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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12

30 August 2021 6 comments

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29 August: Day 12 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 429

Cases in ICU:  2

Number of deaths: –

Not a work day, so I’ve stayed home. Housework to do, writing, and went to Pak N Save. A long queue outside, so decided to go back later when it’ll hopefully be quieter.

On Jim Mora’s Sunday Morning programme on RNZ, panellists Mike Williams and Linda Clark were a breath of sanity after the doom-merchants and lockdown critics we’ve been enduring for the last week. Listening to them both- especially Ms Clark – allowed some measure of composure after the gloomy cynicism much of  the MSM has been platforming and amplifying lately.

Ms Clark said, in part:

“I think comments by people like Scott Morrison, and other overseas commentators who various media outlets have chosen to publish in the last week, and some of our own commentators actually, are very critical of the New Zealand strategy because of their politics and not because of the science.

…If the New Zealand strategy works… if it works, people like Scott Morrison will have to speak up to their own population and explain why a whole lot of people needlessly died. Because that is the consequence of the so-called Plan B. And if you look at those countries overseas that are… cliche of the moment is living with it, ‘they’re living with it’, but a whole lot of people in their countries are dying with it. So… the number of deaths in countries like Australia, the UK, those numbers are as high now as they were in April… In the UK had 140 deaths yesterday or the day before; 1,200 deaths in the United States two days ago; and of course in New South Wales yesterday… more than a thousand cases.

So I think there’s a really deep and pretty cynical strand of politics around a lot of the criticism about New Zealand’s strategy.

Now you can criticise how it’s been implemented; it can be improved absolutely. I’m not arguing about that. But the politics of this is messy. Because as I said, the living with it strategy means that some people don’t. And you just have to look around you and think, “Ok if we lived with this, if let it in, if we give up like other countries have, I mean Boris Johnson just got bored with it, if we get bored with it and we want to do what Boris Johnson has done and what Scott Morrison is now talking about; which of us in our community are you willing to sacrifice”?

Is it nana? Is it grandad? Is it your aunty? I mean, actually, its not going to be just old people, because at the moment in Australia, in New South Wales hospitals there’s a whole lot of young people under the age of 9.

So, your nephew, your daughter, your son? That’s the question here.

And those columnists that are constantly on about this, just simply don’t want to face up to that. And added to that I put David Seymour who yesterday talked about the fact we we can’t eliminate any longer. Well we actually can stay with the strategy, and we are, and New Zealanders have a good sense of this and that’s why they’re following the rules, by and large.”

[Blogger’s note: some repetitive words and halted-speech have been omitted.]

I suspect she spoke for a great number of Team 5 Million, if not nearly all. It is abundantly clear; giving up means we allow people – young and old – to die.

Who get’s to draw the ‘short straw’?

This afternoon, took a call from one of my clients, “D”. He’s anxious and just needed a supportive voice. A few minutes of casual chit-chat and he’s fine. I confirm I’ll catch up with him at our appointed time tomorrow afternoon. “D” is reassured and sounds happy.

“D” is one of many New Zealanders with underlying conditions. It is doubtful he could survive Delta.

This evening, chatted with my partner. It’s now two weeks since we’ve seen each other: we have separate ‘bubbles’.  We share our weekly activities and discuss our respective ‘bubbles’, work, family. There is no grizzling; no complaining; it is unspoken what needs to be done.

Later tonight, went back to Pak n Save to buy a few groceries – including six rolls of toilet paper (I know, I’m such a hoarder!). Double masked and scanned in. Nearly everyone seemed to be scanning-in and wore masks – except, again, a woman in her mid-to-late-twenties. Not many people present; the aisles are relatively clear. Easy to maintain social distancing.

Just before I’m about to log off, I spot this article written by Stuff writer,

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It’s a great way to end the day and prepare for Monday.

Back to work in the new morning.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 511

Cases in ICU: 2

Number of deaths: –

So ended the twelfth day of our journey to beat this thing.

 

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References

Stuff media: Covid-19 outbreak situation report – What happened on Saturday, August 28

RNZ: Sunday Morning

RNZ: Sunday Morning – The Weekend Panel with Mike Williams and Linda Clark

Stuff media: During Covid, spare a thought for our leaders’ mental health

Stuff media: Covid-19 NZ – Delta outbreak sees 83 new cases, worst day of outbreak yet

RNZ: Covid-19 update –  83 new community cases reported in New Zealand

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11

For Reference

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

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Acknowledgement: Emma Cook

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11

29 August 2021 7 comments

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27 August: Day 10 of living in lock-down… (cont’d)

The park n ride at my local railway station had only two vehicles. As the lockdown proceeded, the number of parked cars became fewer and fewer.

The weather worsened. There would be few strollers and joggers, hopefully, out and about.

Traffic on the motorway around Lower Hutt; about half a dozen cars. Commercial vehicles were much in evidence, including a gas cylinder truck;  firewood truck with a covered full load; “Wellington Electric” truck carrying a power pole; gravel hauling truck; car-transporter carrying three vehicles; et al. Police presence on the roads was also noticeable.

On RNZ’s 9AM news bulletin, a story about a woman complaining bitterly that her Function Room business could not open whilst shopping malls were allowed. Not sure what Alternative Reality she’s from, but nearly all shops whether in Malls or not, are closed during Level 4. More entitlement.

At the Wellington Evans Bay Marina, there was on-going evidence that campervans and housetrucks were still moving about.

The first two appear to be staying put:

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But it’s not all bad news. (We get sufficient amount of that from the msm and the hacks that are passed of as “informed commentators”.)

Building sites and roadworks, in the main, appeared to be adhering to lockdown more than any other commercial activities aside from retailing. Just a few from Wellington’s eastern suburbs:

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Miramar “Cutting” roadworks

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Building site, Rongotai Rd

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Building site, Evans Bay Pde

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Building site, Onepu Rd

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There were many more sites, left temporarily abandoned as builders and road workers respected the need to isolate and stay home.

By afternoon, the weather had turned drizzly, with a cold wind and heavy cloud. A few joggers braved the miserable, gray day on Oriental Bay but otherwise it was deserted.

The evening was busy, work-wise and I again missed listening to RNZ’s “Checkpoint” or television news bulletins. Again, my evening was less stressful not having to listen to whatever  nay-sayer “experts”;  business whingers; and political opportunists msm news-producers had scraped from the bottom of the news-cycle barrel.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 347

Cases in ICU: 1

Number of deaths: –

So ended the tenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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28 August: Day 11 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 347

Cases in ICU:  1

Number of deaths: –

Morning started with usual; coffee; breakfast; coffee; and then settling down to watch Newshubs “The Nation“, hosted by TV3’s Head Prefect, Simon Shepherd.

When “The Nationstwitter feed announced “experts”:

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– a sense of unease struck me. Which self-interested business heads; ambitious political vultures; untrained commentators, had they lined up to spew their depressing “concerns”?

I was pleasantly surprised.

The show’s producers had indeed lined up real experts. Medical, sciencey; epidemiological – people who had spent years, if not decades, understanding the microscopic menace we faced.:

  • Professor Michael Plank
  • Professor Michael Baker
  • Professor Quentin Grafton

They were a pleasant contrast to the stream of bullshit we’ve been subjected to, from NewstalkZB (Aotearoa’s wannabe FoxTV); NZ Herald, to even the state-broadcaster, Radio NZ.

The latter has been indulging in a depressing orgy of scraping self-appointed “experts” and commentators from around Aotearoa New Zealand to overseas.:

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The above article was penned by Marc Daalder.  He is not described as a Health reporter:

“Marc Daalder is a senior political reporter based in Wellington who covers Covid-19, climate change, energy, primary industries, technology and the far-right”

The story itself is categorised under “Politics”.

Which begs the obvious question: why is a pandemic reported by a political journalist? Do we see Health reporters writing stories on the share market?

When did a medical-health crisis become political? (In the US, UK, Brazil, et al, covid has indeed become politicised – usually at the behest of the Right.)

I look forward to seeing a motoring journalist reporting on flower arrangement at the next flower-show. Or vice versa. Both are equally ridiculous.

Micky Savage writing for The Standard analysed some of the media stories and media response to criticisms made of material presented to the public. It is well worth reading.

He referred to Andrea Vance’s defensiveness in a recent story published for Stuff media where she complains bitterly how unfairly the public have been treating the msm and journos:

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Ms Vance is being disingenuous.

The criticisms of the mainstream media (msm) have, by and large, not been targetted at their scrutiny of the government. This blogger himself has written countless blogposts highly criticical of aspects of government MIQ policies.

The criticism from the public – which is  how she dismissively describes as “us vs them’ group think mentality” -has been largely focused on the media’s willingness to platform a pale-yellow stream of negative opinions framed as expert commentary. Every single day, we are presented with carping businesspeople and commentators, often from overseas, with little or no medical or science training.

The response of the public has been one of exasperation at this negativity. That negativity is a covert denigration of us and our willingness to temporarily sacrifice our liberty for the greater good. The platforming of nay-sayers in our media – especially from overseas where the horrifically high death toll from covid19 has been tragic – is undermining and pointless.

No one in the msm has yet explained what benefit we get when a professor from the United Kingdom – current death toll 132,376 – is platformed and given airtime to effectively suggest we’re all idiots for pursuing an elimination strategy.

That exasperation from the public is every bit  “freedom of expression” as she demands for herself and her colleagues.

The media do not get a free pass from the public’s scrutiny that the media themselves exact on politicians.

The propensity of non-commercial, public broadcaster, RNZ to platform negative opinions as faux “expert commentators” has been noticed on social media. The response has not been good for the  broadcaster, going by comments after this post I made:

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Other observations have been in a similar vein.

When RNZ has reported rational comments as from Dr Richard Webby – an infectious disease researcher working at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee, US – the headline was less than helpful – and more tabloid-flavour:

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At least it was in the “Health” category.

The medical experts on Saturday’s “Nation” was contrasted by the jarring comments by Westland mayor and possibly deranged individual, Bruce Smith. His bizarre comments raised a storm of angry criticism on social media.

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His remark that covid19 was “no worse than polio” would have been met with 5 million slippers thrown at the TV screen.

No doubt next time Mr Smith is feeling unwell, he will seek medical advice from his mortgage broker.

By contrast, the medically-trained and sane human being, Professor Quentin Grafton, had a very simple and coherent response to “Plan Bers” like Mr Smith:

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To repeat:

“… Living with the virus means dying with the virus.”

How lucky does Mr Smith and his ilk feel?

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By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 429

Cases in ICU: 2

Number of deaths: –

So ended the tenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

Stuff media: Covid-19 – 70 new cases in Delta community outbreak, total now 347, one person in ICU

Twitter: The Nation – experts – 27 August 2021

RNZ: Covid-19 lockdown – Ardern struggles to give New Zealand certainty

Stuff media: If the Government is making the right decisions on Covid-19, it will withstand scruntiny

RNZ: Covid-19 – UK-based critic on New Zealand’s exit strategy

Worldmeter: UK Covid Death Toll

Twitter: @fmacskasy – RNZ – 28/8/21

Twitter: @nealejones – state of New Zealand’s media – 25/8/21

RNZ: Dr Richard Webby – ‘We’ll all catch Covid-19 eventually’

Newshub: Coronavirus – Westland Mayor Bruce Smith sick of hearing from health experts about COVID-19, wants business leaders to have more say

Twitter: @Tim_McCreadyBruce Smith10.23AM  28/8/21

Newshub: Coronavirus – What 59 essential workers testing positive means for elimination

Stuff media: Covid-19 outbreak situation report – What happened on Saturday, August 28

Additional

Gizmodo: New Zealand Pursues Covid-Zero as Right-Wing Idiots Lose Their Minds

Other Blogs

The Standard: Covid and the media

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

For Reference

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

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Acknowledgement: Tom Scott

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

27 August 2021 8 comments

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26 August: Day 9 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 210

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

A fine day, cloudy but warm. 

Five cars at the railway station park and ride. Traffic seemed lighter than previous days, with about six to eight vehicles in sight at the Melling interchange.

There will be no further listing of branded commercial vehicles. Previous blogposts have given a ‘flavour’ of the wide-range of commercial and public service vehicles that were traversing the main roads from Hutt Valley to Wellington.

However, spotted were three firewood trucks (one branded “Chopps”) and two gas-cylinder trucks; a small campervan heading northalong SH2 north of  Ngauranga Gorge interchange;  a car transporter (not carrying any cars) flat-deck truck; a tow truck towing one car and carrying a second on its deck; a Fulton Hogan light-arrow truck with usual cargo of orange road-cones; and a couple of police cars.

The sighting of police cars is noteworthy. Last year’s lockdown was notable for the near-total absence of police vehicles on our Wellington-Hutt Valley roads. This time they appear to be out in force.

It is unclear if their focus is on speedsters and issuing infringement notices, or perhaps more critically, monitoring potential breaches of the lockdown.

By 10AM the weather had turned inclement. A good sign to keep folk away (hopefully) from popular public walkways along the harbour front.

Meanwhile, activity continued to be apparent at Evans Bay marina carpark. Campervans were obviously coming and going, or moving about and returning to different parking spotspots, as the following images demonstrate.

Comparing 20 August with today, six days later later:

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Let’s hope none of these travellers spread Delta as they are moving about. For these folk, it seems to be life-as-usual.

I recommend educating these folk on Delta Covid. If that fails, wheel clamps.

With pressures of work well into the evening I missed listening to RNZ’s “Checkpoint” and haven’t watched recorded episodes of TV1 or TV3 news bulletins. Surprisingly, my head seemed clearer and calmer.

Not listening to a torrent of “news” stories comprising of whining entitlement from businesses having to close; so-called “experts” who decry the government’s  and people’s efforts to stop the spread of Delta; and Opposition politicians who have their own agendas – I think I’ll sleep well tonight.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 277

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the ninth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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27 August: Day 10 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 277

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

A good night’s sleep. Woke up to an overcast day and starting to drizzle.

Sadly, the positive mind-set didn’t last long.

RNZ’s “Morning Report” featured two stories, one after another:

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The first story, at 8.43AM, featured Susie Ferguson interviewing clinical psychologist, Karen Nimmo on the stresses and anxiety people were feeling during the current lockdown.

Cited as reasons were:

“…it’s mid-winter”

“…the novelty factor has been stripped out”

“…we’ve got uncertainty”

“…the same old thing”

“…feeling flat”

“…feeling fatigued”

“…people jammed together in flats”

“…not warm flats”

“…boredom”

“…pressure cooker with flatmates and kids”

“…lonely”

I wasn’t entirely convinced.

Lo and behold, the reason why I wasn’t convinced came approximately a few minutes later. 

Ms Ferguson was followed by her colleague, Corin Dann interviewing Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine from the UK University of East Anglia.

It was another critic of Aotearoa New Zealand’s strategy to eradicate and keep covid19 from our shores. The five minute 38 seconds long interview was a confusing, incoherent mess of poorly-thought through “reckons” by a supposed foreign “expert.

Questions abound as to why RNZ thought it worthwhile to interview this man.

I listened to him. I pondered his answers to Mr Dann’s probing questions. I considered what point he was trying to make.

I still cannot fathom what he was trying to say. Because at the end of the interview, Professor Hunter then finished by endorsing our elimination strategy:

“Yes, carry on at the moment trying to stop it spreading.”

Which leaves unanswered questions about who, at RNZ, thought it was a good idea to platform this person?

What was the point of yet more criticism and undermining of our eradication policy?

What did RNZ hope that listeners would learn?

How did it help us?

How did it further our collective efforts to contain and remove this deadly virus from our midst and save many lives?

What was the purpose of it?

And how many more of the thousands of nay-sayers and self-appointed experts has RNZ lined up to beat us over our collective head with?

If anyone at RNZ can offer even a wee glimmer of light on the rationale for this depressing interview, I will be fascinated to know it.

I will send my questions to RNZ and hope for an answer.

But in answer to Dr Nimmo, she left out one of the culprits for stresses and anxieties which some (or many) of us in Team 5 Million may be feeling:

“…a constant mainstream media diet of debilitating “news” and “reckons” which belittles and undermines our resolve and leave us wondering if our efforts are actually really worthwhile”

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By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 347

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the tenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

TVNZ: Covid community cases reach 210, most in Auckland

RNZ: Covid-19 lockdown day 9 – How it unfolded

RNZ: Covid-19 – Clinical pyschologist on getting through lockdown

RNZ: Covid-19 – UK-based critic on New Zealand’s exit strategy

Twitter: Neale Jones – state of New Zealand’s media – 25/8/21

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 70 new community cases reported in NZ today

Additional

Gizmodo: New Zealand Pursues Covid-Zero as Right-Wing Idiots Lose Their Minds

Other Blogs

The Standard: The mysterious socialist hermit kingdom

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

For Reference

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

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Acknowledgement: Sharon Murdoch (ft National Party)

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

25 August 2021 9 comments

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24 August: Day 7 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 107

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

A cool,  grey, overcast, morning. This is a good start. Unpleasant weather deters people from taking strolls along crowded, popular walkways such as Oriental Bay Parade. As mentioned in previous diary entries, most do not wear facemasks and joggers run past pedestrians, breathing hard all about them.

The possibility that one of these is carrying Delta, running through unmasked strollers puffing virus with each laboured breath, does not bear thinking about. The inescapable irony; a healthy activity that could land many people in hospital…

At my local urban park n ride railway station there are three cars parked. Yesterday there were four.

It is deathly quiet. No wind, very little traffic around my streets.

But noticeable on the main roads are plenty of commercial vehicles. Just some spotted; “Intergroup” street-sweeping truck; “Bidfoods” truck parked by a Dairy; “Wellington SCL” van; “Newshub” stationwagon parked on SH2 roadside; “Greater Wellington Regional Council” ute; a gravel-haulage truck; “Noel Leeming” truck; “Drain Doctor” van; “Arb Innovations” ute; “Global Welding Supplies” hatchback; red “NZ Courier” van; “Waste Management” soft-sided truck; a glaziers van; “Bidfresh” soft-sided light truck; a ute marked “Filtec”; “Crown Lift” truck; “PBT” courier van; “Coca Cola” soft-sided truck; a firewood light truck; “Mainfreight” double tandem heavy truck; a large heavy flat-deck truck, empty; an “Owens” truck bearing a container; a “Downer” van; “Waste Management” truck; green “Toll” van; two green gravel-haulage trucks; “Pacific” fuel tanker truck; “Morepork” truck carrying a light ‘bobcat’ digger; “NZ Couriers” heavy truck; van marked “Proflow Plumbing and Gas Solutions”; “PBT” courier van; “Mainstream” soft-sided truck; “Jets” soft-sided truck; white van marked “High Rise”; black SUV marked “One News”; van marked “Plumbing World”; light truck, “Service Foods”; ute marked “kiwirail”; black ute, “Chill”; black hatchback, “Spark”; soft-sided truck, “Booths Transport Ltd”; ute, “Jennian”; van, “Wasabe Group”; van, “Chorus; two “Coundown” food delivery trucks; et al.

There were many other commercial vehicles whose markings could not be easily determined. The list above is perhaps a quarter  of commercial vehicles sighted.

The two heavy diggers spotted over the last few days, and reported on yesterday were operating:

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Their support vehicles parked nearby:

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Despite considerable commercial vehicles present, traffic volumes on SH2 was light, around three to four vehicles at any one time. Traffic density increased approaching Melling Interchange, with around a dozen vehicles present at Belmont/Kelson.

By Petone, the over-cast skies had become a light drizzle with temperature cooling.

At the automated BP Fuel station on SH2, workmen and heavy commercial vehicles were again operating today.

Around the northern suburbs, it began to rain heavily by mid-morning and the weather had become colder. This would hopefully motivate people to stay home and not cluster at popular walkways.

In the late evening, there were roadworks just south of the automated BP Fuel station on SH2, in the northbound lane. A crew comprising of three light-arrow trucks; some other heavy vehicles, and workmen on-site. Nothing quite says banal normality during a deadly pandemic crisis than roadworks.

The day finished on a jarring note.

Not the pandemic. Not the grim news that there were 41 new covid cases today.

Not that our cuzzies in New South Wales had another terrible day of increased covid numbers.

These were indeed bad news stories.  But the thing that was depressing came from our own media.

Mainstream media had finally ramped up it’s stories from carping quarters.

Radio NZ’s “Checkpoint” led off with an interview with serial-whinger and business-at-any-cost lobbyist, Auckland Chamber of Commerce CEO, Michael Barnett.

Unchallenged by host, Lisa Owen, the two carried on a five-minute long moan as to why supermarkets were allowed to operate but butchers, greengrocers, bottlestores, et al, were forced to close. It was a frustrating example of child-like entitlement and neither understood the crisis that New South Wales was now in because retailers were allowed to open at will.

For Barnett, it was a simplistic situation where he suggested:

“I think that’s to hard to define… I think what you should do is give me the conditions under which I can operate. And if I can operate a butchery, or bakery, or a supermarket under those conditions then I should be able to do it. If I can do it, I can do it one on one and contactless, and if that’s the rule, that’s what I should be able to do.”

When Ms Owen asked Barnett to define safety parameters, he replied glibly:

“Absolutely, It’s health and safety. We’ve got to comply with that. Set those parameters, set the conditions which I can operate, should operate, and let me comply with that. Business is very good at doing that.”

He continued his rant:

“That’s the stupidity of the system that they’ve [government] got.”

At no point did either of them bring up the dire situation that New South Wales was in. The Australian state has failed to contain covid and the numbers of new cases each day are staggering:

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In case anyone was wondering what the differences was between New Zealand and New South Wales, these are the retailers allowed to be open during respective lockdowns:

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So New South Wales has followed Michael Barnett’s demands. Almost every retailer is open to trade. Their covid cases have exploded as well.

To date, the death toll for New South Wales is 128. For Victoria, the death toll is 820. For Australia, the combined death toll is:

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Ours remains at 26.

Remember Barnett’s assertion:

“If I can do it, I can do it one on one and contactless, and if that’s the rule, that’s what I should be able to do… Set those parameters, set the conditions which I can operate, should operate, and let me comply with that. Business is very good at doing that.”

Retail Meat New Zealand spokesperson, Kit Arkwright, also echoed Barnett’s demands to open up retailing:

“If we could provide click and collect at our front door on the high street like most butchers are placed, I think that would be a pretty practical step in the right direction.

An eftpos machine at the front door and an open environment on the high street I can’t see to many risks there.”

But other businesses have disclosed they cannot ensure public safety. On compulsory QR scanning, Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) spokesperson Alan McDonald was explicit:

“If you make it compulsory then that implies somebody has go to enforce this thing and if you’re looking at particularly small businesses … that’s putting a lot of onus on the owner or people running the store to perhaps front somebody who doesn’t necessarily want to scan in.”

And Retail NZ chief executive, Greg Harford was equally clear:

“It’s not a retailer’s job to be enforcing the rules, whether it’s contact tracing or mask use – it’s just really not what we’re there for, and I think you get pretty good levels of compliance from the public on these sorts of things anyway.”

So much for Barnett’s glib and meaningless assurances that “business is very good at doing that.”

To be clear, Barnett is advocating nothing more than “all-care-but-no-responsibility”. And no responsibility for inevitable deaths should we follow his lunatic demands.

The man’s sole motive is money, not keeping people alive.

And shame on RNZ, “Checkpoint“, and other mainstream media for platforming him without robustly challenging him and exploring the consequences of his demands.

There was more whinging and demands for “certainty” and “clarity” from the South Island – again helpfully platformed and amplified by a mainstream media eager for clicks.

Sadly, the juvenile whingefest on RNZ was not alone. TV1 News today led with not one; not; two, but three noisy critics with their own agendas. Let us be crystal clear: those agendas are not focused on our well-being.

The constant flow of carping is not a matter of “free speech”. Aotearoa New Zealand is facing a deadly pandemic that, to date, has killed 4.44 million people world-wide (certainly an under-reported figure); flooded hospitals with covid patients; created a syndrome of on-going suffering called “Long Covid”; and dragged away resources from other healthcare priorities.

To defeat covid, all New Zealanders must work collectively.  The alternative is clear for us to see in India, Brazil, United States, Britain, Fiji, and closer to home, Australia.

The discordant voices from business lobbyists concerned with their profit-taking or Opposition party-leaders (yes, Ms Collins and Mr Seymour, I’m referring to you both) vying for votes, distracts us from what should be our collective responsibilities to help one another.

We should all be pulling in the same direction. But when noisy business people and ambitious, irresponsible, political leaders appear to be pulling in opposing directions, it becomes apparent that the virus has allies – or “useful idiots” –  in our midst.

For the rest of the week, I will be reducing watching or listening to mainstream media.  Yes, that includes RNZ’s “Checkpoint” and possibly “Morning Report“. Too much amplified crazy bleating during a global disaster just does one’s head in.

And as a community worker, I want my head clear to focus on my clients. Not with the clamourings of business-sotted death-merchants and those aspiring to be the next Prime Minister.

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By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 148

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

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25 August: Day 8 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 148

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

Another fine day, cool, breezy, but sunny. Just when we needed it the most, the stormy weather that battered the country the last couple of months seems to have subsided.

Four cars only at the local park n ride railway station.

Road traffic seemed decidedly heavier than the last few days. Noticed on the roads; a “Driving Miss Daisy” hatchback; a ute towing a trailer filled with cut firewood; ute marked “Plimmer Plumbing; white van marked “KPC Laundry Hire Services”; “Downer”; “X Couriers”; a high-sided open truck carrying a full load of cut firewood; “Fliway” truck; gray van, “Patch and Paint”; “Eurofins” marked SUV; gravel-hauling truck, “Downer”; gray ute, “Gemco”; white van marked “Bottle-O – Stokes Valley”; a police car racing north with flashing lights; another firewood-laden truck; “KAMS” large soft-sided truck; white van, “Initial”; “K&M” truck carrying a container; glass-glazing truck; “Fliway” truck; “Kiwirail” ute; “Envirowaste” truck; gray “Poste Haste” van; a truck carrying gas cylinders; a ute at the side of the road, “John Everiss”; a container-laden truck, “PBT”; a soft-sided truck, “Owens”; heavy truck, “Big Chill Distributors”; heavy truck, “Goodman Fielder”; a rental van, “Budget”; a van, “Jones Services”; a soft-sided, double-tandem truck, “Mainstream”; a rental van, “Hirepool”; double-tandem truck, “Toll”; yellow van, “Abe’s Bagels”; white van, “AEL Electrical”; truck, “Fliway”; “Downer” roadworks truck, laden with ubiquitous orange road cones; “Newshub” ute; two black cars, “Recon Security”; ute marked “Treescape”; police car parked-up by Jville “McDonalds”, on the round-a-bout; truck, “Ablaze Landscaping”; dumpster truck, “Downer”; truck, “WheelieBin”; truck, “New World”; car-transporter laden with three cars; truck, “K&M”; another police car with flashing lights; soft-sided truck truck, “Pak N Save”;  van, “Chorus”; van, “A to Z Flooring”; “Bidfood” truck; “Rinnai Service” van; “New World” truck; “Apparel Line” truck; police car, flashing lights, heading south on SH2; empty stock-truck; “L.G. Anderson” truck; another “L.G. Anderson” truck, laden with a container; flat-deck ute, “Aurora”; a suction-tanker truck marked “Southey’s Hydro Excavation”; an ambulance; another police car; another ambulance; a “Poste Haste” van; flat-deck truck, “Zoo”; truck, “Groundworks”; “K&M” truck; trucked marked “Firewood” (in very large letters!) with a large, full load; van, “JMAC”; van marked “Tungsten Electrical”; green van, “Toll”; truck carrying a digger, “Treescape”; black van, “Blackwell Plumbing”; van marked “Bottle-O”; car, “SCL Wellington”; van, “Chorus”; van, “Battery Service”; van marked “ABS”; truck, “Bidfood”; truck, “Jets”; double tandem truck, “Mainfreight”; truck laden with orange roadcones, marked “Hirepool”; van, “Postehaste”; van bearing “Streets” ice cream advertising; an ambulance; flat-deck truck marked “AA Vehicle Recovery”; tanker truck, “Northfuels”; et al.

As mentioned previously, there were many other commercial vehicles whose markings could not be easily determined. The list above is indicative only.

Commercial and residential traffic this late-morning was decidedly heavier than at any time since lockdown began. Without knowing that Delta was currently present in Aotearoa New Zealand, the level of commercial traffic on the roads certainly did not reflect our current emergency.

This blogger counted at least a dozen vehicles visible in the vicinity of SH58 interchange.

Riverbed work on the Hutt River was continuing unabated;

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Stopped at Melling red traffic lights, there were four vehicle in front and adjacent to me: all commercial.

Work had ceased at the automated BP service station south of Petone; all vehicles and workers had gone.

Two businesses appeared to be open to the public and trading:

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After some navigating around government ministeries and a phone call to a very helpful (and delightful!) operator, I was directed to the appropriate covid19 website to lodge a query/compliance compaint to investigate these two businesses.

It’s not a lockdown if people and businesses aren’t complying. Delta covid appreciates helpful people who take the piss.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 210

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the seventh and eighth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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Meanwhile, in an unfortunate juxtaposition of names, the singer vs the virus…

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References

RNZ: Live – Covid-19 updates on day 6 of lockdown

Newshub: New South Wales records staggering 478 local COVID-19 cases, eight deaths

RNZ: Covid-19 in NSW – State records 830 new cases

Newshub: COVID-19 – New South Wales records 818 new local community cases, three deaths

9News: NSW records 753 cases

9News: NSW records 919 new COVID-19 cases as state awaits incentives reveal

RNZ: Michael Barnett criticises essential business criteria

Stuff media: How New Zealand’s level 4 compares to NSW’s ‘strict’ Covid-19 lockdown

RNZ: Retail Meat NZ fears some butchers won’t survive extended lockdown

Stuff media: Covid-19 – QR code scanning too difficult for businesses to enforce if mandated – EMA

RNZ: South Island businesses want clarity over lockdown duration

Newsroom: The complexities of a ‘mask mandate’

RNZ:  As it happened – Covid-19 updates on day 7 of lockdown – everything you need to know

Newshub: Coronavirus – Judith Collins won’t say how many COVID-19 deaths would be ‘acceptable’ number to live with

TVNZ: Extended lockdown hurting struggling events industry

Twitter: Neale Jones – state of New Zealand’s media – 25/8/21

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

TVNZ: Covid community cases reach 210, most in Auckland

Additional

TVNZ: New Covid modelling reveals grim prospects if vaccination rate is not 90%

TVNZ: Michael Baker – Covid elimination strategy allows NZ to ‘choose our future’

Other Blogs

Pundit: The Lucky Lockdown? Is This The Kick In The Butt NZ Needs?

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

For Reference

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

 

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Acknowledgement: Peter Bromhead

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

24 August 2021 10 comments

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22 August: Day 5 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 51

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

Another day spent at home.

Morning; breakfast of low-sugar muesli and watch the eternally-young, but deceptively-capable Jack Tame on Q+A. First interviews Chris Hipkins who makes comments almost suggesting we will have to “live with covid19” at some time. The comments set of a flurry of media and social media speculation.

Jack Tame suggests we might’ve offered a “premium” to pharmaceutical companies to acquire their vaccines. Chris Hipkins replies that government has never offered a premium to jump the queue.

Rightly so. The suggestion is repellent. I would want no part of it.

And on a practical level, we’d be outbid every time by countries wealthier than us. In a “rule of the jungle”, Aotearoa New Zealand would lose every time.

Tampa survivor  and refugee from Afghanistan, Abbas Nazari, is interviewed. Mr Nazari is incredibly personable and articulate. There is something incredibly compelling about his insights. I can’t help but wonder if, in an Alternative Universe, he might’ve been a natural leader in his country of birth.

He is Afghanistan’s deepest loss and Aotearoa’s gain.

After Q+A I don’t go out. No groceries are needed (I don’t do the toilet paper hoarding thing) and there’s plenty to do around the house.

Listening to RNZ as I catch up on things I’ve been planning to do; assemble shelving for memorabilia displays; repairing items in my “breakages box” that I’ve been meaning to get around to for a while; strip bed; laundry; give cat cuddles; vacuum; change kitty-litter; dusting… the day fills with tasks I’ve no excuses to not do.

In the early evening; dinner; phone my work colleagues regarding rostered shifts and maintaining work ‘bubbles’. My throat has developed a minor soreness that becomes more noticeable as I’m chatting with my colleague. The soreness subsides later that night. Troubling…

I watch “One Land Bridge“, noting the weirdness that is so redolent of David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks“.

I chat with my partner on the phone and we share our weekend experiences. We have separate ‘bubbles’ because of my community work and extended ‘bubble’ that goes with it.

I’m feeling unusually tired and go to bed after chatting with my partner. Work tomorrow and I start early for a long day.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 72

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

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23 August: Day 6 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 72

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

I wake up feeling like crap. Fuzzy headed and lethargic. I have breakfast, shower, and prepare for work. I wait for the unwellness to subside.

Driving down along SH2, known informally as the “River Road”, I park my car by the roadside. Nearby, there are workers on two massive diggers with flashing yellow “alert” lights in the middle of the river and pushed-up mounds of rock.

I still don’t feel better. I phone the covid line (0800 358 5453). It’s not much help, I can’t get through. I phone the Healthline (0800 611 116) and I’m answered promptly. I relate my symptoms to the person on the line; she takes down my details; advises me a nurse will get back to me shortly. I thank her.

I hang up. My attention is drawn back to the men on the diggers. Should they be operating during a Level 4 lockdown? How is river works essential?

The number of commercial vehicles on the River Road is noticeable. If Delta spreads, businesses that continue to operate may likely be spreaders of this virus. Their occupants appear to travel widely throughout the Wellington region.

I take several photos with my smartphone.

First, an all-but-deserted SH2 River Road. There are no more than half a dozen vehicle on the road at any one time:

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The two diggers, atop mounds of re-arranged river rock:

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Do I carry on to work? Should I even be on the road?

I start my car and head south along SH2. The SH58 interchange comes into view and I make an immediate decision; head up the interchange on-ramp; veer right around the the roundabout and head back north. I’m going home. I shouldn’t’ve left my house in the first place; my thinking is that fuzzy.

Back home I phone and advise my manager.

The nurse phones me back later. She ‘interrogates’ my symptoms. I ask if I need covid testing. She replies; not at this stage, but if my condition worsens I’m to get down to a testing station. She advises rest, plenty of fluids, and paracetamol if I have it. I thank her for her help.

I take the paracetamol tablets, noting I need to buy more. Sleep.

A little later, waking, my head is clearer than before. Still a bit fuzzy, but not as bad as before. I phone Greater Wellington Regional Council, intrigued at the riverwork I’ve been witnessing on Friday and today. The receptionist take my details, and promises someone will call me back.

True to their work, “M.B.” phones me back from GWRC.

M.B. advises that the river work has been designated as “essential” and that it is permitted activity. He says the shifting of rock is necessary to “defend” river banks that’ve been scoured out by torrential flow after recent heavy rains. Riverbank walkways are threatened with collapse if left un-remediated.

M.B. explains the work was stalled last week because of more heavy rain – hence why work men were not on scene until last Friday.

M.B. reassures me that the workers are in their own “work bubble” and not interacting with the public.  Similar work is also being carried out further south at Pōmare, where river bank scouring has exposed (or threatening to expose) gas pipes. (Question: who builds gas pipes so close to a river?!) “Essential work” is also planned for Moonshine Park, along the river bank. Another riverbank walkway is also threatened.

I thank M.B. for returning my call and offering answers to my questions.

I’m still a bit fuzzy-headed and don’t question M.B. any further.

However, if river works are “essential work”, other businesses may reasonably question why they are missing out and not deemed “essential” as well.

Let’s hope M.B. is reflecting an accurate picture and the workers are keeping to a strict work bubble. A collapsed walkway can be repaired. Lives damaged by Delta Covid, not so easily.

Later in the night, I’m feeling better. If this was nothing more than a head cold, it was the first one since August last year.

But not surprising. The flutracker website has reported a recent upsurge in flulike symptoms:

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A reminder that covid19 isn’t the only virus floating around, waiting to ‘hitch a ride’ in our warm breeding grounds that we call our bodies.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 107

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the fifth and sixth days of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 21 new community cases in New Zealand today

RNZ: Covid-19 lockdown day 5 – How it unfolded

TVNZ: Q+A – Aucklanders told to prepare for more time in lockdown

TVNZ: Q+A – Tampa survivor on why New Zealand must again open doors to Afghanistan refugees

Flutracker: Weekly Interim Report New Zealand

RNZ: Live – Covid-19 updates on day 6 of lockdown

Twitter: Richard Hills – Ardern won’t regret helping save thousands of lives

Recommended Reading

The Guardian: The Covid crisis suits rightwing media personalities as they monetise fear

Additional

Wikipedia: COVID-19 pandemic death rates by country

Other blogs

The Standard: Matt King caught blowing anti vaccination dog whistle

Previous related blogposts    

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

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Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

21 August 2021 13 comments

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21 August: Day 4 of living in lock-down…

No report from this blogger of what has been happening around the Wellington region. Being a day off, I am staying at home. Plenty of housework and reading to catch up on.

Meanwhile…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 31

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

Today’s Eyebrow-Raiser.

Caretaker Leader Judith Collins on pointless sniping from the sidelines

“I think we’re very wise to sit back and wait a little while before we go charging into full Opposition mode.

I think one of the problems we have is if people see us as constantly sniping away from the sidelines and not putting up very good policies… then we’ll go the way of traditional Opposition which is further down, and that’s not something we want to do.”

Also Caretaker Leader Judith Collins, on the sidelines

“We are in lockdown because the government did not act with urgency to protect New Zealanders. Their complacency and inability to ensure supply and delivery of the vaccine roll-out has left New Zealanders as sitting ducks; completely vulnerable to the Delta variant when it inevitably got into the community.

It is not enough for the prime minister to lock us in our homes and speak from the podium once a day. New Zealanders don’t need sermons, we need vaccines in arms right now.”

She just can’t help herself.

At a time when we are facing an even worse crisis with a vastly more transmissable mutation of covid – the Delta Strain – the nation needs calm leadership. Sniping from the sidelines is a distraction already-stressed New Zealanders will not welcome, nor thank.

Let’s not forget that the Delta Strain came from Sydney.

Let’s not forget who put pressure on the government to open a Trans Tasman “bubble” with a petition.

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Let’s not forget who seems to have conveniently forgotten that petition.

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She got what she wanted. The consequences were inevitable. Now she’s sniping from the sidelines the government isn’t cleaning up the mess she – in part – is responsible for.

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#CaretakerLeaderCollins

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By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 51

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the fourth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 11 new cases in the community, including three in Wellington

Newshub: Judith Collins wants National to avoid ‘constantly sniping away from the sidelines’ as it rebuilds

RNZ: Covid-19 – National criticises government’s handling of latest outbreak

Newsroom: Sydney returnee likely source of Covid outbreak

National Party: Sign the Trans Tasman bubble petition

Twitter: Judith Collins – Trans Tasman Bubble Petition

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 21 new community cases in New Zealand today

Previous related blogposts

National: Demand the Debate. Also National: No, not like that!

Judith Collins and National: It’s a trust thing

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cartoon judith collins

Acknowledgment: Sharon Murdoch

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

21 August 2021 13 comments

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20 August: Day 3 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 22

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

The day began sunny and near-cloudless sky. It was warming up. Not good, I thought with dread: fine days bring out the people for casual strolls on the beachfront; joggers; bike riders, dog walkers; et al. Most without face-masks, judging by yesterday’s observations on Oriental and Evans Bays.

By late morning, the sky filled with gray clouds; the temperature plummeted; and it began spitting with rain.

Perversely, my spirit lifted. People were less inclined to wander out and about in bad weather and – hopefully – would instead remain home.

The drive into Wellington to begin my work-day confirmed that the weather was worsening; the gentle ‘spit’ became a light drizzle.

There were fewer cars parked at the local railway station park-n-ride – only five today. In my immediate urban area there were even fewer cars on the road than yesterday. It was resembling last year’s lockdown.

On the highway I observed trucks marked PBT, “Lowcost Bins”; van marked “The Drain Doctor”; an “Armourguard” van; “Waste Management” jumbo-bin truck (unladen); “Postehaste” courier van; white van marked “Precision”; a light-truck carrying gas cylinders; a van marked “HydrauLink”; van marked “Initial”; a “Moore Wilsons” truck; another “Waste Management” truck; a ute marked “Groundforce”; a “Hirepool” truck, with driver and passenger, parked up at Belmont, carrying a portacom toilet; a “L.G. Anderson” marked truck; a yellow soft-sided truck (“Pak n Save”?)’; an unladen flat deck truck with a hi-ab; a soft-side truck marked “Countdown”;  a “Mitre 10 – Crofton Downs” truck carrying building materials; another “L.G. Anderson” flat-deck truck carrying a container; an ambulance; “Hirepool” truck; glaziers van; a “Traffic Management” truck; “Envirowaste” truck; “Waste Management” truck; “Provida Refrigerated Logistics” truck; “Kiwi Express” courier van; “L.G. Andrerson” flat deck truck, empty; “Dixon Dunlop” gravel truck, apparently empty; a police ute just north of Wellington; a “Toll” marked truck; “Dawson’s Waste” Pumping truck; two utes marked “Vertex”, carrying scaffold gear; a “Linfox” tanker;  “Onestop Plumbing & Gas” van (parked up); another police car in Miramar;  and many more which this blogger could not determine their company markings.

There was rock-dredging taking place in the Hutt River adjacent to SH2 “River Road” by two heavy digging-machines. Operations to rearrange the river-bed seemed to have returned to “normal” during an abnormal period. Has the Wellington Regional Council sanctioned this work?

By Melling, traffic was still light; lighter than the last few days.

At the automated BP Service station, on SH2 north of Ngauranga, there were workmen present again with several heavy vehicles.  Whatever work they were engaged in seemed unaffected by the nationwide lockdown order.

Out in the harbour, the freighter from yesterday was still anchored out in the choppy waters:

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One couldn’t but feel sympathy for the hapless crew aboard the ship:

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In Wellington City, few pedestrians wore face masks. But positively, there were even fewer people wandering along Oriental Bay Parade.

Update on the Marquee this blogger witnessed being erected/dismantled outside Te Papa Museum, in Cable Street yesterday:

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The Marquee had been put up. And it’s use was obvious:

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Unlike some of the commercial-construction activity this blogger was witnessing, this work was very much essential. A new covid-testing station in the city.  Just in time, for the terrible news that was just starting to break:

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Meanwhile, in the nearby Te Papa carpark,  three campervans were parked up. It remains to be seen if they will be present on Monday morning:

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At the Evans Bay Marina Campervan park, vehicles were still apparently coming and going, despite the lockdown.

At the eastern end:

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Compared to yesterday (right) with today (left):

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At the southern end:

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Compared to yesterday (right) with today (left):

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At the northern end:

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Compared to yesterday (right) with today (left):

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Parked up roadside:

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There was no change above from the image taken yesterday.

The reason this matters is not a campervan version of “trainspotting”. If these vehicles are are no longer parked-up, but are mobile, then they potentially become super-spreaders.

As the Wellingtonian who returned by car to Wellington, driving from Auckland:

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One campervan laden with occupants could easily spread the virus throughout the north island.

On 21 August, this blogger reported one of several vehicles on the motorway:

“South of Ngauranga, a white campervan was heading north. Another person taking the opportunity to treat lockdown as a personal opportunity for impromptu holiday-time?”

Where were they heading?

They are a potential, dangerous vector for spread no one has considered.

Tonight, a campervan owner at the Marina told this blogger that the Wellington City Council had lifted the 4-day maximum parking limit for vehicles during the covid emergency. There is therefore no valid justification for campervan owners to be moving around and flouting the lockdown.

Police have been notified.

Throughout the day, this blogger had occasion to visit two ‘Pak n Save’ supermarkets; one work-related on behalf of a client; the other personal. Neither were pleasant experiences.

Though supermarket staff did their best to limit numbers entering the store, the two-metre distancing rule is impossible to practice. The aisles are simply not wide enough and customers often pass each other well within a metre.

However, mask wearing was near universal. Only three customers were spotted; one with his mask slipped down; another without a mask, and wearing only a scarf which had slipped down around his neck; and a woman who responded that she “had an exemption“.

Did she also have an exemption from the Delta Covid? She didn’t say.

But they were only three of several hundred this blogger witnessed.

People entering the stores were assiduously scanning QR codes.

Dodging the Bullet – a personal note

The Ministry of Health released a list of locations of interest where covid-infected Wellingtonians, returning from Auckland, had been in the last few days.

The locations included places in suburbs around Wellington:

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As this blogger read through the list, my heart sank. Two places on Wednesday 18 August, in Johnsonville, were on a day I visit a client. The times coincided when I accompany them through Johnsonville.

Could it be that we had crossed paths with this infected  person? I could have passed him on the footpath and breathed in as he exhaled. Delta Covid is that infectious.

I felt sick in my gut.

I quickly grabbed my work diary. Checking the appointments, I found my client’s entry.

It had been crossed off.

I had been reassigned to Miramar clients instead. This was dodging the bullet on a personal level.  By reassigning me, my Manager may have inadvertently saved me and my client from becoming two more statistics.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 31

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the third day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: North Shore Hospital patient tests positive for Covid-19, emergency department closes

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak – Everything we know so far about Wellington cases

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak – Two cities, one cluster; North Island cases grow

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak – Locations of interest pass 190 – yet more expected

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 11 new cases in the community, including three in Wellington

Additional

Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MoBIE): Workplace operations at COVID-19 alert levels – Guidance for businesses at Alert Levels 2, 3 and 4

RNZ: Daily cheer – Social media content from lockdown day 3

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

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Acknowledgement: Sharon Murdoch

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2 – REVISED

20 August 2021 14 comments

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19 August: Day 2 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 10

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

Traffic today seemed marginally lighter than yesterday, with not as many obvious “tradies” on the road. The nearby railway station park-n-ride had the same number of cars as yesterday (around half a dozen).

It was a much brighter, sunnier day than yesterday and people were out and about in my suburb walking with family and dogs. Mask-wearing was not much evident.

On SH2 “River Road”, traffic was lighter than yesterday, about 6 or 8 cars visible at any time. Unlike yesterday most of the vehicles were domestic rather than commercial.

Commercial vehicles sighted; two “Traffic Management” light-arrow trucks, complete with dozens of orange cones; a “Crest Clean” van; “Silbury Roofing” ute; “First Security” hatchback; “Waste Management” truck; “Apparel Line NZ Ltd”; ute marked “Hunt”; a ute towing a bobcat; “Posthaste” courier van; a police car; “NZ Post” courier; van marked “Flooring Design”; van marked “Wellington Waterways”; container truck; a ute marked “Site Care”; a flat-deck truck carrying an over-size tractor; van marked “Chorus”; a drain-cleaning light truck; SUV marked “Collective First National” real estate; a gravel bearing truck marked “Horokiwi”; a tow-wagon carrying a ute; vabn marked “Marshall Batteries”; “HydroTech” truck; “Envirowaste” truck; another “Waste management” truck; another “Envirowaste” truck; “Allied Petroleum” double-tandem tanker-truck; “Monk Appliances” black van; ambulance past Aotea Quay; a black van marked “Plumb 2 Please”; another ambulance heading north through the Terrace Tunnel

At Petone, track building operations had ceased. Heavy construction vehicles were abandoned with no crew about.

At the automated BP Service station on SH2 there were workmen and heavy-work vehicles continuing their construction/maintenance project from yesterday.

At the Ngauranga interchange there were about ten to twelve vehicles visible in either direction. It was definitely busier than last years lockdown.

Out in the harbour, two freighters were anchored on the open water. (Later, that night, only one remained on open water.)

South of Ngauranga, a white campervan was heading north. Another person taking the opportunity to treat lockdown as a personal opportunity for impromptu holiday-time?

In Wellington, the streets were more deserted than yesterday and in the commercial/shopping precincts, most wwere wearing face-masks.

Taranaki Street, looking north:

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Taranaki Street, looking south:

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In Dixon Street, four commercial/service vehicles marked “Vital” were carrying out work:

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One of the vehicles was a ‘cherry picker’. Were they doing work on the power or phone lines? Was it essential – “vital” – work?

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More workmen.

This time outside Te Papa Museum, in Cable Street. Around five men were busily erecting/dis-assembling the white marquee pictured below.

Only half appeared to be wearing face-masks. How is erecting/disassembling a marquee “essential” work?

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A Fulton Hogan truck and ute towing a portacabin, that appeared connected to work being carried out on the marquee:

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Ute towing portacabin:

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Around the bays; Oriental Bay and then Evans Bay; there were considerable numbers of people walking in the sun; families; and plenty of joggers. Not many were masked-up. Two mask wearers wore them inappropriately; one under the nose; the under his chin. (His chin was safe from Delta Covid, no doubt.)

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At the Evans Bay Marina campervan facility, things had changed.

Western end of the carpark:

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Compare todays photo (left) with yesterdays (right). Spot the difference?

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Southern side of the carpark:

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Compare todays photo (left) with yesterdays (right). Spot the difference?

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Northern side of carpark:

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Compare todays photo (left) with yesterdays (right). Spot the difference?

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Out on the street:

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Compare todays photo (left) with yesterdays (right). Spot the difference?

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From my observations, people were making the most of the fine day to either walk about; go jogging; carry out commercial – and possibly non-essential – work; or take campervans out for a tour.

You wouldn’t think there’s a pandemic and we’re currently facing dire consequences from the highly transmissable and deadly Delta variant.

Traffic later in the night was practically non-existent, with no vehicles near the airport or Cobham Drive when this blogger drove through just after 8pm.

The night-time drive home though wasn’t much better, with road works on SH2 opposite the Melling Railway station. The vehicles appeared to have “Fulton Hogan” brandings. How “essential” are roadworks during a pandemic lockdown?

When – not if – Delta Covid arrives in Wellington, it has to be hoped that Wellingtonians lift their game. If current behaviour persists, the virus will rip through this city.

Meanwhile, on a Black Humour Note.

By the way, is anyone still interested in signing this petition?

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Asking for a virus, keen to know.

But for the most supreme irony of the year, take a closer look. Look at the heading “National launches trans-Tasman bubble petition“.

Then look at the red-bannered message above:

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A rather unfortunate juxtaposition?

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 21

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the second day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: NZ in day two of lockdown as case numbers rise

RNZ: Covid-19 update -11 new community cases and 8 in managed isolation

National Party: National launches trans-Tasman bubble petition

Twitter: @BMHayward – Sth Island lockdown – Sydney – 6.03PM Aug 18 2021

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

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Acknowledgement: Bill Bramhall (USA)

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= fs =

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

18 August 2021 16 comments

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18 August: Day 1 of living in lock-down…

 

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 5

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

After a night of torrential rain bursts and thunderous blasts of lightning, I wake up to Round Two of life under lockdown. The weather is overcast outside; the roads wet from last nights downpour. This is a good sign; people may be less inclined to sneak of down to the beach or summer baches for a long weekend.

Sorting through my revised roster of reassigned clients. Thankfully most are staunch and understand the severity of the crisis.

Listening to the radio, vox populi interviews of Kiwis in various centres, I am struck at the stiff-upper-lip response from people. The lock-down is considered necessary; people point to the cluster-f**k that is Sydney; “we can do this, we’ve done it before”. I am reminded of WW2 stories of British people during the blitz; calm resignation and determination to see it through.

Only one jarring, dissenting voice from the South Island who whines like a six year old that only the North Island should’ve been locked down because the outbreak was a North Island thing:

But Matt Radcliffe said the South Island should not have been forced to lock down for a case in the North Island.

“We’re like sheep aren’t we. Yeah, I think it is over the top. You know, one case, if it is one case in the North Island… Australians can lock down a state, why can’t New Zealand lock down an island, if it’s in the north, shut down the North Island.”

Australians can lock down a state” has to be the most moronic statement since David Seymour prattled on about plastic bags. Obviously Mr Radcliffe is living in blissful ignorance at how Delta has slipped through one state after another because NSW did not opt for a full lockdown.

Contrast with this person, who really was the adult in the room:

In central Dunedin, Carolyne Smith said anything less than level four would have risked a New South Wales-type scenario.

“I mean if we go for sharp and hopefully short, we’ll knock it on the head, but I think if Jacinda and Ashley had gone for say level three or anything like that, they would have been just wide open to letting it go.”

The drive into Wellington took me along my usual route; down SH2 to the motorway; through the Terrace Tunnel; down Ghuznee Street, toward the Basin Reserve and then the Eastern Suburbs.

Traffic along the way. Definitely busier than the last L4 lockdown last year. Whilst hard to put a firm number, counting at any moment indicated twice the level of traffic than last year.

And there seemed to be more tradies on the motorway and city streets with their vans, utes, flat decks, et al. Plus a coca cola delivery truck – because carbonated soft drinks, as we all know, are critical to our wellbeing.

Near deserted suburban park-and-ride carparks. Normally filled to overflowing onto adjacent streets, only half a dozen cars  sat under a gloomy, chilly gray sky…

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The drive into town (and on the way home later that night) was marked by the presence of police vehicle. One sighted on SH2; another in Victoria Street, south of the Terrace Tunnel; and one parked up on the grassy central berm in Cobham Drive, connecting the city to the airport. This was in marked contrast to last year, when police were curiously absent from streets and motorway.

As mentioned above, traffic on the motorway was noticeably heavier than last year’s lockdown. More trucks; vans, utes – both marked and unmarked.

The number of vans and utes with electricians and plumbers markings indicated that either these people were still on the job, or perhaps were nipping down to their local super market for milk, bread, and nappies.

Last year I listed the markings on commercial vehicles. But I also missed many more travelling in the opposite direction. I may or may not continue the practice…

But certainly will observe and diary events, incidences, and people being people as I witness them.

Meanwhile, as I entered the deserted streets of Wellington…

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Looking north along Cuba Street, toward Cuba Mall…

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Coca cola-branded delivery truck. Both delivery persons wore masks. One over his face (good). The other under his chin (not so terribly good)…

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At Evans Bay marina, where campervans were permitted by Council by-laws to park-up. It remains to be seen if these vehicles stay put for the next few days…

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As I left my last client and headed to my car, I stood in a Miramar street not far from the Weta Workshops.  Unlike last year, the high-pitched sound of a turbo-prop aircraft accelerating to take-off still filled the dark night. A marked difference from the dead still silence from April 2020.

Tonight I headed home. Wednesdays was usually spent with my partner; dinner; something interesting to watch on TV or Youtube (Chris Hedges and Seth Myers are strong favourites). But tonight was to be spent home, alone. We have separate “bubbles” with mine being far more extended than hers because of my community work.

At least my cat would be happy to see me.

By Day’s End.

As trhe day came to a close, our covid toll had doubled…

Current covid19 cases: 10

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the first day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: South Island settles in for level 4: ‘That’s the sacrifice we’ve got to make’

RNZ: Microbiologist slams ‘irresponsible’ plastic ban claims cited by Seymour

Other Blogs

The Standard: The importance of political leadership in dealing with Covid

The Standard: Here again, but Delta gives less latitude. So give less latitude.

Previous related blogposts

Life in Lock Down: Day 33 & 34

Life in Lock Down: Day 2 of Level 3

Life in Level 1: Reinfection – Labour’s kryptonite

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Acknowledgement: Slane

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= fs =

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

18 August 2021 15 comments

[Blogger’s Note: Events from 1.30PM, 17 August have overtaken this story.]

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covid 19

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Prologue

16 June, NSW: A Sydney limousine driver ferrying airline flight crews is found to be infected with covid19. Analysis confirms it is the Delta variant.Two days later, community transmission is reported where a Sydney woman had only fleeting contact with the limousine driver.

22 June, NSW: The “Bondi cluster” increases to 21 cases.

22 June, Wellington: Aotearoa New Zealand’s government announces a “travel pause” with New South Wales, effective 11.59PM. As reported;

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covid australia trans tasman bubble

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Strike 1

23 June, Wellington: The news shocked the entire country: a traveller from Sydney to Wellington had tested positive for covid19:

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covid 19

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The male traveller had spent the weekend of 19/21 June in Wellington. After only a fleeting two day visit, the country was thrown into an urgency not seen since last year’s covid outbreak and lockdown.

The response was immediate. Wellington’s Level Alert was raised to Two. It was quickly determined that the traveller had mixed with  thousands of other people as he visited popular tourist spots; retailers; a bar; cafe; hotel, etc:

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covid19

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Authorities only knew of his precise movements because he – unless most New Zealanders  – was scanning the QR code wherever he went. It was this meticulousness that allowed the Ministry of Health to ascertain not just where he had been, but who might have been in close contact with him.

We owe this person a great deal.

Four days after the first announcement, and upon his return to Sydney, the traveller’s partner tested positive for covid19. It was announced at around the same time that – unsurprisingly – the traveller’s covid variant was indeed the highly infectious Delta strain.

It was the same strain that was rapidly spreading through Sydney from where the traveller had come from. By a miracle, as days passed, there were no reports of community transmission in Wellington. None of his 2,609 close contacts tested positive for the virus. Neither were there any traces of the virus in the city’s wastewater.

We had dodged the bullet. Strike 1.

Strike 2

5/6 July, Auckland-New Plymouth: The country was stunned to learn that relieving foreign ship crews were landing in Aotearoa, without the full 14 day MIQ. One crew was transported to their vessel, the Spanish-owned Viking Bay:

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covid 19 playa zahara

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Alarmingly, the MoH disclosed:

A Ministry spokesperson says they entered into the country under an exemption so they did not have to quarantine.

“These mariners entered into New Zealand under an exemption contained within the maritime border order.

“It’s important to note that all people such as mariners who this exemption applies to are still required to comply with full infection prevention controls.”

It is as if  leading Ministry of Health officials are oblivious as to the vastly more infectious nature of the Delta variant. Remember that the Sydney limousine driver infected a 70 year old woman at a local cafe with only the briefest of interactions. As New South Wales’ Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, pointed out:

“This indicates that the initial case was highly infectious, as transmission must have occurred through fleeting exposure, noting that the woman who caught the infection at the café was actually seated outside and there was no known contact with the initial case.”

The van driver who transported the nine seafarers was put into isolation, as were two other Ports of Auckland workers.

The Ministry’s insistence that there was “minimal additional risk to any of the contacts during the transfer process” rings dangerously hollow when we realise that the current crisis facing NSW started of with one highly infectious person.

At last two Ports of Auckland workers and the van driver were put at risk of infection; potential serious illness, and possibly worse.

The drive from Auckland to Port Taranaki is a five hour journey.  During that journey, the travellersstopped to use the toilets at a Hamilton isolation facility”.

It is difficult to accept they made only one “pit stop”.  With nine individual seafarers and a van driver, is it credible they all needed to use the toilets simultaneously? And as Maritime Workers Union national secretary, Craig Harrison, added:

“It’s a fair old drive from Auckland to New Plymouth when you think about it. If the driver’s coming back from New Plymouth, if it’s down and back in one day, he must be refuelling somewhere.”

It is unclear where else the van may have stopped for food, toilet visit, or to re-fuel. And if the van had broken down, with two infectious seafarers onboard; had they interacted with passers-by or professional road-side assistance, the scenario for community transmission would have been set.

12 July, Wellington: A week after the five-hour drive from Auckland to Port Taranaki, the Viking Bay docked in Wellington.

13 July, Wellington: According to the MoH, fifteen of the Viking Bay’s 20 crew were transferred to an on-shore MIQ facility at the Grand Mercure Hotel. Including the original two from the Auckland-to-New Plymouth drive, all fifteen were now infected with the Delta variant.

The following day, another crewmember – one of the remaining five aboard the Viking Bay – became unwell and joined his comrades in MIQ. This despite the fact that same seafarer had recently returned a ‘negative’ covid test.

We had apparently (?) dodged another bullet. Strike 2.

Strike 3

18 July, Lyttelton Port: Another ship, the Spanish-flagged Playa Zahara docked at the port. The Delta variant had spread easily throughout the ship, infecting three crewmembers. A further thirteen crew also tested positive for covid, most likely Delta as well.

Again the relieving crew for the fishing vessel landed in Auckland on 18 June and spent only two days in MIQ. According to MoH,  they were tested before their arrival in Aotearoa New Zealand and again prior to boarding their ship. It is unclear when the second testing took place.

4 August, Port of Tauranga: Matters took a dangerous turn when the Singapore registered container ship, Rio De La Plata, docked at the port to unload its cargo.

Initially, 72 Tauranga port workers boarded the Rio De La Plata.

Eleven of the 21 crew aboard the ship tested positive for covid. According to the MoH, “Officials have worked with employers to identify 94 port workers who had contact with the ship, unloading cargo in shifts over the four-day period it was berthed at Port of Tauranga from 6pm on Wednesday 4 August to 2pm on Saturday 7 August.”

The number was subsequently increased to 98.

Writing for Stuff media, was able to reveal that no one at Port of Tauranga or Bay of Plenty District Health Board was keeping track of who was or was not vaccinated at the port.

Worse was to come.

It was also revealed that port workers were needlessly exposed to infected crew aboard the Rio De La Plata  a second time:

The Rio de la Plata was initially given the okay to berth in Tauranga on Wednesday. Then it was suddenly shut down that same night. Then it was given the all clear again the next morning. And now, half of its crew have tested positive for Covid-19.

Ports of Tauranga management put their side  of events:

The ship was tied up at Port of Tauranga from 6pm on Wednesday 4 August to 2pm on Saturday 7 August…

[…]

… A Port of Tauranga pilot boarded the vessel at approximately 5pm on Wednesday and brought the ship in to the Tauranga Container Terminal. At about 9pm, Customs NZ unexpectedly shut down operations on the ship and the local Public Health Unit advised Port of Tauranga that our pilot and the stevedores unloading the ship should go home and isolate while awaiting further instructions.

On Thursday morning, Government agencies have clarified the situation and the Public Health Unit advised us that operations can resume on the vessel and there was no need for workers to isolate.

This despite Port of Tauranga admitted that they had been advised the day before the Rio de la Plata had been boarded by an Australian Queensland pilot who later tested positive for the virus:

On Tuesday, 3 August, Port of Tauranga received an alert from Maritime NZ that the ship had been boarded two weeks ago by an Australian pilot, who had tested positive for Covid-19. Maritime NZ subsequently cleared the ship for pilot boarding. The ship was also cleared to berth by the Medical Officer of Health at the local Public Health Unit as part of the normal free pratique process.

11 August: the Rio de la Plata  departed Port of Tauranga. All port workers and two pilots tested negative for covid.

The Australian pilot who became infected was not so lucky:

The ship is linked to a COVID case in an Australian pilot who was onboard the vessel July in Queensland and who later developed symptoms and then tested positive for COVID-19 nine days after being aboard the vessel. The Australian pilot is confirmed to have the Delta variant and has not been linked to any other Queensland cases.

Yet again, bullet dodged. Strike 3.

Out!

[This part written after 1.30pm, 17 August. However, it largely follows the original ]

The high-transmission rate of Delta Covid was starkly illustrated in Australia, as described above, when a woman at a cafe came into brief, passing contact with a limousine driver.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, the insanely high degree of transmissability of Delta Covid was reinforced at Auckland’s Jet Park quarantine facility:

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covid - jet park

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Every aspect of the increased dangerous nature of Delta Covid, combined with Aotearoa New Zealand’s policies toward foreign ship crews avoiding full fourteen-day MIQ; and haphazard protocols followed by port workers with visiting ships – does not bode well for us.

Little wonder that the Prime Minister was also uneasy about our vulnerability when it came to maritime traffic:

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Delta covid is unforgiving.  We are tempting Fate with our complacency. Someone at the Ministry of Health has not been paying attention.

We must do better.

Meanwhile, from the Death Cult Capitalists

For ACT leader David Seymour, opening up Aotearoa New Zealand couldn’t come fast enough:

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And to drive home the point, he added:

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That could mean living with Covid-19, even if that led to large outbreaks, more hospitalisations and even deaths…” – Mr Seymour can be very casual with other peoples’ lives. Almost sociopathic.

To be clear what Mr Seymour is calling for:

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“We couldn’t afford a situation in New Zealand to have it out of control in the community because it would risk collapsing or compromising our health system.”

It is not often a politician calls for the planned exposure of a deadly virus on to our country; casually dismisses the inevitable deaths (and not just from unvaccinated); and doesn’t comprehend the damage it would cause our health system.

Not only would opening up and “living with covid” kill – our hospital wards would quickly fill with hundreds of covid patients. This would take beds normally occupied by others with injuries and illnesses. Hip operations would be cancelled: no beds. Injuries from a natural disaster would not be treated: no beds. Life-saving transplants could not go ahead: no beds.

That is the nightmare scenario ACT leader David Seymour would visit upon his fellow Kiwis.

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twitter - covid

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References

ABC News: How the potentially ‘inexcusable’ actions of a limo driver put Sydney on COVID-19 alert

Sky News: Woman in 70s contracted COVID from ‘fleeting exposure’ to Bondi limo driver

NSW Government:  COVID-19 (Coronavirus) statistics – 22 June 2021

Otago Daily Times: NZ pauses travel bubble with New South Wales

Ministry of Health: Australian traveller tests positive for COVID-19

RNZ: Sydney Covid-19 case flew to Wellington last weekend

Stuff media: Covid19 NZ – Wellington enters alert level 2

Stuff media: Covid19 – If Aussie tourist who visited Wellington has Delta variant, alert level shift may be needed

TVNZ: Partner of Sydney man who visited Wellington tests positive for Covid-19

Otago Daily Times: Sydney man who visited Wellington had Delta variant

The Conversation: New Zealand has managed to dodge the COVID-19 bullet, again. Here’s why

RNZ: Australian traveller who visited Wellington has Delta variant

RNZ: Two mariners who were in Auckland test positive for Covid-19

RNZ: Covid-19 – Mariners driven from Auckland to Taranaki pose ‘very low risk’

RNZ: Fishing vessel with two Covid-19 cases will dock in Wellington

MoH: Update on Viking Bay fishing vessel

RNZ: Public at risk, confine infected mariners to MIQ rooms – Des Gorman

RNZ: Another Viking Bay crew member moved to Wellington MIQ facility

MoH: No community cases; 2 new cases in managed isolation; 2 historical cases; Taranaki wastewater update

MoH: Update on Whole Genome Sequencing for Playa Zahara

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus – Most of infected Playa Zahara crew to go to Christchurch MIQ

Stuff media: Explainer – How a Covid-19 carrying ship docked in NZ, and why workers were let aboard

MoH: More than 20,000 daily vaccine doses; no community cases; two cases of COVID-19, two historical cases in managed isolation; Rio De La Plata update

Otago Daily Times: No community cases in NZ, port workers all negative

MoH: Container Ship at Sea off Tauranga tests positive for COVID-19

Stuff media: Who, exactly, is monitoring vaccination numbers at the port in Tauranga?

Port of Tauranga: Rio de la Plata Update – Tuesday 10 August

RNZ: Covid-19 transmission at Jet Park when doors opened for seconds

Stuff media: PM wants to stop foreign fishing boats from changing crews in New Zealand

Otago Daily Times/NZ Herald: Seymour – Open borders next year regardless of vaccination levels

RNZ: Covid-19 – Delta in NZ community would ‘risk collapsing or compromising our health system’

The Conversation: Most COVID deaths in England now are in the vaccinated – here’s why that shouldn’t alarm you

Twitter: @GrumpyYetAmusin8.1AM – deadly virus – eugenicist – 8.11AM  Aug 12, 2021

Additional

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus – Viking Bay mariners broke MIQ rules in Wellington

Previous related blogposts

Life in Level 1: Reinfection – No, Dr Bloomfield!

Life in Level 1: Reinfection – Labour’s kryptonite

Is Air NZ the Covid re-infection problem? Possible evidence points to national airline

Does OIA evidence confirm possible Air NZ link to recent covid outbreaks?

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Acknowledgement: Shaun Yeo

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The freezing cold invisible hand of neo-liberalism

11 August 2021 1 comment

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Genesis Energy CEO Marc England

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Following the power brown-out through the north island on Monday night – something that supposedly happens only in developing or marxist nations and not developed free market economies – Genesis Energy, chief executive, Marc England was interviewed on RNZ’s Checkpoint by Lisa Owen.

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clown

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Trying to ascertain where responsibility lay for power cuts ping-ponged between Transpower and Genesis Energy until Mr England made this astounding admission;

“We don’t have any legal or regulatory accountability for security of supply in New Zealand, our only accountability is to be sure we can supply our customers.”

To emphasise the point; the CEO of one of our main electricity gentailers; currently 51% State-owned/49% privatised; formerly a 100% state owned enterprise; and prior to that, part of the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand has formally expressed his company’s zero obligation for “any legal or regulatory accountability for security of supply in New Zealand“. His only concern was “to be sure we can supply our customers“.

Let that sink in for a moment: ““We don’t have any legal or regulatory accountability for security of supply in New Zealand“.

That is where the splitting up of state electricity generation and retailing; partial privatisation; and the so-called “free market” has led us: “We don’t have any legal or regulatory accountability for security of supply in New Zealand”.

Being a commercial entity, the sole purpose of all gentailers is to return a dividend to shareholders.

It can do that any number of ways but it has no “regulatory accountability for security of supply in New Zealand“. It’s only “regulatory accountability” is to it’s shareholders. End of.

If it can achieve higher dividends by reducing power generation and thereby pushing up prices by virtue of scarcity – then that is it’s priority.

Not to New Zealand.

Not to customers.

But to shareholders.

It is noteworthy that since part-privatisation in 2014, Genesis Energy has not built any further power generation.  There are no incentives for it (nor any other gentailer) to do so. To generate more electricity would increase supply and drive down prices. By keeping generation static – especially in moments of high demand – it can drive up prices.

Electricity consumers can expect prices rises in  months to come.

Welcome to the logical – if insane – conclusion to the neo-liberal experiment.

The only solutions are;

  1. Regulation by government to force gentailers to build more renewable energy generation (geothermal, solar, hydro, tidal, and wind).
  2. Re-nationalise.
  3. Close close all coal-burning at Huntly and elsewhere.

Otherwise, New Zealanders can expect more-of-the-same: static or reduced generation; rising prices; brown outs.,

Otherwise, as Mr England stated with crystal clarity: “We don’t have any legal or regulatory accountability for security of supply in New Zealand”.

The free market has spoken.

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Caretaker Leader Judith Collins

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Responding to the power brown-outs on Monday night, National’s caretaker leader, Judith Collins made these two asinine posts on Twitter;

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clown

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Note the time-stamps on both: 9.05PM and 9.06PM.

Ms Collins would have had no understanding why the brown-outs were occurring. In  fact, for much of the affected areas, they were still in darkness. So no one knew what was happening or why.

Yet, that did not prevent Ms Collins from posting two childish “digs” at the government.

This is indicative of her personality; vindictive and willing to lash out.

It is clear that with each successive political poll, as her standing among voters continues its downward trajectory, she is becoming more desperate. And more erratic.

This woman is not fit to be Prime Minister. She is barely suitable as party Leader for National.

#CaretakerLeaderCollins

#NationalNotFitToGovern

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References

RNZ: Checkpoint – Power outages – Genesis CEO says Energy Minister scapegoating, but Woods has questions

Wikipedia: Genesis Energy

Wikipedia: Electricity Corporation of New Zealand

Wikipedia: Genesis Energy – Power Stations

Twitter: Judith Collins – Thanks Labour9.05PM –  Aug 9, 2021

Twitter: Judith Collins – Natural off shore exploration ban is looking a bit short sighted – 9.06PM  Aug 9, 2021

Additional

RNZ: UN sounds ‘code red for humanity’ warning over irreversible climate impact

Other Blogs

No Right Turn: The electricity market screws us again

The Standard: When We Needed Electricity, it Was Shut Off

Previous related blogposts

Judith Collins wins a Hypocrisy Award

Politics through a crystal ball, palmistry, or chicken entrails?

History Lesson – Tahi – Electricity Sector “reforms”

The Vote, Electricity, and Sex! (That’ll grab your attention!)

Labour, Greens, NZ First, & Mana – A Bright Idea with electricity!

Do National Party supporters prefer higher electricity prices?

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free market cartoon new zealand aotearoa

Acknowledgement: Dylan Horrocks

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National: Demand the Debate. Also National: No, not like that!

8 August 2021 2 comments

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demand the debate. not like that. young nats silenced

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Up until recently, National’s Caretaker Leader, Judith Collins, has pushed her party’s #DemandTheDebate rhetoric – implying that the current government has somehow, mysteriously, successfully stopped the entire country from debating “important issues”.

The party’s billboards screamed “Demand the Debate”, with Ms Collins’ glaring at us with her forced, Bond-villain-style smile:

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demand the dumb debate by national desperate to be relevant

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he puap[ua demand the debate

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Social media wits were quick to take the p*ss. National’s efforts were mercilessly lampooned:

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National's billboard

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The entire exercise was more a desperate attempt to remain relevant in New Zealander’s lives and control the narrative rather than any real call for debating issues.

It was telling that the real issues – covid/border controls, housing, health, climate change, poverty – were all missing from the billboards. These are issues National wanted buried. Their history of inaction on these points left them vulnerable to public questions demanding:

“Wait, what? Just what the hell were you doing during your nine years in government?”

But nowhere is National’s lukewarm commitment to debating issues more apparent than their recent appalling mistreatment of their own youth wing, the Young Nationals.

As Henry Cooke reported for Stuff media:

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The Young Nats had the temerity to question their Elders, calling for National MPs to vote to send the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill to Select Committee for public consultation and – debate.

Instead, not only did National MPs vote against debating the Bill at Select Committee – but their Justice Spokesperson, Simon Bridges, railed against transgender and non-binary people:

It is important that we consider sexual orientation and gender identity or expression separately. Sexual orientation requires no medical intervention, whereas when it comes to gender identity/expression, parents are naturally concerned about being able to make decisions about their children being given puberty blockers and hormones .”

Just another normal day for cis heterosexual men (and a few women, sad to say) determining the sexuality of other people when really, it’s none of their damned business. Are we re-litigating the 1986 Homosexual Law Reform and Marriage Equality debates all over again?

Mr Bridges, et al, we do not get to “consider [other peoples’] sexual orientation and gender identity or expression separately“. We can consider our own sexuality – that’s it.

The Young Nats – though hardly expressing unqualified, fulsome support for the Bill – made it crystal-clear:

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One has to wonder – where are the Free Speech warriors leaping the the defence of the Young Nats? (Indeed, at least one supposedly staunch proponent of free speech has roundly condemned the Young Nats for their simple request for an open debate at Select Committee.)

Not only did the National Party conference condemn their own youth wing (not a very smart move, as they are potentially the future of the National Party), but they called for at least one head to roll:

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Young Nats president Stephanie-Anne Ross​

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Meanwhile, incumbent Peter Goodfellow, was re-appointed President of the National Party – despite his considerable over-weight baggage notwithstanding.

Meanwhile, the ACT Party – whilst expressing reservations about some aspects of the Bill – still did the right thing and voted to send it to the Select Committee. As Party Leader David Seymour explained:

“We’re gonna vote for it at the first reading because we believe that people deserve to have a say at select committee.”

ACT has also been recently criticised for allowing a Parliamentary venue to be used by a transphobic group. At the time, Mr Seymour also supported their right to debate:

“Speak Up For Women has a right to conduct what is a legitimate debate without being subject to intimidation.”

Regardless of what one may think of ACT’s policies or the so-called “Speak Up for Women” (and this blogger has no time for either) – David Seymour has proven his principled stand on free speech.

Whereas National has demonstrated a clear lack of integrity; shifting principles, and willingness to engage in double standards dependent on which way the political winds are blowing. (This criticism does not extend to Young Nationals who have shown themselves the real adults in the room.)

A simple message to National: “demanding the debate” has zero credibility when an opportunity arises to debate – and they dodge it.

The clock is ticking on Judith Collins’ erratic leadership.

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#NationalNotFitToGovern

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(But give the #YoungNats a crack at it, eh?)

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References

Stuff media: National Party members vote to rein in board and seat-hopping MPs

Parliament: Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill

RNZ: ACT, National warn of conversion therapy bill ‘risk’

Twitter: Young Nats – Conversion “Therapy” – 10.29am Aug 5 2021

TVNZ: Goodfellow remains National Party president, Carter resigns

Newshub: National creates two versions of election review, one with ‘gory details taken out’

The Spinoff: David Seymour to host controversial Feminism 2020 event in parliament

Additional

Newshub: National MPs defend vote against conversion therapy Bill, despite saying they support a ban

Forbes: This Is Where LGBTQ ‘Conversion Therapy’ Is Illegal

Other Blogs

The Jackal: Calling all transphobes

Previous related blogposts

First they came…

Apartheid in Aotearoa New Zealand – yes, it does exist

Fairfax media and Kiwiblog revise incorrect story denigrating trans-people

Anti-trans activists fudge OIA statement – Report

The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response

Judith Collins and National: It’s a trust thing

The Shifting Faces of Simon Bridges

Acknowledgement

Thanks to Alice for proofreading. Much appreciated!

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National always on the wrong side of history

 

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Liked what you read? Feel free to share.

Have your own thoughts? Leave a comment. (Trolls need not bother.)

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= fs =

The Shifting Faces of Simon Bridges

7 August 2021 1 comment

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“Oops, I did it again
I played with your trust, in the political game
Oh baby, baby
Oops, you think I’m here for you
That I’m sent from above
I’m not that competent” – Apologies to Britney Spears

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Part of youth and young adulthood is the propensity to make mistakes. We all make those mistakes, some trivial and forgotten in a swirling fog of time and dimmed memory –  some not-so-trivial and which eventually come back to haunt us.

It’s what we learn from those mistakes that ultimately matters. For most, those mistakes serve as a lesson: don’t do it again. There are bad consequences.

For others, those lessons seem to be a wasted exercise in life-experiences.

Case in point, Simon Bridges, National MP. Current MP for Tauranga and National’s spokesperson for Justice. In the Key/English administration, he held portfolios for Economic Development, Transport, Communications, Energy & Resources, Labour, Associate Finance and Leader of the House. One of his most notorious acts was to criminalise protests against deep sea oil prospecting by foreign corporations.

(Five years later, the Ardern-led government banned new deep sea oil prospecting anyway.)

Mr Bridges is also remembered for his opposition to marriage equality in 2013. His heterosexual chauvinism was blatant;

“I don’t think it’s the biggest issue Parliament is going to deal with anytime soon. It looks very likely to pass.

I have voted against it really for a couple of reasons. The first is all the feedback I am getting from my electorate makes it clear the majority of people of Tauranga are against it.”

Secondly, I think more than being a legal matter marriage is a deeply cultural, historical and religious institution built up over a very long time.

I wouldn’t change it lightly.”

Came the vote on the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013, he was one of fortyfour MPs who cast their ballot against allowing gays, lesbians, and transgender people to marry.

It appears that his comment as a young man in 1994;

“Oh I know him, actually he was a teacher of mine at school. How do I feel about him being gay? To be honest I’m not really into homosexuality, but I suppose if he’s going to come out and say it, I suppose it takes a bit of guts.”

— was still very much prevalent in his life.

By 2019, Mr Bridges appears to have moved on from his ill-concealed homophobia. Firstly he admitted his comments had been immature;

“Look obviously I was a very young, silly young guy. It’s an incredibly long time ago, my views have changed.”

He then conceded that his voting decision on marriage equality had been an error of judgement;

“I would change my vote today. New Zealand has moved on and so have I.” Admitting, “We all move on and we’ve got a law that’s working well.”

Interestingly, it was “New Zealand that had moved on“, dragging Mr Bridges and other “no”-voting MPs along for the ride. More on this point shortly.

Unfortunately, Mr Bridges’ assertion that “my views have changed” appears to have been short-lived or premature. His statement in Parliament, opposing the banning of conversion “therapy” (Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill) was one Giant Leap for A Man – back to the 1950s;

“National supports the core intention of this thought. People should be free to be who they want to be and to love who they want to love. There is one major sticking point, however, which means that although we want to be supportive, we are opposing this law until it is amended. It is very clear in Kris Faafoi’s interview on Newstalk ZB with Heather du Plessis-Allan, and any plain reading of this bill, that good parenting will be criminalised —

 — facing up to five years—it is exactly what it is saying—imprisonment for being parents to children under 18. The members opposite yell at me, but that is what Kris Faafoi said on Newstalk ZB, and it is wrong.

Parents should be allowed to be parents and to explore sexuality and gender with their children. But under this law, if a mum tells her 12-year-old son or daughter, “Taihoa, before you go on puberty blockers or other hormone treatment, wait till you’re 18.”, that mum will be breaking the law. National believes there must be an exemption for parents.”

He then proceeded to veer off on a tangent regarding transgender people, de-transitioning, and puberty blockers, whilst citing a case from the UK. They were talking points straight out of the transphobic minority hate-group, the so-called “Speak up for Women“.

It was as if the “very young, silly young guy” was standing in Parliament spouting the same homophobic/transphobic rubbish from which he had claimed to have resiled.

How many times can Mr Bridges express chauvinistic views against the LGBTQI+ and then expect an apology afterwards to be taken seriously?

How many “free passes” does a person get for making the same mistake over and over again?

Mr Bridges has accepted the need to ban conversion “therapy” when he opened his Parliamentary speech; “National supports the core intention of this thought. People should be free to be who they want to be and to love who they want to love.“.

Indeed.

So the question then arises, how can Mr Bridges and his National Party parliamentary colleagues,  ban a practice; making it illegal; and admitting it is ineffective;  but still permit parents to engage in the very same practice that would be illegal and ineffective?

The ‘logic’ of this escapes me.

It is akin to banning child abuse – but allowing parents to engage in child abuse.

It lowers the value of a child from being a human being and reduces them to property. Like a table or a car or a TV set.

It should be remembered that pet owners do not have the right to abuse their pets. Heavy fines and even jail terms await pet owners found abusing their companion animals.

So in effect, if parents are exempt from the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill, Mr Bridges has elevated the rights of pets above children; that pets have more protection under the law than children.

Is that Mr Bridges intent?

Mr Bridges colleague, National MP, Louise Upston also confirmed National’s position on conversion “therapy”;

“National wants to support this bill. We abhor conversion therapy and anything that harms or abuses, or creates issues for, any New Zealander to choose who they are, to be who they are, and to love who they choose.”

But then, again, she advocated parents having the right to practice a so-called “therapy” that has been declared ineffective and would be otherwise banned;

“I’d like to see when the bill progresses that there is clarity and a parental exemption…”

Despite headlines to the contrary, ACT was not much better. Although supporting the First Reading of the Bill,  they took their opposition to the Bill a step further, supporting not just “parental rights” but religious-based intervention, as Maureen McKee clearly advocated;

“Further to this, if the family wanted to seek religious guidance, and they were, say, salvationists, they won’t get that advice; they would not even get prayer…

… ACT’s concern is that the bill, in its current format, doesn’t just step on parents and religion; it actually stomps on it. The Government would be interfering and legislating what can be said in the home, how a family is to deal with an issue, and removes their ability to seek religious guidance.”

Preventing “religious guidance” – aka conversion “therapy” is pretty much why the Bill is needed to protect young people. Allowing an exemption for so-called “religious guidance” would make the law utterly pointless. (It would be like banning drink-driving – except if you have drunk beer, wine, or spirits. Otherwise drink-driving is banned.)

The response from many ranged from disappointment to outright disgust and anger. Even the Young Nats called for their Parliamentary “elders” to support the first reading of the Bill;

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National’s Caretaker Leader, Judith Collins’ response was typical Judith Collins;

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Way to go, Ms Collins. Being dismissive of their Youth Wing with an arrogant “the party won’t be dictated by its youth wing” is a great way to tell your activists how much they are valued. Or, as one high profile commentator and activist from the Rainbow community put it on social media;

“Bold to start your party’s conference by telling your youth wing to fuck off”

Meanwhile, National MPs might consider scrubbing posts from their social media accounts, such as this one;

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Or, like this one;

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facebook simon bridges big gay out

 

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They have not “aged” well.

It beggars belief that Mr Bridges can attend Rainbow events and then make black and white declarations regarding LGBTQI+ that reflect his own bias;

It is important that we consider sexual orientation and gender identity or expression separately. Sexual orientation requires no medical intervention, whereas when it comes to gender identity/expression, parents are naturally concerned about being able to make decisions about their children being given puberty blockers and hormones … parents should be allowed to be parents.”

For the zillionth time; conservative/right-wing politicians should stay the hell out of the lives and bedrooms of LGBTQI+ people. Conservative/right-wing politicians do not get to choose “sexual orientation and gender identity or expression separately“.

And then turn up at Rainbow events as “supporters”.

So it was perfectly understandable that Auckland Pride Executive Director, Max Tweedie, confirmed that the National Party is no longer welcome at the Auckland Pride festival. Perhaps other Rainbow event organisors may follow suit.

Without much doubt, this Bill will pass into law. Parents will not be “criminalised” for talking with their children. Organisations/groups will be prevented from engaging in dubious conversion “therapy” practices.

The shield of “religious belief” will be stripped away – as it should be. Religion should never be a cloak for bad behaviours and practices from the Medieval Ages. If it were, their adherents would still be stoning gays, adulterers, etc, to death. (To spell it out; stoning is murder. Murder is surprisingly illegal, regardless of religious belief.)

We already see numerous examples where “religious belief” is just a cloak for what would otherwise be inexcusable, bigotted behaviour;

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If National feels they can pander to conservative voters and to extremist fringe groups like “Speak up for Women“, so be it. There may be a few votes in it. But not enough to become government.

Remember what Simon Bridges said?

“New Zealand has moved on.”

Indeed, the country has. But National hasn’t. It is stuck in a past that has not existed since 1986 – but the rest of us (or most of us) have moved on.

The same arguments used against Homosexual Law Reform and marriage equality have been heard before: “freedom to be a bigot in the name of religious belief”.

The same arguments against the so-called “anti-smacking” bill have been heard before: “criminalising well meaning parents who want to beat the shit out of their kids”.

All these arguments to excuse bad behaviour have been heard before. And under the bright glare of scrutiny, they were dismissed for what they are: uninformed fear mongering and cheap political point-scoring for votes.

As was pointed out above, it is inconceivable that certain behaviour can be found to be ineffective and made illegal – but for some inexplicable reason, parents should be allowed to engage in that same behaviour which is ineffective and illegal for others. That is some twisted logic right there.

This Bill will pass. And National will be left behind, it’s MPs forced to recant in years to come.

By then, the Party may have fractured, splintering into it’s constituent groups; Rural; Urban Liberals; and religious right.

But in the meantime, as Maori Party/Te Paati Māori co-Leader, Rawiri Waittiti said in the same debate where Simon Bridges declared himself on the wrong side of history (yet again);

“Tēnā koe e te Pīka. Tēnā tatou e te Whare. I’m going to be on the right side of history in this debate, and I will not wait for a valedictory speech to apologise to the rest of New Zealand!”

No more apologies, Mr Bridges.

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References

Parliament: Simon Bridges

National: About Simon Bridges

Radio NZ:  Govt plans hefty fines for offshore mining protests

RNZ: Parliament passes Bill banning new offshore oil and gas exploration

Sunlive: Final reading for gay marriage bill

NZ Herald: Gay marriage – How MPs voted

Newshub: ‘I’m not really into homosexuality’: Simon Bridges’ former gay views revealed

Newshub: Marriage equality, five years on – The Spinoff asks opposing MPs if they’d still vote no

TVNZ: Simon Bridges attends first Big Gay Out event, says he would now vote for marriage equality

Parliament: Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill — First Reading

NZ Herald: Act supports conversion therapy ban bill, National holding out over parental concerns

Twitter: Young Nats – Conversion “Therapy” – 10.29am Aug 5 2021

Newstalk ZB: Judith Collins – National will not be dictated by Young Nats

Twitter: Max Tweedie – Judith Collins on Young Nats – 2.38pm Aug 6 2021

Twitter: Nicola Willis – Wellington Pride – 6:01pm Mar 7 2020

Facebook: Simon Bridges attending Ending HIV Big Gay Out: 20th Anniversary

RNZ: ACT, National warn of conversion therapy bill ‘risk’

Rolling Stone: Ohio Allows Doctors to Deny LGBTQ Health Care on Moral Grounds

Twitter: @postingdad – conversion “therapy” –11.20am August 5 2021

Additional

Newshub: Marriage equality, five years on – The Spinoff asks opposing MPs if they’d still vote no

RNZ: Nights – Window on The World – People Fixing the World – LGBT community in Mombasa, Kenya

Other Blogs

Boots Theory: Laurel Hubbard is a trailblazer

Fightback: SWERF and TERF – The Red-Brown alliance in Policing Gender

No Right Turn:  Ending conversion “therapy”

The Jackleman:  Simon Bridges cannot be trusted

The Jackleman:  Calling all transphobes

The Standard: National used to be better than this

Highly Recommended Blogpost

Postingdad: This Bill Will Pass

Previous related blogposts

The Many Mendacities of Mr Bridges – National’s fair-weather “commitment” to a Climate Change Commission

Recycling – National Party style. Something embarrassing about Mr Bridges conference speech uncovered

Simon burns his Teal Coalition Bridges

Mining, Drilling, Arresting, Imprisoning – Simon Bridges

Letter to the Editor: Simon Bridges is a very naughty little boy!

Standard & Poor’s just sabotaged Simon Bridges’ tax bribe announcement

Simon Bridges – out of touch with Kiwi Battlers

Simon Bridges: the 15 March Christchurch massacre and winning at any cost

Simon Bridges: “No ifs, no buts, no caveats, I will repeal this CGT”

First they came…

Apartheid in Aotearoa New Zealand – yes, it does exist

Fairfax media and Kiwiblog revise incorrect story denigrating trans-people

Anti-trans activists fudge OIA statement – Report

The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response

Acknowledgement

Thanks to Helen for proofreading! Many thanks!

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Liked what you read? Feel free to share.

Have your own thoughts? Leave a comment. (Trolls need not bother.)

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= fs =

Farmers: “get govt off our backs!”

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16 July: Farmers mounted their “Groundswell” protest throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. “Thousands” supposedly participated, driving tractors, utes, vans, trucks and any other wheeled vehicle within reach. Despite being “people of the land”, not many appeared mounted on horse-back, judging by photos;

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The response from other New Zealanders to the farmers’ protest was less than enthusiastic and possibly did more to reinforce the perception of entitlement; refusal to accept reality, and sheer whinging, rather than any real grievance they might have.

As equity manager for 1,000-cow Canterbury dairy farm, Craig Hickman, put it, writing for Stuff media;

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Curiously, despite his criticism, Mr  Hickman described the “Goundswell” protest as the “very first successful farmer protest“.

Mr Hickman went on to warn “I don’t know if the Government will take any notice. Maybe it should if Labour wants to return to power unencumbered by a coalition partner” – as if re-election should always be the number one priority for a government?

Where should survival for our civilisation, and future of our species rank, for Mr Hickman?

But Mr Hickman was correct in some respects. The protest certainly attracted it’s fair share of cranks. From the deluded;

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— to the bizarre;

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cranks nutters rabid rightwingers groundswell farmers protest

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— to the outright racist;

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It was Open Field Day for the Cranks from both rural and urban communities.

One – spread widely through social media and promoted unwittingly by at least one right-wing blog – was fake;

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The image had been mis-appropriated; re-branded; and used to promote the “Groundswell” event. It was actually an image of a protest from The Netherlands, two years ago.

Unfortunately for those farmers taking part, Nature had other plans in store for us…

17 July: The wildest weather to hit the South Island (and felt throughout the North as well) struck the following day. The storm battered the West Coast; flooding the top of the South Island; states of emergency declared in Marlborough and Buller; Picton, Westport, Tākaka, Collingwood, Murchison, Springs Junction and Nelson were cut off; Spring Creek and Tuamarina townships evacuated; bridges damaged and destroyed, properties flooded.

The Metservice warning was unambiguous;

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… and the rest of the country would not be escaping either;

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The human toll became evident very quickly;

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25 July: It was against this backdrop that, nine days after the farmer protest and eight days after the storm that lashed the country, TVNZ’s Q+A current affairs programme interviewed NIWA’s principal Climate Scientist, Dr Sam Dean,

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Host/Interviewer, Jack Tame prologued the interview with a frightening litany of extreme weather events over the last two months;

  • record rainfall and flooding in China;
  • a heatwave in Siberia resulting in wildfires;
  • record temperature of 34 degrees reached in Finland and Norway near the Arctic circle;
  • Antarctica reached a new record – 18 degrees celsius;
  • extreme flooding in Germany and Belgium resulting loss of life;
  • over a thousand people were killed during a recent heatwave in the United States and smoke pollution from American forest fires on the West Coast sent a smoky haze over New York.,
  • And torrential rain causing flooding throughout the South Island here in Aotearoa New Zealand…

Against this back-drop, Jack Tame asked Dr Dean the question to which most* of us already knew the answer to;

“How much of the damage and destruction can we directly attribute to climate change, and should  scientists and the media be doing more to link climate disasters with human caused climate change?”

Dr Dean was candid with his answers; climate change was not a “something-in-the-future” for us – the effects were happening very here-and-now;

“…talking about how climate change has altered the world we live in already makes it more real for people.”

Jack Tame pointed out the irony of the farmers’ “Groundswell” protest – followed the next day by a severe weather event likely to be influenced by climate change.

Dr Dean did not mince his words in response referring to the crazy events. He pointed out that we all faced consequence to our actions. He called on farmers to lead or face the consequences of  regulations.

“We need to stop burning coal. We need to stop burning oil… New Zealand is importing vast amounts of coal at the moment to generate electricity and we have to stop doing that. We have to stop burning coal and polluting the atmosphere.”

He admitted to being scared as human are doing crazy things ; the rate of change was beyond anything evolution has prepared us for.

Dr Dean referred to humanity facing an existential threat.

He warned that now was the chance to keep temperature increase below 2 degrees – and not just by planting trees. He explicitly stressed the need to reduce emissions.

Otherwise we would be experiencing more severe flooding and sea level rise by fifteen centimetres within twenty years.

He warned that a 2 degrees warming would be significant – using air conditioners to cool us in winter and not much snow.  Aotearoa New Zealand, Dr Dean warned, would be a very different place.

He said the extreme temperatures in North America were very scary.

Dr Dean talked plainly. No jargon. Just plain common sense. Especially because – deep in our hearts – we already understood what he was telling us.

In many ways he reminds this blogger of that other well-known scientist and advocate, Dr Siouxsie Wiles.

We are fortunate to have the likes of scientists who share their knowledge, experience, and courage to become the public face of critical problems that confront us. They shed light on issues and problems we ignore at our peril.

Whether it is Dr Wiles cautioning and encouraging us to take covid19 seriously or Dr Dean warning us that climate change is no longer “something in the future” – they are the voices of reason we dare not casually dismiss.

Remember how, only three years ago, the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser Dr Peter Gluckman, mercilessly attacked and debunked the hysteria surrounding meth contamination in housing?

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The full interview with Dr Dean is only fourteen minutes long. It is well worth listening to.

And as Jack Tame and Dr Dean both pointed out, it put the farmers protest – especially over the so-called “ute tax” into perspective.

The hysteria over the “ute tax” was inexplicable considering how little actual impact it would have on farmers and tradespeoples’ pockets.

According to NZTA/Waka Kotahi, the maximum fees for dirty vehicles is set at $5,175 for new imports and $2,875 for used imports. As the NZTA/WK chart shows here;

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However…

Put into context, those fees are not as onerous as rural activists have been led to believe.

According to the Ministry of Transport, the average age of Aotearoa New Zealand’s vehicle fleet is considerable (something many of us already knew);

The average age of New Zealand’s light passenger vehicle fleet has increased from 11.7 years in 2000 to 14.4 years in 2017, which is older than that in the United States (11.6 years for cars and light trucks in 2016), Australia (10.1 years for all vehicles in 2016), Canada (9.3 years for light vehicles in 2014), and Europe (7.4 years for passenger cars in 2014).

The MoT graph is more descriptive;

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So, the average age for a heavy truck in 2019 was 17.8 years. The average age for a light commercial, 12.2 years.

Using some basic arithmetic, we arrive at how much, per week, a farmer or tradie would be spending over 18 years (rounded up) or 12 years (rounded down);

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So, depending on whether the imported vehicle was new or used, or light commercial or heavy truck, the cost per week for a purchaser would be an “astronomical”…

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$3.07 to $8.29 per week

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That is what “Groundswell” participants were protesting about:

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$3.07 to $8.29 per week

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The irony is that these people probably spent ten times that amount on fuel to put their vehicles on the roads to make their protests.

Meanwhile, as Dr Dean was telling us on Q+A,  “climate change has altered the world we live in already”. And those effects are felt by none other than… farmers. They are amongst the first in queue pleading for state (ie, taxpayer) assistance when floods, droughts, storms pummel their land;

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Although not all were happy with government help;

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A levy on farmers’ utes would seem to be the least of their worries.

The irony is blindingly obvious. Farming is one of the main emitters (fancy term for polluter) – nearly half – in Aotearoa New Zealand. There is simply no escaping the continuing dumping of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide into our atmosphere.  The consequences of this pollution is becoming more apparent with each passing week, here and overseas.

And as the situation worsens, it is taxpayers who are expected to stump up with more and more cash to pay for the damage from each calamitous weather event. 

The farmers who protested think nothing of the damage caused to our atmosphere by human activities. But they certainly have their hands out, to help pay for that damage to their farms.

They want the government to get out of their lives. Except when it comes time for government to come to their aid. It’s the “communism” that saves their rural backsides every time.

Remember this guy?

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But for how much longer can we afford to keep paying?

Postscript1

This thin blue band is our atmosphere…

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“Earth’s atmosphere is about 300 miles (480 kilometers) thick, but most of it is within 10 miles (16 km) the surface… The troposphere is the layer closest to Earth’s surface. It is 4 to 12 miles (7 to 20 km) thick and contains half of Earth’s atmosphere.” – Tim Sharp, Space.Com

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Postscript2

Climate Summary for June 2021:

New Zealand’s warmest June on record

Temperature

It was New Zealand’s warmest June on record, with the nationwide average temperature 2.0°C above average.  This is just the 13th occasion since 1909 that a month achieved an anomaly of >1.9˚C relative to the 1981-2010 average. Temperatures were above average (0.51-1.20°C above average) or well above average (>1.20°C above average) throughout the country. Twenty-four locations observed their warmest June on record.

Rainfall

Rainfall was above normal (120-149% of normal) or well above normal (>149% of normal) for eastern parts of Northland, inland Bay of Plenty, eastern Waikato, Wairarapa, northern Canterbury, southeastern Otago and western Southland.  Rainfall was below normal (50-79% of normal) or well below normal (<50% of normal) for parts of Central Otago, South and Mid Canterbury, Nelson, Tasman, inland Whanganui, Gisborne and eastern Bay of Plenty.

Soil Moisture

At the end of the month, soil moisture levels were lower than normal for inland parts of Otago. Soil moisture levels were higher than normal for eastern parts of Canterbury and Marlborough. Near normal soil moisture levels were typical for the remainder of the country.

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Very wet in Northland, dry for many remaining areas
 

Rainfall

Rainfall was well above normal (>149% of normal) or above normal (120-149% of normal) for Northland, western Otago and inland parts of Southland. Rainfall was below normal (50-79% of normal) or well below normal (<50% of normal) for parts of all remaining North Island regions, and much of the northern, eastern and inland areas of the South Island.

Temperature

Temperatures were above average (0.51-1.20°C above average) or near average (±0.50°C of average) for most of the country. Above average temperatures were mostly observed in central and northwestern parts of the South Island, and northern, western and southern parts of the North Island.

Soil Moisture

At the end of the month, soil moisture levels were lower than normal for eastern parts of Otago and Canterbury (south of Ashburton). Near normal soil moisture levels were typical for the remainder of the country.

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* Climate change deniers need go no further. Suitable material here for those who refuse to accept reality.

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References

RNZ: Farmers protest across New Zealand against government regulations

NZ Herald: Opinion – Why farmers protested in NZ towns and cities

Stuff media: This might have been our first successful farmer protest

AAP FactCheck Social Media: Clogged Dutch motorway pic doesn’t show NZ farming protest

RNZ: Wild weather – What you need to know

Twitter: Metservice – storm warning – 10:29 AM · Jul 17, 2021

TVNZ: Q + A with Jack Tame – More needs to be done to reduce effects of climate change – NIWA scientist

Al Jazeera: Finland’s Arctic Lapland area swelters in record heatwave

NIWA: Dr Sam Dean

RNZ: Meth house contamination debunked by PM’s science advisor

NZTA/Waka Kotahi: What discount and fees apply from 2022? – Clean Car Programme 22

Ministry of Transport: Vehicle age – RD025 Average vehicle fleet age (years)

Beehive: Flood damage report 1 Mar 2004

GNS: June 2015 Floods

RNZ: Flood evacuations into the night – 2015

WINZ: Farmers affected by adverse events

IRD: Assistance to farmers affected by floods in the South Canterbury District

Stuff media: Flood-weary farmers want Government to stump up with more cash

NZ Herald: Canterbury flooding – $500,000 in support unlocked for farmers and growers

Beehive: Government commits $4 million additional support for flood-affected Canterbury farmers

NZ Herald: ‘Better off with M.bovis’: Flood-affected farmer relays concerns to Damien O’Connor

Ministry for the Environment: Agriculture emissions and climate change

Space.com: Earth’s Atmosphere – Composition, Climate & Weather

NIWA: Climate Summary for June 2021

Additional

Voxy: Govt commits $600k to flood recovery

NZ Herald: Westport weather – Government to provide relief fund for flood-affected regions

Newshub: South Island floods – Government commits $600,000 to flood recovery as locals face aftermath of adverse weather

RNZ: Government announces financial aid for flood-hit Coasters, Marlborough

Newshub: Canterbury floods: Farmers hope $4 million Government payment is just the start

Driven: Ten things you need to know about the Clean Car Feebate scheme

Other Blogs

No Right Turn: A howl of ugliness

No Right Turn: The government needs to act on this warning

No Right Turn: Climate Change: Calling time on “leakage”

No Right Turn: Looking for more coal is indefensible

No Right Turn: Climate Change: The solution farmers don’t want us to talk about

No Right Turn: Climate Change: Just predatory delay again

The Jackalman: Some farmers are sick puppies

The Standard: Mother Nature gives Groundswell NZ the middle finger

Previous related blogposts

New Zealand – we’re in the sh*t

Investigation into what is happening in our water

Drinking river water – Tourism NZ puts visitors at risk

As predicted: National abandons climate-change responsibilities

ETS – National continues to fart around

National’s moving goalposts on climate change targets

The Many Mendacities of Mr Bridges – National’s fair-weather “commitment” to a Climate Change Commission

An Advisory to the West Coast Regional Council

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get government off our backs except when we need help

*  FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Agency (US)

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Or,

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Acknowledgement: Christ Slane

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