New Zealand

PM makes alert level announcement for Auckland

Cabinet met this afternoon to decide whether the risk of Covid-19 spreading has diminished enough for Auckland to move to alert level 1.

Eight cases that had recently emerged had all been linked and close contacts of the mother of a family at the centre of the outbreak had all produced negative results, she said.

Cabinet had decided to make face coverings mandatory in all public transport across NZ at levels one and two.

Pasifika unemployment in NZ rising, report shows

The State of the Nation report shows Pasifika unemployment at 8.1 percent, up from 7.4 percent the previous year and nearly twice that of Pakeha at 4.3 percent.

Salvation Army lawyer and policy analyst Ronji Tanielu said the job losses that came with Covid-19 restrictions impacted a lot of Pasifika people.

"If you think about where Pasifika people are located in our industries, we're generally making up hospitality, manufacturing, even some tourism and those were some of the areas that were directly affected by the job losses because of Covid."

Tonga repatriation flights scheduled for 3 March

The repatriation flights are from Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

MEIDECC Chief Executive Officer, Paula Ma’u said the repatriates will be quarantined at Tanoa International Hotel and Makeke Camp in Vaini.

Passengers on the flight from Fiji include Tongan nationals who were in India, Friendly Island Shipping Agency crew members, Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and students who studied abroad.

All the passengers have completed quarantine requirements in Fiji and are waiting return to Tonga.

New venue announced for NZ's 2021 Nesian Festival

The event begun in 2007 to give the Pacific community in Hamilton; an annual Pacific festival; a Pacific early learning space; and a Pacific health service.

K'aute Pasifika is a charitable trust based in Hamilton, providing health, education and social services to Pasifika communities and other ethnicities.

The trust is also the organisers of the Nesian Festival and this year have announced that it will take place on Saturday 27 March 2021 and for the first time, it will be held at the University of Waikato sportsground.

Pasifika community urged to remain calm and compliant

Auckland moved to Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country to Alert Level 2 after three community cases of Covid-19 were discovered.

Genomic sequencing revealed the cases were the UK variant of the virus and authorities were conducting contact tracing to try and determine the origin and extent of the latest outbreak.

Auckland Paediatrician, Teuila Percival, urged Pasifika communities to apply all the lessons learned from past outbreaks.

Australia stops quarantine-free travel for New Zealand after Covid-19 cases

The trans-Tasman bubble was set up so people could fly from New Zealand to Australia without needing to spend 14 days in a hotel.

However, Australia's expert medical panel made a decision late on Sunday night to change the system.

It means any New Zealanders that fly into Australia from Monday will have to spend a fortnight in hotel quarantine.

The new rule will remain in place for the next three days before the situation is reassessed.

NZ govt to discuss vaccine rollout in Pacific

Medical authorities in New Zealand have already approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for use to immunise people 16 years and older.

"We'll be really looking to have conversations with our counterparts in the Pacific around what might be possible with some of those trickier vaccines so that we can see similar levels of protection provided in the Pacific at the same time as we might be seeing that in New Zealand," said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Ardern said her government was also in discussions about how vaccine distribution will work in the Pacific.

Tonga education project launched

In December 2019, a Statement of Partnership was signed by both countries, which laid out the principles and priorities under which they will work together.

A key priority was Tonga's education policy framework.

It aims to find what areas and issues should be targeted in the education sector, better use of resources and an education sector that has greater impact.

It also wants more cohesion across the sector and enabling Tonga to be in a better position to attract development partner investment and support.

New Zealand's first Covid-19 vaccine given provisional approval

It comes after a robust assessment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s safety, effectiveness and quality by medicines regulator Medsafe.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says the first phase of rolling out the vaccine can now begin.

“Following Medsafe’s approval, Ministry of Health officials will give advice to the Government this week about the ‘decision to use’ the vaccine. This will essentially set out who are most suited to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, such as age ranges.”

Tonga passes on latest Recognised Seasonal Employer intake in NZ

In November, Business Central welcomed the government's decision to allow an extra 2,000 experienced seasonal workers into New Zealand in from January to mid-March this year.

Samoa, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Fiji have confirmed their participation in the horticulture and viticulture seasonal work.

However, Tonga has had to pass on the opportunity because they are unable to meet certain criteria of the new programme, which includes a guaranteed return flight home at the end of the season.