immunity means letting a large number of people catch a disease, and hence develop immunity to it, to stop the virus spreading. ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Eight new COVID-19 cases today. It’s no surprise when you look at some numbers
    So, as I sit at home with a very, very slight headache (i.e. not at work when I would otherwise be so), the now familiar figure of Ashley Bloomfield reports eight new confirmed cases of COVID-19  including two in Waikato. A surprise, given that we had just twelve yesterday? No. ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    2 weeks ago
  • The WINZ Paradox versus the new COVID-19 Reality: Get real people, seriously…
    Many who advocated for, and voted for, the current Coalition – particularly those who voted Labour and the Green Party – expected to see a sea change in the reality of social services. A real, deep change of attitude, approach of process through which the system negotiates the difficult and ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 weeks ago

  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says 36 new intensive care beds at Christchurch Hospital’s new Hagley building are being fast tracked so they are available for treatment of COVID-19 patients.   The Ministry of Health is working with contractor CPB and Canterbury DHB to enable access to the hospital’s ICU, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    28 mins ago
  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
    The Government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight to and from New Zealand, with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Phil Twyford says it’s crucial that trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    10 hours ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government working to keep air freight moving
    Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has today announced details of the Government’s support package to keep key air freight moving and ensure New Zealanders retain access to essential goods during the four-week level 4 lockdown. “The Government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand’s key ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
    New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict New Zealand to move up to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – Eliminate, in 48 hours Two-staged approach to give people and businesses time to prepare  Level 3, from tomorrow Non-essential businesses must close All events and gatherings must be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased
    Good afternoon  The Cabinet met this morning to discuss our next actions in the fight against COVID-19.  Like the rest of the world, we are facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus. But, through decisive action, and through working together, do we have a small window to get ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt takes significant economic decisions as NZ readies for Alert Level 4 in COVID-19 fight
    The Government is announcing significant further support for the economy, workers and businesses as the country unites to prepare for Alert Level 4 in the fight against COVID-19. Cabinet today agreed to remove the cap on the Government’s wage subsidy scheme, which will inject a further $4 billion into the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt backs RBNZ move to support economy with lower interest rates
    The Government is backing the Reserve Bank’s latest action to support the economy by reducing longer-term interest rates, meaning lower costs for businesses and mortgage holders, and a lower currency to help our exporters. The Minister of Finance has signed a memorandum of understanding and a letter of indemnity with ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government statement on commercial cooperation during COVID-19
    The Government has asked the Commerce Commission to take account of the exceptional circumstances created by COVID-19 when monitoring business behaviour in coming weeks.   “The purpose of my request to the Commerce Commission is to make sure businesses can work together in ways that will allow them to provide ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand temporarily closes diplomatic posts in Barbados and Myanmar due to COVID-19
    The New Zealand Government has temporarily closed its High Commission in Bridgetown, Barbados and its Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “Due to the increasing scarcity of air links in and out of Bridgetown and Yangon, and the pressure COVID-19 is placing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Supporting Māori communities and businesses through
    Associate Health and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare has today announced the Government’s plan to support Māori communities and businesses in the face of COVID-19. “Our Government’s $12.1 billion economic package will help many Māori whānau, workers and businesses, whether it’s through wage subsidies, income support and worker redeployment, or ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Guidelines for hospitality establishments released
    The Government and the hospitality industry have worked together to produce guidelines to assist with managing and reducing transmission of COVID-19, Health Minister David Clark announced today.  The guidelines developed between the Government, Hospitality New Zealand and SkyCity Entertainment Group, set out how the new restrictions on physical distancing and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Nation steps up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2
    Four stage Alert System for COVID-19 announced New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 – Reduce Contact New Zealanders over 70 and those with certain medical conditions told to stay at home as much as they can to reduce risk of contact with the virus Workplaces to implement ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • PM Address – Covid-19 Update
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  • NZ and Singapore commit to keeping supply and trade links open, including on essential goods and med...
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  • Joint Ministerial Statement by Singapore and New Zealand -Covid-19 situation
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  • Transit between Australia and New Zealand
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  • $100 million to redeploy workers
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  • More support for wood processing
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  • Govt steps in to protect Air New Zealand
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  • Stronger border measures to protect NZers from COVID-19
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  • Action on indoor gatherings and events to protect public health
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