New Zealand Parliament Buildings, Wellington, New Zealand.
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Editor’s Note: Here below is a list of the main issues currently under discussion in New Zealand and links to media coverage. You can sign up to NZ Politics Daily as well as New Zealand Political Roundup columns for free here.

Today’s content

Covid, MIQ, border
Will Trafford (Māori TV): Secret state report reveals swamped ICUs; Omicron will evade face masks
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Callous MIQ Tweet sets Government back after victorious summer (paywalled)
Ben Thomas (Stuff): Whodunit? Mystery border call a clue to new normal
Luke Malpass (Stuff): The only certainty is uncertainty: Labour enters year three of pandemic politics
Jason Walls (Newstalk ZB): We need an Omicron plan now – not in ‘the coming weeks’
Jamie Morton (Herald): Explained: Why the timing of Omicron’s arrival matters
Ellen O’Dwyer (Stuff): Govt’s decision limiting access to MIQ in March and April will have ‘no effect’ on Omicron – epidemiologist
Zoe Holland (Herald): Experts praise Government’s decision on MIQ but say more action is needed
RNZ: Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins defends MIQ hold announcement
1 News: Pausing MIQ room release a ‘temporary position’ – Hipkins
Zane Small (Newshub): Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins cites Omicron as justification for postponing MIQ room release
Henry Cooke (Stuff): Chris Hipkins talks to media before Cabinet meets on Omicron, MIQ
BusinessDesk: Hipkins in damage control over MIQ halt (paywalled)
Tess McClure (Guardian): New Zealand closes borders to new arrivals over ‘unprecedented’ Omicron risk
Alexa Cook (Newshub): Kiwi mourning dad’s death while stuck in UK says MIQ room lottery postponement hit her hard
John Weekes (Herald): Covid 19 MIQ halt: Seymour says Omicron leak inevitable, Govt asleep at wheel
Sam Olley (RNZ): Northland’s traffic light setting future to be revealed after Cabinet makes Covid-19 settings decision
1 News: Ardern to announce any changes to traffic light settings
Bryan Betty (Stuff): Omicron is a real danger, but it could also put brakes on the pandemic
Julia Gabel (Herald): What past pandemics like the 1918 ‘Spanish flu’ teach NZ about being prepared
Rachel Moore (Stuff): Calm before the storm? Waikato beating down Delta, with zero-Covid-case days and a steady decrease in active cases
Zane Small (Newshub): Response Minister Chris Hipkins stands by date for trans-Tasman Kiwis to skip MIQ but admits ‘everything can change’
Anna Whyte (1 News): NZ will still move to a self-isolation model – Chris Hipkins
Ellen O’Dwyer (Stuff): Self-isolation model still on the cards, but no exact dates for border reopening given
Josephine Franks (Stuff): Give MIQ guests N95 masks to keep Omicron out, expert urges
Naomi Seah (Spinoff): Mask exemption loophole puts retail workers at risk
RNZ: MIQ system High Court challenge delayed
Chris Keall (Herald): Omicron outbreak: MIQ rule-dodging family: Customs confirms one point, other agencies scrambling (paywalled)
Chris Keall (Herald): Father fronts, explains how his voucher-less family managed to gatecrash way into NZ
Tudor Clee (Kiwiblog): Guest Post: Are Kiwis too scared to come home? The border is wide open.

Cases
Claire Trevett (Herald): Omicron: Two more cases confirmed, one visited Auckland cafe on Tuesday
Melanie Earley (Stuff): Auckland Airport worker, household contact of MIQ worker have Omicron variant
RNZ: Auckland Airport worker confirmed as Omicron case
Melanie Earley (Stuff): Auckland Airport worker tests positive, being managed as Omicron case
1 News: MIQ Omicron case linked to returning traveller
Hannah Martin (Stuff): 56 new border cases, 24 in community, Auckland Airport worker tests positive
RNZ: Covid-19 update on 19 January: 24 new community cases, 56 in MIQ
Maryana Garcia (Herald): How many of the cases and those hospitalised in Lakes District Health Board were unvaccinated? (paywalled)

Parliament, parties
Claire Trevett (Herald): PM Jacinda Ardern to set out priorities of year to MPs at Labour caucus retreat
Maiki Sherman (1 News): Labour’s Māori caucus meets ahead of party’s 2022 gathering
Michael Neilson (Herald): Māori Party’s Debbie Ngarewa-Packer on confronting white supremacists, vaccinating gang members, surfing and Beyonce (paywalled)
Stephen Ward (Stuff): Te reo skills on the list for National’s Christopher Luxon in busy 2022
Arena Williams and Stuart Smith (Stuff): We are at a critical cross-road as we start to emerge out of the global pandemic

Vaccine rollout, mandate, testing
Hannah Martin and Kate Newton (Stuff): How NZ’s booster roll-out is tracking with Omicron on the doorstep
RNZ: Over 1000 eligible MIQ workers yet to get Covid-19 vaccine booster dose
Stephen Forbes (Local Democracy Reporting): Whānau Ora plans to take govt back to court over Māori data for under 12s
ODT: Council has paid $20K for vax pass security
Marena Mane (Māori TV): No mandate or restrictions for child vaccinations – Dr Ashley Bloomfield
Whatitiri Te Wake (Māori TV): Mātihetihe School prioritising reputable info on tamariki vaccine for whānau
Peter McIntyre & Nikki Turner (Herald): Benefits of Covid 19 vaccine greatly exceeds risks at all ages
Amanda Vickers (Herald): Data indicates Covid risk versus jab in Rory Nairn’s demographic over-stated

Anti-vaccination, protests, rule breaches
Tony Wall and Cate Broughton (Stuff): Underground network of anti-vax doctors and nurses continues to issue dodgy Covid vaccine exemption letters
Martin van Beynen (Stuff): Destiny Church pastor Derek Tait has a vaccine pass despite his vows
Rachel Sadler (Newshub): Residents near Mt Eden prison accuse Brian Tamaki supporters of blocking streets, revving motorbikes, defecating in bushes
Damien Venuto (Herald): The sad spiral of Liz Gunn down the conspiracy rabbit hole (paywalled)
William Hewett (Newshub): Liz Gunn goes off in furious rant after being asked for evidence of children collapsing at North Shore vaccination centre
Rachel Sadler (Newshub): Anti-vaxxer Brad Flutey tasered, arrested after allegedly refusing to wear mask, acting aggressively in Whangārei

Economy, Business, Employment
Hamish Rutherford (Herald): ANZ warns OCR will hit 3 per cent next year ‘painful as that may be’
Tom Pullar-Strecker (Stuff): ANZ lifts OCR forecast to 3% by April next year while still hedging its bets
Anan Zaki (RNZ): ANZ forecasts Official Cash Rate to be lifted to 3% next year
Sam Stubbs (Stuff): Inflation? What inflation?
Amelia Wade (Newshub): Truckies, retailers want COVID-19 isolation rules changed urgently to prevent staff shortages as Omicron looms
RNZ: Fuel industry consumer spending up, hospitality down in December
RNZ: Survey finds most SMEs concerned by climate change, but 40% without sustainable processes
Herald: Auckland restaurants continue to collapse from Covid-19 pressures
Joy Reid (1 News): Canterbury businesses grappling with crippling labour shortage
Melanie Carroll (Stuff): How enforceable are restraints of trade?
RNZ: Dairy farmers on track for record payout as forecast farmgate milk price tops $9

Housing
Rob Stock (Stuff): Lenders and brokers challenge minister to publish terms of inquiry into lending law disruption
Daniel Dunkley (Stuff): Government’s CCCFA credit crunch is bad for business
Nona Pelletier (RNZ): ‘Incredibly prescriptive’ lending code ruining lives – Mortgage broker
Greg Ninness (Interest): First signs of rain from the dark clouds gathering over the housing market
BusinessDesk: Here come the housing market headwinds (paywalled)
Isaac Davison (Herald): The subtle funding change that has left 1000 Auckland tenants stuck in temporary homes (paywalled)
Anne Gibson (Herald): ‘Bank of mum and dad’ caught by tax trap: National MP decries brightline test catch (paywalled)
Eric Cramptom (Offsetting Behaviour): Building materials
Te Aniwa Hurihanganui (1 News): Demand for ‘affordable, warm’ papakāinga housing soars
Madeleine Chapman (Spinoff): Save for a house deposit with these foolproof tips

Tonga volcanic eruption, tsunami
Lana Andelane (Newshub): How New Zealanders can help Tonga
André Chumko (Stuff): Tonga aid appeals get under way, Kiwis asked to give generously
RNZ: Non-perishables being collected in Auckland for Tonga from Friday
1 News: Mt Smart to be a drop off centre for Tonga care packages
Kim Moodie (RNZ): Aid agencies prepare for Tonga disaster relief
Māori TV: Christchurch mayor says Tonga helped in city’s hour of need, asks locals to pay back the kindness
Kate Lyons and Tess McClure (Guardian): Leaked New Zealand military photos show scale of damage caused by Tonga volcano eruption
RNZ: Hercules expected to leave for Tonga today with water and food – Henare
Thomas Manch (Stuff): Tonga agrees to ‘contactless’ disaster relief amid Covid-19 fears
Lana Andelane (Newshub): Tonga eruption and tsunami: NZ Navy may assist with evacuation of 150 residents on ‘significantly damaged’ outer islands
Barbara Dreaver (1 News): ‘Finally got through’ – Tongans in NZ reconnect with loved ones
RNZ: Repairing Tonga cable no simple process – cable company
RNZ: Progress being made on communications in Tonga: ‘Hold tight, listen to the media’
Eleisha Foon (RNZ): Tongan community welcomes official word from Tonga’s government
RNZ: Relief for Tongan RSE workers

Health
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Pleas mount for Government help, with dental grants not increased in decades
Henry Cooke (Stuff): 2020 saw 20 per cent boost in antidepressant prescriptions, but not people taking them
ODT: Spread of norovirus in hospital hits surgery capacity
George Block (Stuff): St John investigates two ‘heartbreaking’ deaths in Auckland after ambulance delays
Shawn McAvinue (ODT): 24-hour Shear-a-thon to raise money for hospital
Shawn McAvinue (ODT): Shearing pays back those who backed cancer fight

Local government
Bernard Orsman (Herald): New Ports of Auckland CEO Roger Gray’s pay believed to top $1m
Hamish McNeilly (Stuff): Dunedin’s one-way system reboot canned
Grant Miller (ODT): Council and NZTA at odds over one-way
Hamish MacLean (ODT): Dunedin Railways ‘not a museum’
Send Iasona (Newshub): Mayor Andy Foster hits back at critics of $130k Wellington sculpture missing a letter
Georgina Campbell (Herald): Opinion: Wellington’s new sign looks like a $130,000 spelling mistake
RNZ: Putting the ‘I’ in Wellington – the capital’s new interactive sculpture
Erin Gourley (Stuff): There’s no ‘I’ in Well_ngton: new sign on the capital waterfront

Child welfare
ODT Editorial: More time needed for OT Bill
Luke Fitzmaurice (Spinoff): Are we ready to scrap the role of Children’s Commissioner?

Environment, conservation
1 News: Group of high-profile Kiwis fighting new Coromandel mine
Edward O’Driscoll (Newshub): Comedian Guy Williams joins call for PM to keep promise of no new mines on conservation land
Matthew Scott (Newsroom): Moment of truth for Waiheke marine reserve
Wilson Longhurst (1 News): Protect Pūtiki protesters march to Auckland’s High Court
Adam Hollingsworth (Newshub): Battle over sand-dredging off the Pakiri Coast pits old foes against each other
RNZ: Mature lowland forest lost in Wānaka fire – DOC
Ryan Boswell (1 News): Filtration system could hold answer to clean waterways
RNZ: Toxic Algae could pose real risk to humans in future
Samantha Gee (RNZ): Reintroduced bird species establishing populations in Nelson’s Brook Waimārama Sanctuary

Foreign affairs
Sam Sachdeva (Newsroom): NZ ‘must regain’ foreign policy ground in 2022
Robert Ayson (Newsroom):Russian aggression exposes gap in NZ’s diplomatic toolkit
Shane Te Pou (Herald): US democracy is as important to NZ as it has ever been (paywalled)
RNZ: Former Samoa leader needs medical help in NZ – health officials

Media
Duncan Greive (Spinoff): However the Tova O’Brien case plays out, Three has already lost
Edward Gay (Stuff): Tova O’Brien has no option but to bartend if contract clause enforced – lawyer
Herald: Tova O’Brien v Discovery: three-month restraint of trade would force her to ‘sit at home doing nothing’
RNZ: New RNZ National show to focus on Māori talent and stories

Transport
Daniel Smith (Stuff): Thousands of drivers wrongly fined nearly $140k for failing to pay toll road charges on time over Christmas break
Leah Tebbutt (RNZ): Concerns of oil supply disruption as commentators say $3 per litre fuel to become the norm
Brent Melville (BusinessDesk): Transport fail: ‘we weren’t expecting quite so many of you’ (paywalled)

Education
Tom Hunt and Erin Gourley (Stuff): Teachers buying kids’ stationery and togs as parents struggle
Matthew Scott (Newsroom): Border clamps a double-edged sword for schools
Catherine Whitby (The Conversation): Pandemic disruption to PhD research is bad for society and the economy – but there are solutions

Water safety
Jake McKee (RNZ): Government urged to tackle ‘complex’ drowning issues following dozens of deaths in 2021
Māori TV: Māori men over-represented in drowning stats
Ripu Bhatia (Stuff): Māori perspectives could be the key to curbing high drowning rates, expert says
Whatitiri Te Wake (Māori TV): Diving lessons called for to cut back drowning deaths

Other
David Fisher (Herald): 10 years of Megaupload, 10 things we learned (paywalled)
Chris Trotter (Daily Blog): The Totalitarian Impulses Driving “Consequences Culture”
Jo Moir (Newsroom): Covid fades Waitangi’s spotlight on Māori inequities
Pattrick Smellie (BusinessDesk): How the tax department changed everything and no one noticed
Jem Traylen (BusinessDesk): Immigration will be a tricky balancing act (paywalled)
Lana Andelane (Newshub): 501 deportee with history of assault and family violence returns to New Zealand
1 News: Big Gay Out 2022 cancelled due to Omicron threat
RNZ: Auckland’s Big Gay Out pride event cancelled
Emile Donovan (RNZ): Henry Mance: How to Love Animals
RNZ: New Zealanders need to understand the hazards of volcanoes here – EQC
Katie Doyle (RNZ): Calls for universal accessibility design for Auckland public playgrounds
Jessica Tyson (Māori TV): ‘It is pretty incredible’ – Dame Cindy Kiro’s first months as Governor-General
RNZ: Insurance claims for SI storm damage more than double

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