NZ

9047 new community cases and a further 13 deaths reported in NZ

Thursday's seven-day rolling average of case numbers is 7705, down from 7935 last week.

There are 484 people in hospital with the virus - with 15 in ICU.

The 13 deaths reported yesterday included people who had died over the previous nine days, apart from two deaths on 4 April. The Ministry of Health said 723 people with Covid-19 had now died in New Zealand.

Overstayers affected by Tonga volcano eruption seeking work visas

Some parts of the island nation were completely wiped out or left largely uninhabitable when the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha'apai volcano erupted, triggering a tsunami.

It’s estimated the disaster has cost Tonga $175 million or almost a quarter of its GDP.

It means that many of the roughly 2500 Tongan overstayers living in New Zealand have been left stranded and are also supporting family back home who’ve also been caught up in the Omicron outbreak.

Dan Carter takes on 24-hour kickathon for charity

Returning to Eden Park to launch his dedicated fundraising platform in association with UNICEF, the DC10 fund, Carter is taking on a 24-hour kickathon.

He is aiming to knock 1598 kicks between the posts in a period of 24 hours - matching the total number of points the first-five notched in his All Black career.

Funds raised from the event will be put toward UNICEF's water sanitation and hygiene programme for children in the Pacific.

     

Tonga eruption: RSE workers arrive in NZ

An Air New Zealand flight left the Tongan capital Nukua'lofa on Tuesday and arrived in Auckland with passengers and cargo from the island.

RSE official Emma Sherwood said this was the first contingent of workers - 32 of them - from the Kingdom since the volcanic eruption and tsunami more than two weeks ago.

"They are going to a number of employers in Hawke's Bay and Nelson as we come into the pip fruit harvest," Sherwood said.

"But they will likely be given the opportunity to work in other sectors and different crops that come to harvest as well."

Christchurch International Airport considering bond offer

The airport's bottom line was affected by the pandemic, as international traveller numbers fell by 95 percent.

This contributed to about $21 million in lost earnings.

Despite the various lockdowns in the past 12 months, domestic tourism fell just 6 percent to 3.6m.

Total traveller numbers through the airport fell from 5.2m in the past financial year to 3.7m.

"We spent seven years building the business back better after the earthquakes," CIAL chief executive Malcolm Johns said.

New Zealand pandemic strategy in doubt amid Delta spread

Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said the variant "changes the game considerably" and makes existing protections "look less adequate".

It comes as the country announced a further 21 confirmed cases in the latest outbreak of the virus.

New Zealand had quashed earlier Covid outbreaks with rapid, strict lockdowns.

The country was praised for its efforts, which effectively stopped the spread of the virus. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has repeatedly referred to New Zealand as "our team of five million".

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Eleven crew members on a ship off the coast of Tauranga test positive

Eleven of the 21 crew on board the Rio De La Plata are confirmed to have the virus.

Public Health staff took the test swabs in Tauranga from the crew as part of the requirements for entry for the vessel to its next stop - Napier.

The Ministry of Health said in a statement that it was likely at least some of the 11 crew were active cases of COVID-19 and further test results, expected today, would help determine how many of the crew were likely to be historical cases and no longer infectious.

NZ sends 100,000 vaccine doses to Fiji

Fiji reported 1100 new cases and 13 more deaths today, bringing to total death toll to 254.

Of the deaths, 252 of them have come from the April outbreak of the Delta variant of Covid-19.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said New Zealand paid for 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine directly from the Spanish government to meet Fiji's immediate vaccine needs. The vaccines were due to arrive today.

"Our thoughts remain with Fiji during this incredibly challenging period," Mahuta said in a statement.

Seasonal worker's body returned to family in Tonga after emotional farewell

Hiko Lynch, 23, was allegedly stabbed in central Blenheim during what police believe was an altercation between a gang from outside the region and three Tongans in the country on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

Stuff.co reports Lynch from his injuries while his two friends were taken to Blenheim’s Wairau Hospital seriously wounded, in the early hours of June 20. Lynch’s body was taken to Christchurch for a post-mortem.

Auckland-based producer Philippa Campbell withdraws from working on movie

The movie, They are Us, will focus on the prime minister's response in the week following the attacks, and is set to star Australian actress Rose Byrne as Jacinda Ardern.

Ardern said in a statement that plenty of stories from 15 March could be told, and she does not consider hers to be one of them.

New Zealand's Muslim community has come out against the film, saying the focus on the prime minister, rather than the victims, is wrong, and it is just Hollywood profiting off the community's pain.