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

Omicron outbreak
Rowan Quinn (RNZ): Up to half of NZ population could become infected with Omicron – modeller
Ellen O’Dwyer (Stuff): Potentially dozens of undetected Omicron cases, modeller says
Keith Lynch (Stuff): Omicron is here. This is what happens next
Pattrick Smellie (BusinessDesk): Omicron arrives – we’re all over it already (paywalled)
Siouxsie Wiles (Spinoff): Reducing risk with omicron in the community
Herald: Omicron outbreak: Experts react to new variant in community, red light setting
Science Media Centre: NZ moves to Red as Omicron cases spread – Expert Reaction
Dileepa Fonseka (Stuff): Call for clarity around rapid antigen testing strategy
Sharnae Hope (Stuff): Do-it-yourself Covid tests seized at the border, personal-use imports ‘prohibited’
Eric Crampton (Stuff): NZ’s failure to prepare for Omicron means there’s a shambles to come
Jo Moir (Newsroom): A big culture shock is coming New Zealand’s way
Matthew Hooton (Patreon): Covid strategy now “stuck in the middle” (paywalled)
Luke Malpass (Stuff): Omicron is here – minimising health and supply shocks top of agenda
Jon Johansson (Stuff): As we enter year three of the pandemic, we need to move past our Covid-myopia
ODT Editorial: Batten down the hatches, Omicron is coming
Alison Mau (Stuff): Ready for Omicron? The little details show we’re probably not
RNZ: Mask advice under review as Omicron community transmission confirmed

Govt Omicron strategy, NZ moves to red traffic light setting
Adam Pearse (Newshub): Hunt for Omicron continues as New Zealand turns red
Adam Pearse (Herald): New protocols could see households isolating for up to 24 days
Henry Cooke (Stuff): Government plans three stages for Omicron outbreak, won’t commit to free masks
1 News: Ardern outlines ‘phased approach’ to Omicron strategy
Mike Houlahan (ODT): Spread of virus spurs Red call
RNZ: Watch – Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield hold Covid-19 briefing on Omicron
Anna Whyte (1 News): NZ to move to Red at 11.59pm tonight, Nelson-Tasman cases confirmed as Omicron
1 News: Red traffic light setting to protect vulnerable Kiwis – PM
1 News: What you can do under the Red traffic light setting
Lorna Thornber (Stuff): Travel under the red light setting
1 News: Covid rules could see household contacts of positive case isolate for 24 days

Govt Omicron strategy – pre-announcement
Marc Daalder (Newsroom): Long read: How to prepare for Omicron
Andrea Vance (Stuff): How is it that we are not prepared? Again.
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): We need a full toolbox for Omicron
Jean Bell (RNZ): Government ‘dropped the ball’ on rapid antigen test access, GP says
Craig McCulloch (RNZ): Siouxsie Wiles ‘really worried’ about government’s Omicron plan
Steven Cowan (Against the Current): Letting Omicron rip
RNZ: MIQ’s purpose would change with Omicron spread – Baker
Pattrick Smellie (BusinessDesk): Omicron outbreak likely within 10 days: Baker (paywalled)
Fran O’Sullivan (Herald): Govt needs to do as outbreak looms (paywalled)
Glen McConnell (Stuff): Speaker Trevor Mallard urges people to ‘stock up’ ahead of Omicron outbreak
Zane Small (Newshub): Māori Party’s Rawiri Waititi swipes at Speaker Trevor Mallard for ‘encouraging people to panic buy’ in Twitter rift
Jody O’Callaghan (Stuff): While some ‘panic buy’ ahead of Omicron, what happens to families on the poverty line?
Jo Moir (Newsroom): PM’s communication degree needed now more than ever
Glenn McConnell (Stuff): Māori leaders say Government is not prepared for Omicron
RNZ: Rangitīkei Māori leader urges rural people to prepare now for Omicron
RNZ: Auckland City Mission Omicron plans in place

Parties respond to Govt strategy
John Weekes (Herald): Booster urgency, free face mask calls as political rivals digest red light move
Amelia Wade (Newshub): Government’s three-phase Omicron plan ‘highly confusing for New Zealanders’ – Opposition
Glen McConnell (Stuff): ‘We’re not prepared’: National’s Christopher Luxon says more boosters, rapid tests needed for Omicron surge
John Weekes (Herald): National’s Chris Luxon says Government dozed in summer as Omicron set its sights on NZ
RNZ: Government not prepared for Omicron – Luxon
Scott Palmer (Newshub): Opposition accuses Government of being unprepared for Omicron as New Zealand heads into red traffic light setting
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): National vs Labour: When Omicron comes around
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Zane Small (Newshub): Christopher Luxon unsure if shifting to ‘red’ is right move due to ‘very confusing’ traffic light criteria
Christopher Luxon (Stuff): We need an urgent Omicron plan

Health system braces
Emma Russell (Herald): Doctors’ union urges Govt to declare health workforce emergency
Ellen O’Dwyer (Stuff): ‘Stay at home and look after yourselves’: GPs urge preparation ahead of Omicron wave
Justin Latif (Local Democracy Reporting): Auckland district health boards brace for 1800 Omicron cases a day
RNZ: Health workers prepare to support Omicron cases remotely
Ben Leahy (Herald): New variant threatens to leave more Kiwis exposed to long Covid
Rachel Thomas (Stuff): New Zealand’s Covid drugs explained

Vulnerable populations
Te Aniwa Hurihanganui (1 News): Fear Māori will suffer most from Omicron outbreak
Māori TV: ‘Learn from previous mistakes, prioritise Māori and Pacific’ – Dr Elizabeth Kerekere
Māori TV: ‘Omicron has entered our whare’
Maxine Jacobs (Stuff): The mahi of the many: Two years of protecting whakapapa from Covid-19

Cases, locations of interest
RNZ: Stood down Air NZ workers showing Covid-19 symptoms – CEO Greg Foran
Bernadette Basagre and James Halpin (Stuff): What we know about the Omicron cases and their movements in Auckland
Adam Pearse (Herald): ‘It’s no one’s fault’ – Omicron-linked wedding venue manager calls for support
James Halpin and Sapeer Mayron (Stuff): Wedding venue linked to Omicron outbreak ‘shocked’ to hear of exposure
RNZ: ‘We have prepared’ for Omicron in the community – Nelson mayor Rachel Reese
Herald: What we know about Motueka cases
RNZ: Locations of interest linked to Omicron cases released
1 News: Auckland’s Sky Tower, Motueka supermarkets visited by Omicron cases
Anna Whyte (1 News): Nelson-Tasman Omicron cases attended Auckland wedding before positive tests
Cherie Sivignon and Frances Chin (Stuff): Nelson-Tasman cases confirmed as Omicron variant
1 News: Auckland rest home worker with Covid is Omicron contact
RNZ: Several ways Omicron case may have caught virus – health expert

Border, MIQ
Keith Lynch (Stuff): Chris Hipkins says ‘significant’ border changes are possible in first half of this year
Hannah Martin (Stuff): One third of border cases over one week were unvaccinated
Chris Keall (Herald): Did MIQ voucher-less family have right to enter NZ? Expert’s verdict (paywalled)
Cherie Sivignon (Herald): Delta Omicron variant: Twenty-two months of MIQ border hardship (paywalled)
John Anthony (Stuff): Overseas travel costs expected to soar as Covid-19 pandemic changes the game
Janet Wilson (Stuff): Othering those Kiwis outside our border only sows division

Economy, Business, Employment
Jamie Morton (Herald): Why Siouxsie Wiles won’t be going to bars or restaurants
Qiuyi Tan (Herald): Hospitality NZ rejects high-risk claims, says venues are safe
Rob Stock (Stuff): City centres will be ‘ghost towns’ again under red setting, hospo boss says
RNZ: Supply-chain disruption ‘inevitable’, but work is underway to reduce impact – Finance Minister
Ian Llewellyn (BusinessDesk): Be prepared – supply chain disruption inevitable: govt (paywalled)
Rachel Sadler (Newshub): Grant Robertson announces financial support for businesses affected by COVID cases, isolation requirements
1 News: ‘Absolutely no need’ for panic buying – Grant Robertson
Chris Keall (Herald): Omicron shift to Red: Business leaders frustrated as Robertson offers no new support (paywalled)
BusinessDesk: Seeing red: the govt’s omicron advice to business
Laura Hooper (Stuff): Businesses warned to prepare for staff shortages as nation goes to red
Kevin Norquay (Stuff): New Zealand economy winning Covid battle, only for a new threat to emerge
John Anthony (Stuff): Omicron outbreak won’t trigger more Government support for businesses, but that could change, finance minister say
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Rod Oram (Newsroom): Wise business leaders invest in society, not short-term financial returns
Trish Oakley (ODT): Climate dividend needs to be delivered alongside economic
Jamie Gray (Herald): The inflation dragon awakens? NZ CPI heads to its highest level in 30 years (paywalled)
Steven Joyce (Herald): After the sunshine comes the economic storm (paywalled)
Toby Allen (Interest): Bankruptcy rates low despite pandemic, with kiwi’s dodging them in a way they weren’t able to during the GFC
RNZ: Manfacturing sector expands after Covid-related contraction – data
RNZ: Watties struggling to find enough workers for upcoming harvest
Philip Chandler (Mountain Scene): Hospitality hit by chronic staff shortages
Tess Brunton (RNZ): How summer shaped up for South Island tourism hot spots
Rob Stock (Stuff): Contract clauses like Tova O’Brien’s hurting low-wage workers, says MP calling for ban

Cancellations
Tess McClure (Guardian): Jacinda Ardern cancels wedding as New Zealand prepares for Omicron surge
Piers Fuller (Stuff): Jacinda Ardern puts her wedding on hold as NZ moves into red traffic light setting
Herald: PM Jacinda Ardern calls off wedding as country moves to red
1 News: ‘Such is life’ – PM’s wedding ‘not going ahead’ as NZ moves to Red
RNZ: Festivals, PM’s wedding postponed as New Zealand moves to red light setting
1 News: Splore festival among events canned due to Red light setting
John Lewis (ODT): Events called off due to new setting
Māori TV: Red light stops One Love Festival

Vaccination
Jamie Morton (Newshub): PM urges NZ’s 213,000 unvaxxed to ‘please reconsider’
Polly Gillespie (Stuff): There’s a big Covid divide between Auckland and Wellington
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Jarrod Gilbert (Herald): Tamaki’s arrest another example of sound policing (paywalled)
Damien Grant (Stuff): Why the arrest and detention of Brian Tamaki dismays me
Herald: Act’s David Seymour wants Destiny Church’s Brian Tamaki booted from Mt Eden prison
Will Trafford (Māori TV): ‘Protest in a field!’ – Seymour slams Tamaki supporters
Diane McCarthy (RNZ): Murupara GP to be suspended pending further investigation
Jessica Roden (1 News): Golden Bay cafe becomes ‘private club’ to avoid vax passes
Herald: Covid 19 anti-vaccine protest disrupts central Wellington; Auckland Aotea Square protest too

Parliament, parties
Luke Malpass (Stuff): Why 2022 will be the year Covid really crimps Labour’s visions of change
Claire Trevett (Herald): Will 2022 be Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Year of Reckoning? (paywalled)
Morgan Godfery (Guardian): The deal with Jacinda Ardern’s Labour party is proving toxic for New Zealand’s Greens
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Labour regaining momentum in latest poll, as National’s Luxon surge stalls
Zane Small (Newshub): National leader Christopher Luxon responds to man at public meeting who got round of applause for denouncing use of te reo Māori
Audrey Young (Herald): Weekend at Nikki’s – life after politics and meeting famous singers and former rivals on Barrier
Michael Neilson (Herald): First term National MP Joseph Mooney on poverty, tragedy, Treaty negotiations and everything outdoors (paywalled)
Paul Little (BusinessDesk): Corridors of power – inside the world of NZ’s political lobbyists (paywalled)

Education
Herald: Masks, tests, vaccinations – your back to school questions answered
Lee Kenny (Stuff): Students and staff at most of NZ’s universities must be vaccinated for new term
Katy Jones (Stuff): Nelson school owing $3 million urges government to approve debt plan

Housing
Felix Walton (Spinoff): Our new lending rules have everyone confused. What went wrong?
Miriam Bell (Stuff): ANZ expects house prices to fall by 7 per cent this year
Brendon Harre (Interest): Connecting the lessons from Henry George to the outrageous housing price problems of today
RNZ: Kāinga Ora alters 8500 houses to try and avoid driveway accidents

Tonga volcanic eruption, tsunami
Mark Longley and Kethaki Masilamani (Newshub): Elon Musk replies to Dr Shane Reti’s plea to help Tonga
Mark Longley (Newshub): Dr Shane Reti makes urgent plea to Elon Musk to help with Tonga’s telecommunication issue
RNZ: Tonga eruption: NZ government brings aid funding up to $3m
RNZ: Tonga collection drive organisers call for more drums to hold donations
Lydia Lewis (RNZ): Global aid effort underway for Tonga’s recovery
RNZ: Tongan eruption: 85% of the population impacted – government
RNZ: HMNZS Canterbury sets sail for Tonga with aid onboard
Finau Fonua and Lydia Lewis (RNZ): Overwhelming sense of relief – Tonga newsman

Local government
Bernard Orsman (Herald): Is Auckland Mayor Phil Goff about to bow out of politics and support a rising star to replace him?
Todd Niall (Stuff): Auckland Council could face $25k bill after mowing 8000 native plants
RNZ: Police have no plans to move Franz Josef station, despite mayor’s plea
ODT Editorial: One-ways the only feasible option
RNZ: Christchurch City Council considers removing library fines for overdue books
Luisa Girao (ODT): Targeted rate proposed to sustain pools

Three waters
Blair Jackson (Stuff): Three Waters could turn people off local body politics or inspire protest candidates, expert says
Guy Trafford (Interest): The local water war is just getting started
Susan Botting (Local Democracy Reporting): Three Waters: Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai urges Government to take counter proposal seriously
Lincoln Tan (Herald): Auckland gets consent to draw more water from Waikato River – 300 million litres a day in total

Environment, conservation
Anne Salmond (Newsroom): NZ’s climate planting asking for trouble
Bruce Munro (ODT): Death unleashed
Andrea Vance (Stuff): NZ Govt’s proposal to overturn ban on trawl gear will ‘kill more albatrosses’, critics say
Ryan Boswell (1 News): NZ’s first jet ski dolphin tour proposed in Christchurch

Transport
Jonathan Milne (Newsroom): Commerce Commission ready to rein in record pump prices
Riley Kennedy (ODT): Union fears for NZ’s fuel security
Stuff: Transmission Gully is long overdue, it’s time for answers

Health
Mairatea Mohi (Stuff): $6.2m funding injection to help fix cancer inequities for Māori and Pasifika
Matthew Rosenberg (Local Democracy Reporting): Dental deliverance: Volunteers descend on small town to address needs of failing system
Anusha Bradley (RNZ): Child wins five-year battle with ACC for birth-related injury cover
RNZ: Educating fathers key to improving children’s immunisation rates – research

Child welfare
Sam Sachdeva (Newsroom): Push to ‘save’ Children’s Commissioner from govt reforms
Andrew McRae (RNZ): Child Matters warns of little action on dealing with high rates of child abuse

Foreign affairs
Matt Nippert (Herald): Brady burglary investigators briefed on diplomatic immunity (paywalled)
Sascha-Dominik (Dov) Bachmann (The Conversation): Ukraine might be far away, but a security crisis in Europe can still threaten Aotearoa New Zealand
Stuff Editorial: China’s menacing message to Winter Olympians
Karen Scott (The Conversation): Laws governing undersea cables have hardly changed since 1884 – Tonga is a reminder they need modernising

Population, migration
Brian Gaynor (BusinessDesk): Is New Zealand’s population too low? (paywalled)
Greg Ninness (Interest): Migration flows back in positive territory but the numbers are tiny
Liu Chen (RNZ): Lecturer behind series on Asian migrant women hopes it will inspire movement

Other
Herald: On the Tiles: Max Rashbrooke on class and inequality in New Zealand, and what politicians can do
David Fisher (Herald): Waitangi Day snub – Prime Minister in but National’s Luxon out of ‘superficial’ pōwhiri pre-recorded for TV special
Steve Maharey (Stuff): The big challenges of 2022 and a way forward
RNZ: Corrections criticised on sex assaults in prison
Hamish MacLean (ODT): Misdiagnosis leads to a years-long battle
Emma Tennent (Newsroom): ‘Victim’ or ‘survivor’ — what’s in a name?
RNZ: Animal rescues call for foster home volunteers

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