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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

Govt Omicron strategy
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Government off to slow start with Omicron, but opposition should be careful (paywalled)
Jane Patterson (RNZ): Omicron: Modelling suggests NZ could face peak of 80,000 daily infections
RNZ: Health experts warn of risks in phased approach to tackle Omicron outbreak
Liam Hehir (Patreon): Tide goes out on Covid response (paywalled)
RNZ: Checkpoint: Dr Ashley Bloomfield details Omicron response
Thomas Manch (Stuff): Government lays out three-stage plan to handle Omicron outbreak 
RNZ: Next phases of government’s Omicron plan revealed
Anna Whyte (1 News): More details of three staged Omicron plan released
Irra Lee (1 News): Govt details strict rules for close contact critical staff
Zane Small (Newshub): First look at three phases of Government’s COVID-19 Omicron response revealed
Jenna Lynch (Newshub): Government prepares Kiwis for Omicron, but are we ready?
Rukuwai Tipene-Allen (Māori TV): Māori input lacking in three-phase Omicron plan
AP/1 News: New version of Omicron found in NZ border workers and close contacts
Mike Hosking (Herald): Why do we accept this Covid farce from the Government? (paywalled)

Luke Malpass (Stuff): RATs send Government skittering
Bridie Witton and Thomas Manch (Stuff): Rapid tests shaping up as early pressure point in Government’s Omicron response
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Government should prove it is telling the truth about rapid antigen test supplies, says testing provider
Liu Chen (RNZ): Govt priority in rapid antigen test orders ruins businesses’ pandemic plans – Food and Grocery Council
Zane Small (Newshub): Health Works Group says Government has ‘seconded incoming stock of rapid antigen tests’
Henry Cooke (Stuff): Ashley Bloomfield says Government is taking over incoming orders of rapid antigen tests, but not seizing them
Anneke Smith (RNZ): Govt ‘commandeered’ 100k RAT order – company
Zane Small (Newshub): Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall denies Government ‘requisitioned’ COVID-19 rapid antigen tests
RNZ: Government ‘commandeering’ rapid antigen tests secured by private sector, National Party says
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Businesses warn of bare shelves after Government seizes Covid tests
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog):5 things abut the ridiculous mess the Government allowed the RATs to become
Herald Editorial: RATs have limits but we may have no choice (paywalled)
Daniel Smith (Stuff): Business pleased the Government is heeding calls for rapid antigen tests to be introduced
Heather du Plessis-Allan (Newstalk ZB): More proof of how unprepared the government is
Wyatt Ryder (ODT): Concerns testing volumes will overrun labs
Rachel Thomas and Bridie Witton (Stuff): Lab boss slams Government’s ‘short-sighted’ testing figures
Michael Daly (Stuff): Newer BA.2 version of Omicron variant found in New Zealand

Bernard Hickey (The Kākā): Covid’s big winners and losers revealed
Chris Trotter (Daily Blog): Accidentally Pandering To The Rich – On Purpose
Steven Cowan (Against the current): The pandemic: Boom times for the rich, desperate times for the poor
John Anthony (Stuff): Lockdown helped New Zealand households save more than $3.8b, Stats NZ says
Priscilla Dickinson (Newshub): Bank research reveals the regions where customers had the highest and lowest savings ahead of Omicron outbreak
Russell Palmer (RNZ): Benefit increases going to more than half of families with children – report
Michael Neilson (Herald): Benefit increases go to 330,000 families – more than half in New Zealand
Hamish Cardwell (RNZ): Rising cost of living in Aotearoa may trigger civil disobedience, social service says

Esther Taunton (Stuff): Retailer criticised after P2 mask price increases by 87 per cent
Hanna McCallum (Stuff): More masks sold in three days than all of last year, supplier says
Ireland Hendry-Tennent (Newshub): Everything you need to know about the new mask rules
RNZ: How to adapt to the new mask rules

Health system braces
RNZ: Doctors won’t be able to help everyone when Omicron spreads rapidly – NZMA
Hannah Martin (Stuff): Omicron likely to trigger ‘national emergency’ – nurses union
Emma Clark-Dow (Stuff): Hospital staff may have to return five days after positive test, union says
Māori TV: Omicron: Nurses worried they can’t keep up
Rachel Thomas (Stuff): Two Covid-19 drugs to be available in hospitals from Feb 1 – Pharmac
1 News: What are the main symptoms of an Omicron infection?
Jamie Morton (Herald): Why aerosols raise new variant’s indoor risk
Naomii Seah (Spinoff): How to best protect your young children against omicron

Border, MIQ
Zane Small (Newshub): National drops ‘now’ from ‘end MIQ’ petition, home-isolation pause ‘justified’
Jo Moir (Newsroom): Omicron spread could speed-up staged border reopening
Corazon Miller (1 News): Border delays leave NZ family homeless, jobless in Australia
William Hewett (Newshub): Australian billboard takes sly dig at Jacinda Ardern over border closures

Cases, locations of interest
RNZ: 23 new community cases reported in NZ, number of Omicron cases reaches 56
1 News: 15 new Omicron community cases in NZ on Wednesday
James Halpin (Stuff): Auckland’s Indian community rallies after Omicron-linked weddings
1 News: Taranaki records first Omicron Covid-19 case
1 News: ‘A number’ of Covid-19 cases attended Soundsplash festival
Sharnae Hope (Stuff): Positive cases attended Hamilton’s Soundsplash festival
RNZ: New cases attended music festival in Hamilton
Rachel Sadler (Newshub): Covid-19-positive Soundsplash attendee says festival was ‘ideal breeding ground’ for virus to spread
Sophie Cornish and Rachel Thomas (Stuff): Person with Covid-19 went to Wellington airport but didn’t board flight
1 News: Tauranga early childhood centre linked to possible Omicron case

Vaccination, Vaccine Pass
Moana Ellis (Local Democracy Reporting): Doctor pleads for cut in Covid-19 booster waiting time to protect Māori
Adam Pearse and Chris McDowall (Herald): Inequity emerging early in Auckland’s 5-11-year-old vaccine rollout
Hannah Martin and Kate Newton (Stuff): The people and places where boosters and child vaccinations are lagging
Jimmy Ellingham (RNZ): Dozens of Corrections staff lose jobs over Covid-19 vaccine mandate
Michael Andrew (BusinessDesk): No covid jab? No access to employment justice (paywalled)
1 News: Auckland DHB becomes second to hit 90% double vaxxed for Māori
Edward Gay (Stuff): No vaccination pass or test required for defendants and jurors as trials resume
Kayla Hodge (ODT): Pasifika community group to host vaccination drive-through
RNZ: Christchurch man charged in relation to making and distributing false vaccine passes
Martin Van Beynen (Stuff): Fake vaccine pass holders offered police amnesty after Stuff sting 
Herald: Canterbury police ask anyone with fake vaccine pass to come forward
1 News: Police offer amnesty to Cantabrians with fake vaccine passes
Kurt Bayer (Herald): Canterbury signwriter accused of making fake vaccine passes

Economy, Business
Tom Pullar-Strecker (Stuff): Omicron won’t get supermarkets off the hook with ComCom, advocates predict
Adam Jacobson (Stuff): Consumer NZ: More than 100 complaints made over supermarket food prices 
Susan Edmunds (Stuff): Prices rising at fastest rate in three decades: ‘We’re copping it from all angles’
RNZ: Inflation pressures could push up prices by 10% – Retail NZ
Daniel Smith (Stuff): Consumer goods could be in short supply in an Omicron outbreak
John Anthony (Stuff): Economic outlooks for Omicron outbreak feature both dread and a hint of optimism
RNZ: Checkpoint: Farmers call to be critical workers in Omicron response
Samantha Gee (RNZ): Farmers prepare as closed borders disrupt harvest amid Omicron outbreak
RNZ: Expert expects economic figures to be ‘relatively volatile’ in wake of Omicron
Matthew Littlewood (Stuff): Timaru publican cuts hours again as Covid restrictions bite
Sally Rae (ODT): Another hard year for region
Tina Law (Stuff): Economic confidence in Canterbury takes a tumble but expected to rebound in 2022 
Maiki Sherman (1 News): Kiwi musicians feel ‘used’ by Government over lack of support
Isaac Davison (Herald): Lending changes pushing poorer New Zealanders to loan sharks and crime, credit unions say (paywalled)
Anne Gibson (Herald): New Zealand ranked top country in world for financial freedom, safest in Asia/Pacific (paywalled)
Thomas Bywater (Herald): Omicron travel plans: Is it safe to fly at Red and what to plan for while away
Chris Keall (Herald): The non-traditional players seen seizing 400,000 broadband customers (paywalled)

Daniel Dunkley (Stuff): Now the real pandemic looms for NZ employers
Damien Venuto (Herald): De facto lockdowns’ – impact of the Big Sick on the economy (paywalled)
Charlotte Muru-Lanning (Spinoff): Your rights as a worker if omicron finds its way into your life
Aimee Shaw (Herald): Business groups anxious over working from home return (paywalled)
RNZ: Working at the office at least two days a week is preferred option – survey
Anne Gibson (Herald): Covid 19 creating ‘office nostalgia’ over working from home, survey finds (paywalled)

Cancellations, restrictions
Adam Blackwell (Stuff): All Palmerston North City Council events called off until March
Matthew Hampson (Stuff): Organisers scramble to stop Marlborough events from falling over all together
Adam Blackwell (Stuff): Red traffic light leads to arts cancellations
Stuff: National Touch Championship added to list of red-light cancellations

Protests, Rule breaches
RNZ: Judge grants Brian Tamaki’s bail request
Herald: Brian Tamaki walks free: Destiny Church leader wins appeal against being remanded in custody
Catrin Owen (Stuff): Brian Tamaki released from prison on 24-hour curfew
Brianna Mcilraith (Stuff): Lone Star New Lynn franchisees step down following vaccine mandate breach 
Herald: New Plymouth MMA Studio wrongly claiming customers don’t need Covid vaccine passes
Andrew Owen and Glenn McLean (Stuff): Protest outside New Plymouth Council headquarters

Benedict Collins (1 News): Accommodation supplement not fuelling rent rise – report
Melanie Carroll (Stuff): Porirua still home to NZ’s highest weekly rent, Trade Me says
Ethan Te Ora (Stuff): Greens call for Trade Me to adopt tick-box solution to dungeon-like rentals
Priscilla Dickinson (Newshub): Property price growth likely to fall to single digits in 2022, possibly ‘close to zero’ – property economist
Greg Ninness (Interest): CoreLogic expects balance of power in the housing market to tip towards buyers by mid-year
Jake McKee (RNZ): Aspiring homeowners consider cutting essential costs to secure lending for mortgage
Riley Kennedy (ODT): SBS boss happy lending laws under review
Cherie Sivignon (Stuff): Housing still a key focus for Nelson MP

Parliament, parties
1 News: New data shows threats to Kiwi politicians on the rise
Tess McClure (Guardian): New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern shrugs off car chase by anti-vaccination protesters
Dylan Reeve (Spinoff): A conversation with the woman behind a viral video attacking Jacinda Ardern
1 News: First political poll for 2022 released tomorrow
Richard Harman (Politik): Guns and knitting needles; Nicole McKee’s remarkable political journey (paywalled0

Jin Russell (The Conversation): Despite Omicron arriving, keeping schools open as safely as possible should be the goal
Kirsty Wynn (Herald): Frustration as principals struggle to find clear rules on handling Omicron
Dubby Henry (Herald): Paediatricians say school closures should be last resort
Tom Peters (World Socialists): New Zealand schools and public transport will be breeding grounds for Omicron infections
Ella Stewart (RNZ): School uniforms ‘increasingly unaffordable for most families’ – charity
Jody O’Callaghan (Stuff): Teaching of New Zealand history in schools delayed by a year

Child welfare
RNZ: Role of Children’s Commissioner must remain independent to be effective – commissioner
Jan Logie (Stuff): We need a truly independent champion for our children
ODT Editorial: Branding bombardment

Local government
Morgan Godfery (Stuff): The world’s largest Polynesian city might elect its first Polynesian mayor
Todd Niall (Stuff): Auckland mayoralty: Efeso Collins confirms bid for the job
Samantha Worthington (1 News): Efeso Collins to run in 2022 Auckland Mayoral race
Herald: High profile councillor Efeso Collins standing for Auckland Mayoralty
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Mainstream media finally catch up to TDB on Auckland Mayoralty meltdown
Todd Niall (Stuff): Tree charity demands apology and replanting after Auckland Council mowed down 8000 plants
Linda Cooper (Herald):  Criticism of Auckland Council spending is unwarranted (paywalled)
Oscar Francis (ODT): Nasty month for abuse of council staff
Joanne Naish (Stuff): Council offices closed under Omicron threat to protect staff 
Cherie Sivignon (Stuff): Tasman District Council brings in Covid-19 vaccine mandate for all roles
Erin Bradnock (Local Democracy Reporting): Tasman District councillor’s attendance record at 43 per cent
Luisa Girao (ODT): $15 visitor levy plan raises operator hackles
RNZ: Stewart Island/Rakiura visitor levy may triple
Stephen Ward (Stuff): $110m iwi fin fish farming push for Coromandel wins council support

Georgina Campbell (Herald): Let’s Get Wellington Moving: Fruitless search for transport boss after 10 months
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Auckland sitting on $285m fuel tax windfall, with more than half of all fuel tax unspent
Todd Niall (Stuff): No Government cash for Omicron fare slump on public transport
Ben Strang (Stuff): Police, NZTA are failing to deliver on ‘Road to Zero’ – review
Olivia Wannan (Stuff): The utes parked at EV charging stations

Robin Martin (RNZ): New Plymouth mayor wants government involved over Corteva’s exit from controversial plant site
Molly Swift (Newshub): Popular New Zealand beaches infested with faecal bacteria
Oscar Francis (ODT): Funding boost to help hoiho

Virginia Fallon (Stuff): Covid is no excuse for things broken long before the pandemic
Anusha Bradley (RNZ): ACC goes back to drawing board over failed $1.4m navigation service
Adam Burns (Local Democracy Reporting): MP pushes for mental health training in Rangiora as part of national strategy
Cecile Meier (Stuff): Autistic young adults are less likely to be charged with crimes, but those charged face tougher penalties – NZ study
Olivia Shivas (Stuff): Disability advocates frustrated over feedback process for accessibility legislation

Foreign affairs
Mike Smith (The Standard): Prisoners of the Narrative #1
Thomas Manch (Stuff): MFAT advises New Zealanders in Ukraine to ‘consider leaving’ due to fears of Russian invasion
Richard Prebble (Herald): Defence, security, climate bigger threats than Covid, review states (paywalled)
Andrew Macfarlane (1 News): Number of successful appeals by 501 deportees revealed

Tonga volcanic eruption, tsunami
Michael Morrah (Newshub): Tonga eruption and tsunami: Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni says some displaced residents may permanently relocate
Torika Tokalau (Stuff): Tonga tsunami: Aucklanders fill 25 shipping containers with $1.6m of donations
RNZ: MP Jenny Salesa confident Tonga government can handle Covid-19 aboard Australian Navy vessel
RNZ: Council, port help Tongan families in Otago ship food supplies

Gill Bonnett (RNZ): Thousands become New Zealand residents under new scheme
1 News: Migrants queue overnight for residency application medicals

Lake Alice
David Williams (Newsroom): Lake Alice doctor’s death puts spotlight on Govt
RNZ: Lake Alice child and adolescent unit former lead psychiatrist Dr Selwyn Leeks dies aged 92
Aaron Smale (Stuff): Notorious Lake Alice psychiatrist Dr Selwyn Leeks dies

Hamish Cardwell (RNZ): Police internal review on photographing youth given to independent watchdogs
Bryce Wilkinson (Herald):  The train wreck that is Government policy-making (paywalled)
Laura Hooper (Stuff): Funding to develop new community gardens in Invercargill
Jessica Tyson (Māori TV): New Zealand is far ahead on reparations for indigenous – Dame Areta Koopu
RNZ: Broadcasting Standards Authority issues warning over Covid-19 misinformation
Mikaela Wilkes (Stuff): Meet the hosts of the new AM show: Melissa Chan-Green, Ryan Bridges, Bernadine Oliver-Kerby and William Waiirua



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