The Big Boost aimed to combat Covid but Ngāti Hauā have been given a boost, too – $1.12m to grow a blueberry business

The first ministerial press statement posted on the Beehive website after Point of Order had published its latest roundup of Beehive news dealt with something the government grandly dubbed The Big Boost.

No, this was not another boost for farmers or growers from Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor (although he was busy dishing out $1.12 million from his ministry’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund to a Waikato-based Maori tribe, Ngati Haua).

The Big Boost on which we are focussed was an exercise in vaccination, booster shots and  – let’s face it – political hype, if not propaganda.

“New Zealanders have rolled up their sleeves in droves as part of The Big Boost nationwide call to action – but we’re not done yet, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

“As predicted, Omicron cases are increasing across New Zealand and it’s critical we get as many people as possible boosted in February to slow the spread of the virus and protect our communities…”

The timing was a tad unfortunate.  On the same day Family First published the results of a nationwide poll which found –  Continue reading “The Big Boost aimed to combat Covid but Ngāti Hauā have been given a boost, too – $1.12m to grow a blueberry business”

Most media are tuned into the border reopening; only some have picked up on ‘partnership’ being pushed (with $32m) into IT

At least one speech writer and two Beehive press officers – as well as all the health experts who provided advice and the ministers who digested it – were involved in the announcement that the border is being reopened.

Point of Order expects this will be widely reported by mainstream media.

Another press statement from the Beehive – in contrast – doesn’t seem to have attracted too many headlines, although Business Desk reports it involves a deal that will give an ongoing allocation of 20% of future national commercial radio spectrum allocations at no cost to a Māori spectrum entity.

Seeding funding of $32 million will be given to the new entity, too, over five years.

But first (hurrah!), the opening of the border.

The decision means the end of managed isolation and quarantine. Continue reading “Most media are tuned into the border reopening; only some have picked up on ‘partnership’ being pushed (with $32m) into IT”

The Treaty gives government a tonic to deal to family violence – but science is called on to deal with Myrtle rust

Vaccine announcements have dominated news from the Beehive over the past few days, but while the vaccine deals to Covid,  the Treaty of Waitangi has been prescribed to deal to family violence.

ACC minister Carmel Sepuloni announced the ACC is investing $44.9 million over four years to establish “a fit-for-purpose sexual violence primary prevention system”.

This is bound to be successful because it is based on the Treaty, a document signed in 1840 comprising just three articles.  But when interpreted by the Ardern governmnent,  this document holds the key to ridding us (apparently) of pretty well anything from warts to citizens’ rights to challenge local authorities’ race-based governance proposals.

And so:

“The new Te-Tiriti-informed primary prevention system announced today, will provide long-term, sustained investment and enhance our Government’s effort to prevent sexual violence.

“The package includes $11.715 million of targeted investment for kaupapa Māori approaches. It will enhance the primary prevention system in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Who provides the money?

Most of us, we imagine, although when it comes  to determining who should be given priority in the spending of this money, the government unabashedly brings race into calculations.

“As Treaty partners, ACC will prioritise Māori and partner with whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori communities,” Associate Minister for ACC Willie Jackson said. Continue reading “The Treaty gives government a tonic to deal to family violence – but science is called on to deal with Myrtle rust”

Govt unveils its guide to housing policies and investment – but check out who gets partnerships and who gets relationships

Border controls have been eased in two government announcements over the past day or so.  Megan Woods, meanwhile, has been busy issuing statements variously as minister of Housing, of Research, Science and Innovation, and of Energy and Resources.

As Housing Minister she drew attention to the Government Policy Statement on Housing and Urban Development (GPS-HUD), which will guide government policies and investments in tackling the housing crisis.

But she announced yet another government initiative – the National Māori Housing Strategy – which is grounded in the government’s highly political interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi, an interpretation which has given rise to a spate of race-based “partnerships”.

The place of non-Maori in the Ardern government’s policy-making pecking order is plain from the language in Woods’ press statement:

“The housing crisis we inherited is a challenge the Government can’t tackle on its own.

“We need to pursue meaningful partnerships with iwi and Māori as Te Tiriti o Waitangi partners to make progress.

“We also need to cement resilient relationships with community housing providers and other non-government organisations, local government, the private sector, and communities.”

It’s a “partnership” with Maori and “relationships” with everybody else. Continue reading “Govt unveils its guide to housing policies and investment – but check out who gets partnerships and who gets relationships”

Was that the Nashing of teeth we heard, as Amazon announced our sweeteners weren’t enough to keep Tolkien blockbuster in NZ?

While the PM and her team were setting out their programme to reconnect us with the rest of the world, Amazon was advising the government of its plans to pull the plug  – both from our film-making facilities and from the government’s generous subsidies.

And whereas yesterday’s “Latest from the Beehive” posts included two speeches and a press statement on (eventually) the reopening of our borders, today’s posts include news of the Government’s response to Amazon’s withdrawal.

Amazon’s decision was reported more than 12 hours ago by The Guardian (which wasn’t necessarily the first to break the news).

Amazon has made the surprise decision to move production of its $1bn-plus Lord of the Rings series from New Zealand to the UK, rejecting tens of millions of dollars in incentives to shoot the TV show in the same location as the blockbuster films.


The government was informed of Amazon’s decision to pull out of New Zealand on Thursday. The economic development minister Stuart Nash said it was disappointing, especially for the local film industry.

Maybe our disinclination to reconnect with the world just yet was a factor in Amazon’s decision to disconnect.

The Guardian says:

One additional factor is the strict Covid policies that continue to operate in New Zealand, which Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister, said would mean the country’s borders would effectively remain closed until the end of the year.

Any time a member of the cast or crew left the country – roughly half the cast is from the UK – they would have to quarantine for 14 days and there are limits on how many people can leave the production at any given time.

It looks like a big setback the wellbeing for our film industry.

But Nash has gone on the front foot, as you can see from the most recent posting (at time of writing) of press releases on The Beehive website:

Latest from the Beehive

The Lord of the Rings season two

The New Zealand Government will no longer proceed with part of the deal to support the Lord of the Rings TV Series, following the decision by Amazon Studios to shift production of future seasons to the United Kingdom.

Other recent Beehive posts tell us …

Prison Kapa Haka a great success

After six weeks of performances across New Zealand prisons, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis has congratulated Tongariro Prison as the overall winner of the 2021 Hōkai Rangi Whakataetae Kapa Haka.

 Opening comments for Reconnecting New Zealanders to the World Forum

Today we will be discussing some of the big questions facing us as we continue to protect New Zealanders against COVID-19, while at the same time preparing to gradually and safely reopen to the world.

Government sets out plan to reconnect New Zealanders to the world

The Government will use the second half of 2021 to vaccinate as many New Zealanders as possible and safely conduct a self-isolation trial for vaccinated New Zealanders in order to prepare for a phased resumption of quarantine-free travel, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

Speech to Reconnecting New Zealanders to the World Forum

I want to start by thanking Professor Skegg and your group of experts for the important scientific contribution you have made to this discussion and the Government’s decision making about reopening our borders.

Big tick for Taranaki taonga species

Projects aimed at protecting taonga species, including kiwi, kokako and hihi, are among a number of Taranaki-based initiatives receiving a boost through the Government’s Jobs for Nature programme, Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan says.

Community Housing Providers to get upfront funding to deliver new builds faster

Community Housing Providers (CHP) will now to be able to access up-front funding in the early stages of new build developments to help bring on more public housing at pace, the Housing Minister Dr Megan Woods has announced following a roundtable of CHP leaders in Wellington last night.

By now the government’s border-opening programme has become the subject of nation-wide discussion and debate through other media.

Point of Order today will focus, rather, on the announcement that the government will no longer proceed with part of the deal to support the Lord of the Rings TV Series.

That’ll show ’em, eh?

Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash said he was disappointed by the decision.

“Amazon Studios advised that post-production work on Season One will continue in New Zealand till June 2022. However, Season Two will be filmed in the UK as part of a strategy by the studio to expand its production space and consolidate its footprint in the UK.

“I am enormously proud of the New Zealand screen sector. The Amazon Studios’ decision in no way reflects the capabilities of our local film industry or the talents of the people who work in it. This is a multi-national company that has made a commercial choice.

“With Season One, the New Zealand screen sector has proven its reputation for offering a world-class workforce, globally competitive sound stages and post-production facilities, and a safe destination with outstanding scenery and friendly and welcoming people.”

Nash then got down to business:

“The previously agreed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Amazon Studios will no longer proceed in its current form. The five percent incentive previously offered on top of the standard 20 percent rebate for all international film productions is withdrawn.”

Amazon Studios – like every other international production – is eligible for a 20 per cent rebate on its qualifying production expenditure in this country, under the terms of the International Screen Production Grant.

Amazon Studios’ qualifying local expenditure is estimated to total around $663.74 million so it could potentially be eligible for a $132 million rebate under the 20 per cent rule.

“The international film sector is incredibly competitive and highly mobile. We have no regrets about giving this production our best shot with government support. However, we are disappointed for the local screen industry. Work will continue across government on ways to keep supporting the sector,” Stuart Nash said.

Which means work will continue to find other financial lures to bring the movie moguls to this country.

Now let’s check out The Guardian’s account of what has happened.

The newspaper  says Amazon, which four years ago paid $250m to secure the TV rights to JRR Tolkien’s works after founder Jeff Bezos demanded a Game of Thrones-style hit for its streaming service, chose to film the first series in New Zealand after competitive bids from around the world.

But whereas we Kiwis like to believe this country is the land of the Hobbit, the descendants of Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien have other ideas:

It is understood that the Tolkien estate had been keen for the series to be shot in the UK, the land that inspired JRR Tolkien’s original books, although did not have any right to determine the TV production’s location.

Production will continue in New Zealand until June next year with the premiere of the first series, which has reportedly cost $465m, scheduled for 2 September next year.

The Guardian notes that the production has not been without controversy in New Zealand.

Earlier this year, the government had to defend its deal with Amazon Studios following criticism that it was ‘bending over backwards’ for one of the richest companies in the world, by offering it multimillion dollar rebates to bring its production to the country.

The UK offers attractive rebates for TV series that cost more than $1m an episode to shoot and is the home of many high-profile Amazon productions.

The New Zealand Film Commission chief executive David Strong said the Amazon production had employed nearly 2,000 New Zealanders.

“It’s a shame and I feel for everyone who has put their hearts into this production. Season two was expected to begin later in 2022, so our role now is to work hard to keep the Kiwi screen sector employed.”

 Strong said the Studio’s departure will open up avenues for other international productions to shoot in New Zealand.




Hipkins is chuffed as more vaccine arrives – but is he immune from Seymour’s needling about the doses required in the year ahead?

It was as if the cavalry had come galloping in:   Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins enthused that the largest shipment of Pfizer vaccines yet has arrived two days ahead of schedule.

The shipment of 150,000 doses touched down late in Auckland at the weekend.

Hipkins acknowledged how close the country had come to running out of the vaccine.  New Zealand had distributed nearly all of its supply of the Pfizer vaccine in storage, giving DHBs enough stock to last until Wednesday.

“The early arrival means no DHB will run out of vaccine. Teams have been working tirelessly to ensure vaccine doses have been getting to the right places to honour all existing appointments, and they’ve done a fantastic job.”

In another statement, this time as Minister of Education, Hipkins announced that yet another group of people was being exempt from the border rules that – we are led to believe – protect New Zealanders by carefully regulating who can come here and under what conditions.

The need for these rules being strictly applied becomes more acute when the vaccination programme is faltering. Continue reading “Hipkins is chuffed as more vaccine arrives – but is he immune from Seymour’s needling about the doses required in the year ahead?”

The kids will be at school – so let’s check what the speed limit is just now and be sure we know when we can legally quicken the pace

The wellbeing of our young ones is high in considerations in the Beehive today. More bureaucracy comes into it, too, at first glimpse.

The Government is proposing “to make it easier” for local communities to set safe speed limits around schools to help kids get to and from school safely

But much speed-management planning will be required which (we imagine) can only mean more paper work.

Improved wellbeing would be the aim of other new initiatives – 

  • To make our borders even safer, the Government has created a new ‘very high risk country’ category that (it claims) will significantly reduce the number of infected people flying to New Zealand. The new category kicks in from 11.59pm on 28 April. Countries have initially been designated very high risk where there have been more than 50 cases of COVID-19 per 1000 arrivals to New Zealand from those countries in 2021, and where there are more than 15 travellers on average per month. India, Brazil, Papua New Guinea and Pakistan now meet that threshold.
  • Housing Minister Megan Woods has opened a 167 unit apartment in Auckland’s Glen Eden and 83 transitional homes in Ōtahuhu.

Fair to say, the improved wellbeing of Kiwis -all of us or some of us – to some extent is the aim of other statements:  Continue reading “The kids will be at school – so let’s check what the speed limit is just now and be sure we know when we can legally quicken the pace”

The PM announces a relaxation of border controls – but only Cook Islanders will be able to benefit

Our kindly PM registered her return to work as leader of the nation with yet another statement on the Beehive website, the second in two days (following her appointment of Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council on Wednesday).

It’s great to know we don’t have to check with Twitter to learn what her government is doing and/or what she thinks about the big issues of the day.

More fascinating, her press statement – at first blush – seemed to conflict with an announcement on Tuesday from COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.

This advised us that the Government is putting in place a new set of measures to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants.

Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that most global air routes will be of critical concern for the foreseeable future, and we must respond strongly to the evolving situation,” said Chris Hipkins.

“New Zealand is currently in a very fortunate position with no community cases – let alone of new variant types – but we take nothing for granted.

“That’s why we continue to take action, with very specific steps to further strengthen our response at the air border.” Continue reading “The PM announces a relaxation of border controls – but only Cook Islanders will be able to benefit”

Seymour is saying the most as the pollies thrust and parry on the pros and cons of Covid policies

The tightening of the border to keep new strains of Covid-19 at bay and demands to hasten the Covid-19 vaccination programme have dominated political debate – at least insofar as press statements provide a measure – in recent days.

Opposition parties have been much busier than the government – or have made much more noise – by releasing several statements on Covid-19 issues since Sunday.

But one of those, posted on both the Scoop and Voxy websites on 11 January in the name of National’s Chris Bishop, perhaps should be discounted because it is a repetition of a statement he released on December 28:

“The announcement today that from early next year all returnees from the UK and US will require pre-departure testing is a sound decision and one that the National Party has been calling for since August when we proposed a Border Protection Agency, National’s Covid-19 Recovery spokesperson Chris Bishop.

This would have made more sense late last year but not early this year, because “early next year” now refers to early 2022.  Moreover, Point of Order could find no government announcement about returnees from the UK and US on January 11 to trigger Bishop’s remarks. Continue reading “Seymour is saying the most as the pollies thrust and parry on the pros and cons of Covid policies”

The border is NZ’s first defence against Covid-19 – but the rules will be relaxed to ensure our crops are harvested

Having reminded Parliament that New Zealanders in October elected a majority Government for the first time under our Mixed Member Proportional electoral system, and that the Government enjoys the confidence of a clear majority of members in the House of Representatives, the Speech from the Throne set out the policy programme we can expect to be implemented.

The first objective is to keep New Zealanders safe from COVID and:

“The first layer of defence is our border.  With COVID cases increasing around the world, in a growing number of countries, the risk of travelers arriving at the border with COVID increases.  The Government will continue to strengthen border protections.  Testing, infection control procedures, and professional and quality staffing will remain cornerstones of the response.”

But the speech also signalled the Government’s intention to

“ … create opportunities for businesses to access the skills they need.  The Government will ensure that up to 10 percent of places in our managed isolation facilities are used by people granted exceptions to enter New Zealand to contribute to accelerating our recovery.”

Before the day was done, exemptions were announced to enable 2000 more workers under the “recognised seasonal employers” scheme (RSE)  to enter New Zealand from January next year. Continue reading “The border is NZ’s first defence against Covid-19 – but the rules will be relaxed to ensure our crops are harvested”