New Zealand

No new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand for sixth day in a row

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said there are only eight active cases in the country and there is still nobody receiving hospital care for the coronavirus.

The eight active cases include five in Waitematā, two in Auckland, and one in Counties Manukau District Health Boards.

Dr Bloomfield said the death toll now included Eileen Hunter, a resident of St Margaret's rest home who died on Sunday and whose family believed had died of Covid-19, despite her having been considered recovered.

Tongan rugby team stranded in NZ after border closed

Team Tu'uakitau came to New Zealand, hoping to score rugby contracts, when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the world and Tonga completely closed its border before they could get home.

"When we heard that Fiji, Samoa and Niue are taking their people home, and we feel our government should do the same," their coach Tuivaita Ueleni tells The Project. "We have the feeling we've been left behind." 

The team has stayed at Tokaikolo Church at the foot of Mangere Mountain during the pandemic and the local community has taken care of them, providing clothing and food.

Strong 5.8 magnitude quake in NZ

The 5.8 quake was centred 30km north-west of Levin, GeoNet said, and was 37km deep. GeoNet had initially assessed the quake as 5.9.

More than 36,000 people, from the Far North to Dunedin, reported feeling the quake.

Trains in the Greater Wellington region are suspended while crews are doing the visual inspection of the full rail network. MetLink said this would cause significant delays this morning at least.

Buses and trains were being held at their nearest station.

There have been no immediate reports of damage.

$195m of NZ govt budget will go to help Pasifika

Pacific peoples minister Aupito William Sio said the money will help with the recovery and rebuild from Covid-19, with the Pacific community among the hardest hit.

$80 million has been set aside for yet-to-be-announced education iniatives, while more than $30 million will go expanding skills, employment and education programmes that already exist.

$40 million will be spent on improving housing for Pacific families, and money has also been budgeted for culture and heritage funds, community content and the construction of a Fale Malae in Wellington.

Pacific airlines holding out for NZ and Australia to reopen

George Faktaufon said Pacific airlines are not going to be able to count on national government support for handouts to keep them afloat, and the clock is already ticking for some airlines.

"It's very hard to plan for something that you are not quite sure when it's going to happen, because we have always planned for something that is certain, but the plan is depending on when Australia and New Zealand are opening up," he said.


New Zealand eases lockdown

The country says it has stopped community transmission of Covid-19, effectively eliminating the virus.

Lowering its alert level from four to three means that some non-essential business, healthcare and schools were able to resume this morning.

Around 400,000 people headed back to work, some schools and childcare facilities are open, and people are allowed to get takeout food again.

New Zealand, partly thanks to its isolation and easily-closed borders, managed to contain the virus early on.

Traveller bound for New Zealand placed under quarantine in Tonga

‘’We are just being extra careful and activated our quarantine process yesterday so that this particular person will be at the quarantine facility at Taliai Camp for the next 14 days,’’ said CEO for Health Dr. Siale ‘Akau’ola.

It is understood that the departing passenger had boarded the Air New Zealand flight at around 2:20pm Thursday when Immigration New Zealand sent a message to the Air New Zealand manager in Tonga to offload one passenger as they deemed him ineligible to arrive under New Zealand’s tightened travel restrictions or face infringement or prosecution.

Tongan seasonal workers in Australia continue working

Tonga’s liaison officer in Australia, Sione Vaka, told Kaniva News all Seasonal Worker Programme employees’ visas had been extended for up to 12 months.

Vaka said Tongan workers had not been charged for the extension.

He said employers were making sure employees would not be infected with the virus.

He said the Australian government had directed all employers to make sure their workers had work to do during the lockdown to help their families in Tonga.

All states were on lockdown, but the workers were exempted because they were doing essential services.

NZ Foreign Minister and Tonga PM discuss cooperation on COVID-19

They discussed the spread of COVID-19 throughout the world, and the particular challenge it poses to the Pacific Islands region.

Minister Peters outlined New Zealand’s domestic approach to tackling COVID-19, as well as its package of support to Pacific Island countries to assist with pandemic preparedness.

Both discussed their countries’ respective lockdowns, and committed to ongoing cooperation on COVID-19 and more broadly on social and economic development.



Repatriation flight from Tonga confirmed

An Air New Zealand flight from Tonga's capital Nuku'alofa to Auckland has been scheduled for next Wednesday, 15 April.

This came as a number of New Zealand citizens and residents had reported to be stuck in Tonga due to border closures and national lockdowns.

The flight is available for those wishing to return to New Zealand, but was subject to the Government of Tonga's approval.

New Zealand citizens and residents are urged to get in touch with the airline directly, or their travel agent, to indicate their interest in boarding the flight.