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
Dileepa Fonseka (Stuff): ‘Too little, too late’: Allegations Covid-19 testing regime unprepared for Omicron, still weak on much-needed saliva tests
Hanna McCallum (Stuff): ‘Tens of millions’ of rapid antigen tests on order, PM says
1 News: Rapid Covid tests will be widely available in NZ – Ardern
Claire Trevett (Herald): After a summer, PM Jacinda Ardern’s job was to prepare for a long Omicron winter (paywalled)
Matthew Hooton (Herald): Jacinda Ardern’s Omicron choice horrific but necessary (paywalled)
Ian Powell (Second Opinion): Responding to Omicron
Tess McClure (Guardian): As Omicron rages around the world, Ardern deploys an old tactic – delay
Katie Scotcher (RNZ): NZers urged to prepare for potentially thousands of daily Omicron infections
Herald: Experts react to Government announcement, Omicron concerns
1 News: ‘Omicron is going to be really messy,’ epidemiologist says
Rowan Quinn (RNZ): Auckland hospitals plan for more Covid-19 patients when Omicron arrives
Jean Bell (RNZ): Gisborne Hospital expects up to third of staff may be off work in Omicron outbreak
Jamie Morton (Herald): Explained: Just how protected is New Zealand from Omicron?
Damien Venuto (Herald):  ‘Team of 5m’ and ‘be kind’ – the Government catchphrases have gone stale (paywalled)
Luke Malpass (Stuff): Labour sets scene for Omicron, but what happens next?
Bernard Hickey (The Kākā): Dawn Chorus: The unanswered omicron questions (paywalled)
RNZ: Government ‘scrambling’ over Omicron – National Party leader Christopher Luxon
Amelia Wade (Newshub): Christopher Luxon, David Seymour grill Jacinda Ardern for doing ‘nothing to prepare for Omicron’
Herald: National MP Chris Bishop criticises Government over Wordle tweet
Anna Whyte (1 News): Omicron outbreak would see NZ go to Red in 24-48 hours – PM
Luke Malpass and Thomas Manch (Stuff): Whole country will move to red in event of Omicron community outbreak
Michael Neilson (Herald): 1800 daily cases in just six weeks – grim projection for Auckland outbreak
Stuff:  Omicron ‘knocking on our door’ as Kiwis prepare to enter ‘red’ setting
John Weekes (Herald): Lockdowns ruled out, hopes hinge on locking strain out as long as possible
Mike Houlahan (ODT): Be prepared for Red light
Herald: What would life in red look like as an Omicron outbreak looms?
Stuff:  What life will look like under red traffic light setting after Omicron gets in
RNZ: PM Jacinda Ardern announces changes to traffic light system, provides Omicron update
1 News: Ardern: Modelling for Omicron outbreak ‘highly variable’
Anna Whyte (1 News): Ardern optimistic NZ won’t ‘have to use widespread lockdowns
Zane Small (Newshub): Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern rules out COVID-19 lockdown in event of Omicron outbreak
Pattrick Smellie (BusinessDesk): Omicron: no national lockdowns, elimination ‘nigh on impossible’ – Ardern
Katie Scotcher (RNZ): Omicron will be a ‘different’ foe, PM Jacinda Ardern warn
Zane Small (Newshub): South Australia: The Omicron-infected state Ardern is taking COVID-19 tips from
Mildred Armah (Stuff): ‘Unprecedented’ demand for masks as NZ prepares for Omicron
Steven Cowan (Against the current): Survival of the wealthiest

MIQ, border
Ian Taylor (ODT): Got to try better way to deal with this
Hannah Martin (Stuff): More border cases than in the community for first time since August
Hazel Osborne (Herald): Double blow: Grounded Kiwis’ court hearing delayed on same day room release suspended
John Weekes (Herald): Govt defends 249 Dubai Expo places but may trim future MIQ group slots
Chris Keall (Herald): Father explains how his voucher-less family gatecrashed way into NZ (paywalled)
Sophie Trigger (Herald): Family of five faces 25 days in MIQ, enthusiasm for New Zealand ‘tempered’

Northland moves from Red to Orange
Anneke Smith (RNZ): Mixed reactions over Northland moving to ‘orange’ traffic light
Imran Ali (Herald): Northland’s move into orange welcomed – for consistency sake
RNZ: Te Tai Tokerau Border Control critical of government decision to move Northland to orange
Heta Gardiner (Māori TV): Political commentator says Māori experts won’t be on board with Northland traffic light setting change
1 News: Northland to join rest of NZ at Orange tonight

Cases
1 News: 15 locations of interest for ‘possible’ Manawatū Omicron case
Sinead Gill (Stuff): Everything we know about the suspected Omicron case in Palmerston North 
Kate Green and André Chumko (Stuff): Five negative tests, and then a positive: Suspected new Omicron case sparks questions about origin of infection
1 News: 39 new Covid-19 community cases in NZ today
RNZ: Two new Covid-19 cases found in Hawke’s Bay
Rachel Sadler (Newshub): Number of unvaccinated hospitalised patients with COVID-19 in New Zealand revealed
Kelly Makiha (Herald): Three Rotorua transitional housing motels in lockdown following Covid outbreak (paywalled)
Debbie Jamieson (Stuff): Queenstown ‘dodged bullets’ after visit from Covid-positive travellers

Vaccine rollout, mandate, testing
Geraden Cann (Stuff): Far fewer workers fired for not complying with vaccine mandate than feared
Sandra Conchie (Herald): Unvaccinated Bay police and firefighters stood down from frontline duties (paywalled)
Hannah Martin and Sophie Harris (Stuff): Only about half of all NZ vax sites currently vaccinating kids
Stephen Forbes (RNZ): Govt cites privacy concerns over call to release Māori child vax data
Māori TV: Back to court; Whānau Ora boss wants Tamariki Māori vaccine data
Moana Ellis (Local Democracy Reporting): Covid-19 analyst calls for Māori and Pasifika priority in under-12s vaccinations
RNZ: First West Coast vaccine clinic for tamariki Māori

Anti-vaccination, protests, rule breaches
Tony Wall (Stuff): GP who gave Covid vaccine exemption letter to an undercover reporter under investigation, nurse has practising certificate suspended
Herald: Destiny Church protest: Brian Tamaki supporters barricade Mt Eden Prison entrance
Jake Kenny (Stuff): Kaikōura cafe owner who showed fake QR code linking to anti-mandate page prosecuted by WorkSafe
Rachel Sadler (Newshub): Advertising Standards Authority upholds complaint against Hamilton car dealership’s ‘misleading’ COVID-19 post
David Clarkson (Herald): Judge slams unvaccinated unemployed man in court

Economy, Business, Employment
Brian Fallow (Herald):  Why worry about the economy? Let me count the reasons (paywalled)
Rob Stock (Stuff): Scandal of the least competitive insurance and loan market
RNZ: Job ads ‘well above’ pre-pandemic levels but workers uncertain about future earnings
Melanie Carroll (Stuff): Employees a bit more confident but wage rise hopes on backburner: Westpac
Melanie Carroll (Stuff): NZ jobseekers’ ‘remarkable’ run set to continue with borders shut; Trade Me
RNZ: Heavy freight activity points to economic bounce back – ANZ
1 News: Annual rise in food prices biggest since 2011 – Stats NZ
RNZ: Tomatoes twice as expensive as a year ago, grocery items up 4.5 percent
Rahul Bhattarai (Herald): Annual food prices leap 4.5% – highest rise in a decade
Stuff Editorial: What’s red and squishy and twice as pricey?
—————
Rahul Bhattarai (Herald): Businesses say they want more financial support should NZ move to Red
Tina Morrison and Debbie Jamieson (Stuff): Business concerned about potential rapid spread of Omicron
Tina Morrison (Stuff): Supermarkets ask customers not to panic buy in preparation for an Omicron outbreak 
Vicki Anderson and Steven Walton (Stuff): Major events in jeopardy – a move to red would be ‘devastating’ for industry
Chloe Blommerde (Stuff): Hamilton’s nightclubs to close if Omicron puts the country in red
RNZ: Auckland’s Rainbow Parade cancelled due to Omicron risk
Melanie Earley (Stuff): Auckland Rainbow Pride Parade cancelled due to Omicron fears
1 News: Bluff Oyster Festival cancelled for 2022 over Covid concerns
Luisa Girao (ODT): Oyster and Food Festival loss big blow to tourism
ODT: Maniototo A&P show just stadium events

Parliament, parties
Luke Malpass (Stuff): Jacinda Ardern urges Labour caucus to stay humble ahead of Omicron update
Richard Harman (Politik): Robertson brings the state back (paywalled)
Jane Matthews (Stuff): First Labour Party caucus of the year takes PM back to her roots 
Cherie Sivignon (Stuff): We’ll find a great Nelson candidate: National leader Christopher Luxon
Michael Neilson (Herald): First-term Labour MP Barbara Edmonds on summer plans and swatting away National Party recruit attempts (paywalled)
Herald: Which wedding dress will Jacinda Ardern say yes to for her big day?

Housing
ODT Editorial: Credit law change backfires
Herald Editorial: Lending an ear to warnings could have spared red faces (paywalled)
Paul McBeth (BusinessDesk): Jumping the loan shark (paywalled)
Riley Kennedy (ODT): Pregnancy hidden for mortgage
Geraden Cann (Stuff): Homes.co.nz criticised for allowing estate agents to influence price estimates
Miriam Bell (Stuff): Rents still rising as supply pressures remain
Bernt Melville (BusinessDesk): NZ’s largest mortgage lender predicts 7% house-price drop (paywalled)
Marena Mane (Māori TV): Ten new homes for Ngāti Whātua’s most treasured taonga

Tonga volcanic eruption, tsunami
Thomas Manch (Stuff): Chinese debt a concern in Tonga’s post-eruption rebuild 
1 News: NZ aid arrives in Tonga after ‘mammoth’ effort to clear runway
RNZ: Defence Force Commander of Joint Forces Jim Gilmour speaks on Tonga relief operation
RNZ: Safety at Tonga port being checked for arrival of more humanitarian supplies
RNZ: Third navy ship to depart for Tonga, first relief supplies to arrive today
1 News: NZ Hercules aircraft sets off for Tonga with aid supplies
RNZ: First international relief flight enroute to Tonga
RNZ: Collection for Tonga underway today in Auckland
Gordon Campbell (Werewolf): On responding to the need in Tonga

Health
RNZ: New research fund to focus on inequity in lung cancer treatment, diagnosis
RNZ: National calls for better mental health services for Asians
Matthew Hampson (Stuff): NZ needs to invest in small hospitals – Luxon
1 News: Medicinal cannabis costs in NZ could drop after new deal
Male Hart (Local Democracy Reporting): Woman waiting months for cataract surgery in constant pain

Local government
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): She’s running, he’s running
Steven Walton (Stuff): Councils spending thousands on extra security since vaccine passes introduced
RNZ: Mayor sidesteps ‘what if’ scenario during Zoom meeting on ferry terminal loan
Rachael Kelly (Stuff):Hicks to stand for Gore district mayor for a seventh term

Environment, conservation
Gary Taylor (Herald):  Five big environmental reforms this year (paywalled)
Tom Kitchin (RNZ): NIWA predicts drought for top and bottom of the country
Rebecca Ryan (ODT): Algae’s presence prompts river warning
Eric Roy (Stuff): Audit solutions won’t work against climate change – look to the practical

Transport
Todd Niall (Stuff): Auckland and Wellington just middling in global public transport affordability
Georgina Campbell (Herald): Transmission Gully: New year, but still no opening date
Joel MacManus (Stuff): Transmission Gully: Stormwater system behind ongoing delays in motorway opening 
Olivia Wannan (Stuff): Government ‘spare’ cash from scrapped Auckland harbour cycleway could fund councils’ wishlists
Erin Gourley (Stuff): $570,000 Wellington roundabout already damaged, two months after opening
Dave Cliff (ODT): Lives worth more than trip times
Georgina Campbell (Herald): Interislander ferry ‘catastrophically’ damaged, briefings reveal
Oscar Francis (ODT): No risk of 5G affecting NZ aircraft
RNZ: Calls for better communication after near-miss incident on rail line in Hamilton
Nile Bijoux (Stuff): Suzuki NZ to stay but warns of big Clean Car price hikes

Education
RNZ: NCEA 2021 results have been released, significantly lower attendance at exams
Dubby Henry (Stuff): Chris Hipkins says NCEA results ‘encouraging’, in line with previous years
Emma Clark-Dow (Stuff): Almost half of students in Covid-hit areas didn’t do end-of-year exams
Lee Kenny (Stuff): Former Christchurch head boy says students outside Auckland should have had more help during NCEA exams
Wyatt Ryder (ODT): Home-schooling surges 40% since pandemic
Tamati Tiananga (Māori TV): All Māori students can achieve if Maōri-focused methods used
Jessica Tyson (Māori TV): Sir Toby Curtis: ‘Pākeha schools are hopeless and cannot educate our kids’
Eric Trump (ODT): Uni accepts 103 redundancies
Māori TV: Mātauranga Māori to feature in architecture studies in Wellington
Eda Tang (Stuff): Changes promised after questions asked about ‘frustrating’ StudyLink disability allowance application process

Foreign affairs
Chris Trotter (Daily Blog): Too Much Intellectual Curiosity – Not Enough Fox News.
RNZ: Samoa Cabinet approves medical transfer of former PM to New Zealand

Media
Stuff:  Carol Hirschfeld to be executive producer of Mediaworks’ new Tova O’Brien radio show
Nikki Mandow (Newsroom): Tova O’Brien: A reluctant public face to restraint-of-trade debate
Malcolm Evans (Daily Blog): Free Speech

Other
Irra Lee (1 News): New data shows drop in benefit numbers
Chris Trotter (Bowalley Road): The Political Logic of Martyrdom
Zane Small (Newshub): Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick’s ‘huge disappointment’ after police confirm revival of aerial cannabis blitzes
Chris Fowlie (Daily Blog): How to tip off Green Fairies against cop choppers
Cira Olivier (Herald): Bay of Plenty family harm reports rise, fears domestic violence becoming ‘more blatent’ (paywalled)
Kristin Hall (1 News): Rescuers shocked ‘severely neglected’ dog given back to owners by SPCA
Rosemary McLeod (Stuff): From Boris Johnson to Russell McVeagh, it’s all just privilege in action
James Perry (Māori TV): Whānau Power aims to help power poverty and whānau wellbeing
Jessica Tyson (Māori TV): ‘We were called the Nazis of te reo Māori’ –  Sir Pou Temara pays a price for excellence

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