New Zealand

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An Unexpected Briefing #AirNZSafetyVideo
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Just another day in Middle-earth #airnzhobbit

Chris Hipkins taking over from Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday
Sole nominee secures Labour endorsement for prime minister, with Carmel Sepuloni as deputy, and incumbent’s last engagements on Tuesday
Chris Hipkins will be New Zealand’s next prime minister following a formal vote that endorsed him as Jacinda Ardern’s successor after her shock resignation on Thursday.
New Zealand will also swear in its first ever Pasifika deputy prime minister, with social development minister Carmel Sepuloni, who is of Tongan and Samoan descent, to take the role.
Chris Hipkins profile: who is New Zealand’s next prime minister after Jacinda Ardern?
‘Chippy’ weathered Covid pandemic, now faces new storms and Labour’s flagging popularity ahead of 2023 election

Jacinda Ardern is a global icon — but she’s still a politician
Ardern led New Zealand through some of its biggest crises, but the country’s political winds are shifting.
By Ellen Ioanes
(Vox) After nearly six years leading New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern’s tenure as prime minister will come to an end February 7, as her Labour Party dips in the polls and the country appears poised for a recession.
It’s also the end of at least one phase of her international prominence. Ardern didn’t become famous because of New Zealand’s primacy in the international order, but rather because of who she was, and her specific responses to the national and international catastrophes that defined her tenure. She was celebrated for her leadership through a white supremacist mass shooting at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, and through the Covid-19 crisis — two moments that put her in stark contrast to bombastic, autocratic leaders like former US President Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, in addition to making her a symbol for young women in leadership.
But as important as Ardern’s global profile is, there’s no getting around the hard facts of domestic democratic politics. Inflation continues to batter economies across the globe; in New Zealand, that’s playing out in particular in the housing market. Many New Zealanders make their income through real estate — owning and renting properties. But skyrocketing housing prices, [Kathy Smits, a professor of politics and international relations at the University of Auckland] explained, combined with high interest rates, have crippled that sector of New Zealand’s economy and helped push the country toward a recession. It’s also squeezed the housing market, making affordable housing difficult for many New Zealanders to find.
Ardern also failed to make significant headway on child poverty in New Zealand, which is among the highest in the Western world. “It’s really at quite shocking levels,” Smits said, particularly among Māori and Pacific populations. Though Ardern’s administration managed to decrease the percentage of children in poverty marginally during her tenure, critics argue that the government didn’t go nearly far enough, especially given that it was one of her major policy issues.
Furthermore, New Zealand has a fairly low tax rate, despite that taxes or some form of income are needed to fund social programs like the kinds that would help alleviate childhood poverty. But Ardern’s party refused to implement capital gains taxes on income — with Ardern saying that such a tax hike would never occur under her leadership.
Those domestic issues have made Labour vulnerable from both the right and the left; more progressive politicians and voters are disappointed with the party’s inability to make real and significant headway on social issues — in part because the government refused to take necessary measures to raise money that would support social programs, Smits said.

19-20 January

Jacinda Ardern resigns as prime minister of New Zealand

Labour leader to stand down no later than 7 February, saying she ‘no longer had enough in the tank’ to do the job
New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has said she is resigning, in an unexpected announcement that came as she confirmed a national election for October.
“I’m leaving, because with such a privileged role comes responsibility – the responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead and also when you are not. I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It’s that simple,” she said.
Her term as prime minister will conclude no later than 7 February but she will continue as an MP until the election this year.
In five momentous years Jacinda Ardern became New Zealand’s most important postwar prime minister
Morgan Godfery
Ardern proved she was more than a happy face as she confronted Covid, terrorism, the climate crisis and more
(The Guardian) In one sense it feels as if Jacinda Ardern, who came to office in 2017, was the perpetual prime minister. In the collective memory, time fractures into the innocent period before the Christchurch massacre, the White Island eruption, the pandemic and then the exhausting period post.
In each period – both before and after that defining summer from December 2019 to February 2020 – it feels as if the constant was Ardern. It’s difficult to imagine any other prime minister cutting through their bureaucracy’s cautious advice, their cabinet’s hesitancy and their citizenry’s uncertainty to make the decision to lock down a country of five million and work towards eliminating Covid-19.
Yet Ardern did. Within a few short months Covid was contained in New Zealand. The economy would boom. And in an uncharacteristically warm, dry spring in 2020 the prime minister won an unprecedented parliamentary majority – an endorsement of her policies and leadership in the worst emergency in almost a century.
Marcus Gee: Jacinda Ardern’s master class in leadership
(Globe & Mail) Ms. Ardern has travelled a hard road since becoming Prime Minister at the age of just 37 – the country’s youngest head of government in a century and a half. As she once said, she never really had a chance to simply govern. Instead, she found herself fighting her way through three major crises: the Christchurch mosque attacks, the deadly volcanic eruption on an outlying island and the global pandemic.
She handled each with eloquence and aplomb.
The key moments of Jacinda Ardern’s time as prime minister
From her response to the Christchurch mosque attacks and Covid to becoming a mother while in office, Ardern attracted headlines worldwide
(The Guardian) The violent shooting attack on two Christchurch mosques by a lone Australian terrorist, which killed 51 people, was the cataclysmic event of Ardern’s premiership, and her response to it its defining act.
In the uncertain hours after the Christchurch mosque attacks of 15 March 2019, Ardern emphasised that the victims of the massacre were beloved, integral members of the New Zealand community. The attacker was not.
In the immediate aftermath, Ardern moved to tighten New Zealand’s gun laws, banning military-style semi-automatic weapons just six days after the attack. More than 62,000 firearms were ultimately removed from circulation through a gun buy-back scheme.
And she became an outspoken campaigner to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online, spearheading – alongside the French president, Emmanuel Macron – the Christchurch Call to Action.
All premierships since 2020 will be marked, in some way, against the scorecard of Covid-19. Ardern, helped by New Zealand’s island nation geography and relatively robust public health system, was widely praised for a “world-leading” response, but significantly thanked her “team of 5 million” New Zealanders for their support, and the sacrifices they had made.

2022

5 December
New Zealand announces review of its handling of COVID-19 pandemic
(Reuters) – The New Zealand government said on Monday it would launch an inquiry into the country’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic so future governments could learn from the experience.
A Royal Commission, a public inquiry of the highest level in New Zealand, would look at the overall response, the government said in a statement. That would include considering economic measures, such as fiscal and monetary policy responses but without reviewing particular central bank decisions.
A one-time poster child for tackling the coronavirus, New Zealand’s swift response to the pandemic and its geographic isolation kept the country largely COVID-19 free until the end of 2021, winning [Prime Minister] Ardern strong domestic support.
But anger over vaccine mandates for people working in sectors such as health and education and strict border closures prompted protests earlier this year. The government’s financial response is also now being blamed by some political opposition parties for contributing to three-decade high inflation.
The review will be concluded in mid-2024, the government said.

1 October
How to explore Lord of the Rings filming locations in New Zealand
(National Geographic Traveller (UK)) The release of Amazon Prime’s The Rings of Power has brought Tolkien’s Middle-earth to the fore once again. Here’s how to explore the awe-inspiring landscapes that took centre stage in the famous film series.
In the decade after the Lord of the Rings films premiered, Variety reported that international visits to Wellington leapt by a staggering 87%. According to Tourism New Zealand, nearly one in five visitors first discovered the country through the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, and a third of all travellers visited a film location during their stay. In 2019, ‘Tolkien Tourism’ was worth NZ$630m (£330m) to the economy alone. Since New Zealand’s border restrictions eased earlier this year, fans have returned to rediscover Middle-earth once more.

31 May
New Zealand Urges US Engagement With Pacific Island States
(VoA) New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged President Joe Biden to engage more with Pacific Island states amid China’s concerted push to increase its clout in the region when she met with the U.S. leader at the White House on Tuesday.
New Zealand has raised concerns about the Chinese presence in the Indo-Pacific region following Beijing’s security deal with the Solomon Islands. The pact, signed in April, would allow China to “make ship visits to, carry out logistical replacement in, and have stopover and transition in the Solomon Islands.”

28 January
New Zealand’s Subtly Shifting Foreign Policy
In the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic and the China-U.S. trade war have forced the New Zealand government to diversify its trade and diplomatic relations.
(The Diplomat) As a response to the challenges to its foreign policy, New Zealand is consciously attempting to rely less on China economically, which does have political implications. The development of New Zealand’s foreign policy can be observed in three aspects: Wellington’s participation in international and regional organizations, the diversification of its foreign relations, and its subtle adjustments to its policy toward China, particularly concerning some political and international issues such as the South China Sea.
New Zealand has actively participated in international organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations. Being aware of its geographical position and its small size, New Zealand thinks that only by joining multilateral institutions can it successfully advocate its positions and advance its national interests. At conferences of these international organizations, New Zealand calls for free trade systems, COVID-19 vaccination coverage, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, carbon emission reductions, environmental protection, and protection of human rights.

2020

How did New Zealand become Covid-19 free?
(BBC) In late June, two cases of coronavirus were confirmed in New Zealand.
When many countries are registering thousands of cases a day, two seems little to worry about.
But until that point, New Zealand had gone 24 days without a single case, so these – linked to quarantine breaches – were enough to lead to the resignation of the health minister.
So what was the strategy behind New Zealand’s Covid-19 success?
When did New Zealand bring in border closures?
On 2 February, a man in the Philippines became the first person outside China to die of Covid-19.
At this point, there were no reported cases in New Zealand, but the next day, the country began banning entry to any foreigner coming from or via China. Any New Zealander returning from China had to isolate for 14 days.
As the virus spread globally, a flight ban was also extended to Iran – the origin of New Zealand’s first case – and restrictions placed on anyone arriving from South Korea, northern Italy, or who was showing symptoms.
As of midnight on 16 March, everybody – including New Zealanders – had to go into self-isolation on arrival in the country, unless they were coming from the largely unaffected Pacific island nations.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said these were the strictest regulations in the world, for which she would “make no apologies”.
Then, a few days later, Ms Ardern took the unprecedented step of closing the borders entirely to almost all non-citizens or residents.

2019-October 2021
White Island Volcano December
Science agency on trial following deadly White Island volcano eruption
(Nature) The rare example of a government research agency facing criminal charges after a natural disaster underlines the perils of communicating and managing risk.
New Zealand’s Earth-science research agency, GNS Science, has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges laid in the wake of a devastating volcanic eruption at White Island in 2019 that left 22 people dead and 25 injured.
The cone-shaped volcano, 48 kilometres off the coast of the country’s North Island, was the site of an explosive eruption of steam, rock and other debris on 9 December that year.
30 November 2020
New Zealand Charges 13 Parties Over Deaths At White Island Volcano
(NPR) New Zealand’s government has filed charges over the volcano eruption that killed 22 people on White Island last year, saying operators that brought tourists to see the country’s most active volcano failed to follow health and safety rules.
Officials say 47 people were on the island when the volcano erupted in the early afternoon of Dec. 9, sending a plume of ash, toxic gas and rocks some 12,000 feet into the sky. Rescue crews rushed to find survivors, and recovery teams spent roughly two weeks trying to find victims.
The eruption was unexpected, but it wasn’t unforeseeable, according to WorkSafe New Zealand, the country’s workplace safety agency.
9 December 2019
New Zealand volcano: The moment after eruption hit
(BBC) Several people are unaccounted for following a deadly volcanic eruption at a New Zealand tourist destination, local police have said.
Tourists were seen walking inside the rim of the White Island crater just moments before the eruption.

Mosque Shootings
April 2019
New Zealand seeks quick ban on nearly all semi-automatic weapons
Legislation to ban almost all military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles will be introduced the first week of April, the prime minister said.

March 2019
49 killed in mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand
CNN — At least 49 people were killed and 20 seriously injured in mass shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch Friday, in a carefully planned and unprecedented atrocity that shocked the usually peaceful nation.
The attack was unleashed at lunchtime local time Friday, when mosques were full of worshippers. Footage of the massacre was streamed live online, and a rambling manifesto laced with white supremacist references was published just before the shootings unfolded.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the horror as a terrorist attack, saying it was perpetrated by suspects with “extremist views” that had no place in her country or the wider world. It was one of the New Zealand’s “darkest days,” she said in a press conference Friday.
Authorities said that every law enforcement resource in the country was mobilized after the attack.
Comprehensive NBC coverage of Mosque shooting and aftermath New Zealand Mosque Shooting
Suspect in Christchurch mosque shootings charged with terrorism
The suspect is now charged with engaging in a terrorist act in the attack that killed 51 people.

2018
There’s a baby at the U.N. General Assembly
(NYT) She hasn’t taken her first step or said her first words, but the “first baby” of New Zealand can already boast having visited the U.N. General Assembly.
On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, one of only two elected world leaders to have given birth while in office, became the first to bring her baby into the U.N. assembly hall when she arrived with 3-month-old daughter Neve Gayford in tow.
Little Neve even got her own temporary U.N. badge identifying her as “Ms. Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford.”

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