New Zealand

WHO announces independent panel to review Covid-19 response, warns that pandemic is accelerating,
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the 74th UNGA
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the 74th UNGA Credit: Office of USAID Administrator (Public Domain)

World Health Organization Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced that the WHO has launched the "Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response" to review the agency's and governments' response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The panel will be headed by Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former president of Liberia.

"Through you, the world will understand the truth of what happened and also the solutions to build our future better as one humanity," so Ghebreyesus. He further warned that the Covid-19 pandemic is not under control but instead is "still accelerating" and that "total number of cases has doubled in the last six weeks."

Science • Space
Rocket Lab 13th launch fails after second stage malfunction
Rocket Lab - Pics Or It Didn't Happen Launch
Rocket Lab - Pics Or It Didn't Happen Launch Credit: YouTube (Reproduction)

The Rocket Lab's mission ‘Pics or It Didn’t Happen’ failed after the second stage of the Electron rocket carrying seven satellites malfunctioned after launch from New Zealand on Saturday, suddenly slowing down and losing altitude. Rocket Lab confirmed the vehicle and its payloads were lost, but no official indication of what went wrong was immediately available.

CEO Peter Beck tweeted after the failure: "We lost the flight late into the mission. I am incredibly sorry that we failed to deliver our customers satellites today. Rest assured we will find the issue, correct it and be back on the pad soon."

Science • Space
Rocket Lab to launch a seven-satellites rideshare mission Saturday
Electron Rocket
Electron Rocket Credit: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab to launch a rideshare mission Saturday using its Electron rocket. The launch, which is named ‘Pics or It Didn’t Happen’, is scheduled to happen between 21:19 - 22:03 (UTC) from the company's New Zealand spaceport.

The mission is Rocket Lab’s third flight this year, and it includes seven small satellites from several different companies.

Politics • Oceanian
Resignation of NZ's Health Minister David Clark
Resignation of NZ's Health Minister David Clark
(Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

New Zealand Health Minister David Clark has resigned, saying it has become “increasingly clear to me that my continuation in the role is distracting from the government’s overall response to Covid-19.” Clark had been previously seen breaching lockdown measures.

“David has come to the conclusion his presence in the role is creating an unhelpful distraction from the Government’s ongoing response to Covid-19 and wider health reforms,” Jacinda Ardern responded to his resignation. “It’s essential our health leadership has the confidence of the New Zealand public. As David has said to me the needs of the team must come before him as an individual.”

Politics • American • South America
Uruguay is the only Latin American country in EU's Covid-19 'safe list'
Munich International Airport passport control
Munich International Airport passport control Credit: Vasyatka1 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The European Union has named 14 countries whose citizens are deemed "safe" to be let in from July 1, and the only Latin American country is Uruguay.

As infection rates in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia are still high, their nationals will face travel restrictions.

The current list is formed by Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Sports • Soccer
Australia and New Zealand to host FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023
Australia playing in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023
Australia playing in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 Credit: Liondartois (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will be held in Australia and New Zealand, with 32 teams. The decision was announced on Thursday after a vote taken by the FIFA Council during its meeting held via online conference.

The joint bid from Australia and New Zealand had 22 votes against 13 votes to the submission from Colombia.

Technology • Internet & Web
New Zealand Police have frozen $90m from Russian IT expert

New Zealand Police has frozen $90 million from a New Zealand based company belonging to Alexander Vinnik who had been arrested in July 2017 while on a family vacation in Greece. The Russian IT expert has an open extradition warrant from the United States and France where the authorities accuse him of money laundering, identity theft, drug trafficking and computer hacking. The authorities also accuse him that he has operated BTC-e, a cryptocurrency exchange that allegedly enabled money-laundering. The Greek legal team of Vinnik denies that he ran the exchange and says he was an employee.

Politics • Oceanian
New Zealand reports two new Covid-19 cases after being 24 days without new case
Visualisation of the Covid-19 virus
Visualisation of the Covid-19 virus Credit: Fusion Medical Animation

The ministry of health has released a statement that two new Covid-19 cases have been imported from the United Kingdom. Dr Siouxsie Wiles from the University of Auckland who specializes in infectious diseases has stated that "That's why we all still need to be really conscious that if you have a sniffle or anything that we still go and get tested, just in case there has been some transmission from someone who's come into the country". The transmission follows after New Zealand had been 28 days without a new community transmission and 24 days since a new recorded case.

Science • Space
Rocket Lab carries payload for NASA and NRO into orbit
Rocket Lap - Electron Rocket Launch
Rocket Lap - Electron Rocket Launch Credit: Screenshot Rocket Lab YouTube

The spacetravel company Rocket Lab has successfully resumed its operations and carried a payload for NASA, the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office and the University of New South Wales Canberra into orbit. Being pushed back due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Electron rocket has been successfully launched from the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.

Science • Animals
Turmoil due to feral chickens in Auckland suburb
Turmoil due to feral chickens in Auckland suburb
Credit: Moreland

In what locals described as "something out of a Stephen King movie", feral chickens have invaded and disturbed peaceful Auckland suburb Titirangi, leaving the neighbourhood "wrecked". In 2019, the number of feral chickens in Titirangi had grown to 250 but most of them were captured and relocated to nearby farms. Amid the lockdown, the birds have returned and are once again disrupting the residents' sleep and damaging the area.

Politics • Oceanian
New Zealand is Covid-19-Free, moving to Alert Level 1
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern  at the InterContinental New York Barclay in New York City, September 23, 2019
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the InterContinental New York Barclay in New York City, September 23, 2019 Credit: The White House from Washington, DC / Public domain

New Zealand reports its last active Covid-19 case has recovered, marking the country's 17th day in a row without infections. In Monday's cabinet meeting, the move to Alert Level 1 was discussed and later announced publicly by PM Jacinda Ardern. She urges to stay vigilant and that "with over 100,000 new cases being reported each day, the challenge of COVID remains around the globe and so it remains here."

Politics • Oceanian
PM Scott Morrison calls for reopening interstate borders by July

Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison is urging Western Australia and Queensland to allow travellers to cross interstate borders by July as he's “very keen to see Australia’s economy continue to reopen on the timetable for interstate travel”. Australia has seen a decline in Covid-19 cases but premiers of Queensland, South and Western Australia are not yet willing to reopen their borders for interstate travel. Morrison warns of the economic impact, especially on the tourism industry. “If I get planes flying between Australia and New Zealand, I want them flying between New South Wales and Queensland and Western Australia and South Australia”, said Morrison.

Politics • Oceanian
Zero Covid-19 Cases in New Zealand for 14 Consecutive Days
Mount Victoria, New Zealand
Mount Victoria, New Zealand Credit: Drew

There have been no new reported cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand for two weeks in a row, with the last known infected person leaving quarantine on 15 June. Scientists are optimistic to declare the elimination of the virus by next week, if no new cases occur.

Science • Space
2020 Strawberry Moon lunar eclipse occurs today
Full moon, so called "Strawberry moon" viewed  from Tochigi prefecture, eastern Japan.
Full moon, so called "Strawberry moon" viewed from Tochigi prefecture, eastern Japan. Credit: On-chan (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Today's lunar eclipse that begins at 17:45(UTC) and lasts until 21:04(UTC) will be a "penumbral eclipse," which occurs when the outer ring of Earth's shadow just grazes the moon.

This subtle lunar eclipse will be entirely visible for observers in eastern Africa, the Middle East, southern Asia and Australia. It will start at moonrise for those on the eastern coast of South America, western Africa and Europe, and at moonset for skywatchers in Japan and New Zealand.

The full moon in June is called a Strawberry Moon because it coincides with the strawberry harvest. In Europe, an old name for this full Moon is the Mead Moon or the Honey Moon.

Politics • Oceanian
George Floyd Solidarity Marches across New Zealand
George Floyd Solidarity Marches across New Zealand
Credit: Weaver

Thousands of people across New Zealand have joined Americans to protest the killing of George Floyd. In Auckland and Christchurch, protestors have gathered for the Black Lives Matter March for Solidarity while a vigil is being held in Wellington. Among the organisers is 20-year old student Joanna Li, who told the NZ Herald: "It's needed, if you think it's not needed, you're not paying attention."

Politics • Oceanian
Found: Missing New Zealand walkers rescued after 19 days
Kahurangi National Park on the South Island of New Zealand
Kahurangi National Park on the South Island of New Zealand Credit: W. Bulach / CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Jessica O-Connor and Dion Reynolds were found in the New Zealand wilderness after 19 days. The two 23-year-olds got lost in Kahurangi National Park and sustained injuries in a fall. They found a water source and were able to make a fire, which was then seen by a search helicopter.

Politics • Oceanian
New Zealand reports zero Covid-19 hospitalisations
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Credit:

New Zealand's newest Covid-19 update reports zero Covid-19 hospitalisations and no new positive cases in the past five days. Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General of Health, reported the release of the last hospitalised patient today. The number of people infected with the novel Coronavirus is down to 21.

Politics • Oceanian
Poll reveals: Jacinda Ardern most popular PM in a century

A public poll conducted between May 8 and May 16 by Newshub-Reid Research shows the Labour Party, led by Jacinda Ardern, climbing 14 points to 56.5%. Arden's popularity rose to 59.5%, with 92% respondents stating the party's Covid-19 response was "the right call". Arden said it was a “privileged opportunity to be leading at this time”.

Business • Economy
New Zealand’s Finance Minister Announces Plan to Reduce Unemployment Numbers
NZ Finance Minister Grant Robertson in Wellington, New Zealand
NZ Finance Minister Grant Robertson in Wellington, New Zealand Credit: David Tong / CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Grant Robertson, New Zealand’s finance minister, announced a NZ$50 billion dollar plan to reduce unemployment numbers and save around 140,000 jobs within a two-year period. Robertson called the fund “the most significant financial commitment in modern history”. Of the budget, $3 billion are planned for government’s wage subsidy, $1.6 billion for apprenticeships training and trades, $3 billion for infrastructure including job creation and $400 million for supporting the tourism industry.

Politics • Oceanian
Controversial New Zealand Level 2 Enforcement Law Under Review

As New Zealand sees easing of movement restrictions, a controversial law that allows police to enter homes without a search warrant to enforce restriction rules is being heavily criticised. Parliament has voted to send the law to a selected committee for a post-enactment review. Both Act and The National Party called the bill "an overreach of powers".