Air NZ Resumes Akld Flights From Monday – Masks Mandatory


Air New Zealand will resume flying all of its Auckland domestic routes when the region moves to Alert Level 2 on Monday.

The airline has been operating a reduced domestic schedule in and out of Auckland while it has been at Alert Level 3. The majority of the rest of Air New Zealand’s domestic network has remained unchanged but with physical distancing in place.

From Monday it will also be mandatory for customers travelling during Alert Level 2 to wear a face covering while on board. Customers are encouraged to bring their own, or a mask will be provided by the airline prior to boarding.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran says while there will be more flights to and from Auckland, physical distancing will be in place across the airline’s domestic network so there will be fewer seats available for customers.

“Physical distancing means we can only sell just under 50 percent of seats on a turboprop aircraft and just 65 percent on an A320 which also means we won’t be able to offer our lowest lead in fares until physical distancing measures are removed. This has put huge pressure on our business as it means we need to move some of our customers to other flights. We’d like to thank our customers for their patience and understanding while we work through these changes.

“When it comes to face coverings, this has been a requirement for those flying out of Auckland during Alert Level 3 and our customers have been really cooperative to date. We support the government’s move to mandate the wearing of face coverings on public transport at Alert Level 2 from next week.

“All Air New Zealand domestic cabin crew and front of house employees will be wearing masks and gloves, and pilots will wear masks when interacting with customers or moving through airport terminals.”

The airline has extended fare flexibility through until 11:59pm Sunday 6 September. Customers who hold a ticket booked directly with Air New Zealand for a domestic flight up until this date may opt to hold their fare in credit and can do this via the airline’s online booking tool while customers who have booked via a travel agent should speak with their agent to cancel their booking. Customers who no longer plan to travel are asked to do this as soon as possible to help the airline ensure physical distancing is possible and for other customers who need to travel.

Air New Zealand already has a number of safety measures in place to keep customers and staff safe which will continue in Alert Level 2. These include:

Customers are encouraged to check in for their flight via the Air New Zealand app, and allow extra time to process through check-in and security
For those checking in at larger airports, every second self-service kiosk will be operating to support physical distancing. There will also be floor markers for queuing at check-in counters, service desks, bag drops and departure gates, and fewer customers will be boarded and disembarked at a time
Inflight, seating will be allocated to allow an empty seat between customers travelling alone. The airline will aim to keep families and some travelling companions together, so there may be some people sitting together with no additional space between them
Food and beverage services on all domestic flights will not be available to minimise contact between customers and cabin crew. Customers should let cabin crew know if they would like a cup of water
Jet aircraft cabins have hospital operating theatre-grade HEPA filters installed, which filter out viruses.

Air New Zealand’s Auckland lounges and valet parking will reopen from Monday 31 August. Masks will be available for customers at all lounges. Due to capacity restrictions under Alert Level 2 the maximum number of people able to access any of the airline’s lounges is capped at 100.

For the latest information, customers can check the Air New Zealand COVID-19 Hub and travel alerts page.

Air New Zealand will continue to review its domestic network going forward based on demand and physical distancing requirements.

Federated Farmers Wants Agricultural Workers Allowed Into The Country

Millions of dollars’ worth of production is at risk if the government doesn’t allow agricultural machinery operators into New Zealand, Federated Farmers claims.

Lobby group Federated Farmers said a survey by Rural Contractors NZ found that 57 contractors urgently needed 206 skilled operators.

Drivers come from overseas to operate combine harvesters and other machinery.

Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis said the issue had almost gone past critical.

“We’re on the cusp of spring activity and we need to get these seasonal workers on flights and into quarantine for two weeks,” he said.

“The primary industries can help us pave the way post-Covid economic recovery but not if crucial cogs in our production system are hobbled by key gaps in the workforce.”

Federated Farmers has written to the Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi expressing its concern.

It said if managed entry could not be allowed for machinery operators, experienced senior dairy staff and a limited number of other skilled technical staff, there was a significant potential for economic, health and safety and animal welfare issues across the primary industries that could other be avoided.

Source: Republished by arrangement.

National Selects Joseph Mooney for Southland

The National Party has selected Joseph Mooney to stand in the Southland electorate for the 2020 General Election.

Joseph Mooney is a senior trial lawyer and has built his own law practice in the Southern region.

“I’m very excited to be selected as National’s candidate for Southland and I’ll be hitting the ground running in the lead up to September 19. I’d like to thank the local Party members for their support,” Mr Mooney says.

“There is a short time to go until the election and I’m determined to work hard to make sure Southland has strong representation in Wellington.

“Southland is a large, diverse electorate with farmers, orchards, businesses and workers throughout. From our more populated tourist towns like Queenstown and Te Anau, agricultural hub Gore and now Alexandra, to our tightknit rural communities, everything you could need can be found here.

“There is no doubt that Southlanders are a hard working, determined group of people, but right now they are all worried about the future, what the state of our economy will look like, whether they will have a job and how they will support their family.

“More than 200,000 people are currently unemployed, with a further 436,000 on a wage subsidy. When that ends in September New Zealand could be looking at half a million people unemployed.

“National is focused on supporting Southlanders and their livelihoods, from backing Kiwis who have lost their jobs and are looking to start their own business, to backing existing businesses to take on another employee.

“I care about this part of the country and our community. Southlanders can be confident that I will be a strong, vocal representative for them under a National Government after the election.”

About: Joseph Mooney

Joseph is 41 years old. He was born in Hawke’s Bay and grew up in the country. Joseph lives in Queenstown and has built his own law practice in the Southern region.

Joseph left school without any qualifications and later went to university, obtaining an honours degree in Law. He graduated from university on the same day as his youngest sister, the first in their family to do so.

Now Joseph is a senior trial lawyer appearing courts through the South. He is on the Southland Branch Council of the New Zealand Law Society. He was appointed in 2017 by the Deputy Solicitor General to the Crown Prosecution Panel for the Invercargill Crown Solicitor. He has also been appointed by the Court as a Youth Advocate.

Joseph has been an Army reservist and volunteer firefighter. He has three children with his wife Silvia. In his spare time he likes to ski, mountain bike, and spend time with his family.

Champion of The Regions Brings the Dosh

While it was cold outside, freezing actually, the self styled champion of the regions Shane Jones brought warmth, some laughter and a big bag of money for various southern organisations and businesses.

One of the big handouts is for  stop-bank upgrade work for our rivers. This follows on from the catastrophic floods of earlier this year.

Otago gets a slice of the pie but the lion’s share comes to protect our lands from ever increasing adverse climatic events.

Minister Jones also said there is no solution to the dross issue but added that there would be a lot more to say soon.

Two Southland businesses will receive loans from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to boost production and take on more local workers, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced.

Up to $5.3 million will go to Alliance Group Limited’s meat processing facility and Drysdale Hydroponics’ vegetable growing business.

“These businesses are in line with Southland’s priority to diversify its economic base, and will create new jobs during construction and in the longer-term,” Shane Jones said.

“These businesses are in line with Southland’s priority to diversify its economic base, and will create new jobs during construction and in the longer-term,” Shane Jones said.

“Alliance Group Limited (AGL), a farmer owned co-operative meat processing company, will receive a $2.8 million loan to assist with the conversion of its Lorneville venison processing plant to include beef processing. This will provide its workers with a 10–12 week longer work season and will also create up to 20 new jobs.

“This expansion brings several benefits to the region, including more jobs, upskilling of new and existing staff and increased beef processing capacity in Southland during the peak season which will increase staff earnings through enabling a longer processing season.

“The conversion of AGL’s plant will start in a few months and will create jobs for approximately 100 people on the construction site, including jobs for designers and engineers over an eight-month construction period.

“Drysdale Hydroponics will receive a loan of up to $2.5 million towards the expansion of its existing hydroponic vegetable growing operation into producing a more diverse range of hydroponically grown produce, which includes tomatoes, capsicums, strawberries and micro-greens.

“The 16-year old horticulture business supplies local wholesalers, supermarkets, as well as businesses preparing food for sale, such as cafes and caterers.

“Two new greenhouses, a pack house and staff amenities will be built, with work starting within the next two months. A total of 30 new jobs will be created at the business, 17 of which will be added in the first six months of operation.

“Southland needs a wider variety of food production other than beef and dairy, sheep and root-stock vegetables for commercial supply. Drysdale Hydroponics has proven it can commercially produce lettuce and other leafy greens in Southland.

“This will be a great asset to the region where demand for fresh, locally grown produce can often outstrip supply. Produce not produced in Southland needs to be airfreighted from the top of the North Island, at considerable extra economic and environmental cost to both growers and consumers.

“Both businesses we’re supporting today are proud Southland entities and their respective expansions will quite rightly benefit locals,” Shane Jones said.




Invercargill Nurse Jenny McGee Has Thank You Cuppa With British PM Boris Johnson

British PM Boris Johnson hosted New Zealand nurse Jenny McGee at Downing Street, as well as other medical professionals for tea in the garden of Downing Street to mark the 72nd anniversary of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.

After being released from hospital Johnson said two nurses – Jenny from Invercargill, New Zealand and Luis from Portugal – stood by his bedside for 48 hours at the most critical time.

He tweeted several photos of himself with staff from St Thomas’ Hospital, who observed physical distancing.

The prime minister publicly thanked Invercargill-born McGee for being by his bedside while he battled the coronavirus earlier this year.

Johnson was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital and spent three nights receiving treatment in intensive care before being moved into a ward.

He was the first world leader to be hospitalised with Covid-19.

Source: Republished by arrangement


Government Aims To Slash DHBs In Overhaul Of Health System

District health boards will be slashed and new government health agencies created in a massive overhaul of the health system.

The government has released its final Health and Disability System Review which aims to bring the biggest change to the health system since DHBs were created nearly 20 years ago.

It proposes a series of changes to reform a system which it describes as complicated and often failing Māori, disabled people and rural communities.

The key changes are:

  • Slashing DHBs from 20 to between 8 and 12
  • No longer having elected DHBs, they will be appointed instead
  • Creating Health NZ – a new crown entity that will oversee services and finances and report to the minister
  • Create a new Māori Health Authority
  • Have greater sharing of services between DHBs

“The review is very clear, we can do better,” Health Minister David Clark told media this afternoon.

“Our system is complex and fragmented,” he said.

“Local planning must drive decisions, our health and disability system needs to better understand the real needs of the community and when and where services should be available.”

The government is committing to an ongoing programme of reform to build a stronger health and disability system, he said.

“This will take time, you can’t make changes to a system as large and complex as our health and disability system overnight.”

The report recommended cutting the number of DHBs in the next five years, with the democratic voice on them gone. At the moment there is a mix of elected and appointed members on most boards.

It wanted them to work together better to end the lottery of post code care.

With a country of just five million people, highly specialised services could not be in every area and they should be shared and integrated across the country, the report said.

The new Health NZ crown entity would focus on finances and operational work.

It would have eight board members and a chair, with an equal number of Māori and Crown representatives.

The Ministry of Health would still focus on health policy.

The new Māori Health Authority would sit alongside the Ministry of Health to focus on Māori outcomes.

It would work to build kaupapa Māori health systems and a greater Māori workforce.

It would not be possible to improve Māori health, which is worse as a population than the rest of the country, without making the system more suited to Māori values, the report said.

The report’s lead author, Heather Simpson, said there was not yet a consensus among the panel that created the report about whether that authority should control the funding and commissioning of services for Māori health.

The health system had to shift focus in all areas from treatment to wellbeing, the report said.

District health boards should clearly and transparently set money aside for primary health care – that’s GP level care, it said.

And it wants the disability system simplified, saying it did not serve disabled communities well.

Rural communities were also disadvantaged and DHBs needed to work out how to serve them better, it said.

There should also be a focus on recruiting and retaining staff, simplifying IT systems and planning better for building work.

The government says the Cabinet has accepted the direction of the review and the need for reform.

However, decisions on the individual recommendations would be made in the coming months.

The decisions on individual changes will be mostly made under a new government, Clark said.

He said it is essentially a three to five year plan.

“I would be expecting a new government would want to progress this as quickly as possible, the direction of travel is very clear and the opportunity is huge.”

It’s a once in a generation opportunity, he said. “I’m quite excited by the opportunity.”

Clark said there isn’t much in the report he would disagree with.

Source: Republished by arrangement.
Rowan Quinn Rowan Quinn, Health Correspondent
[email protected]

Why Lumsden Is Hot Right Now – A Local’s Love For His Town

Each morning RNZ lists the warmest and coldest places in New Zealand and Lumsden has been a recurring early morning warm spot. Lumsden Hotel owner Tim Hanna talked with RNZ’s Morning Report about why the tiny Southland town’s climate is special.

“It’s brilliant. We’re surrounded by mountains and high country, but we have this wonderful little microclimate.

“We’re nestled in, surrounded by high country,” – Tim Hanna on Lumsden’s climatic attraction.
“I’ve come to love our winters, we can get cold but we have snow, and we have so many still fine days with clear sky. We don’t have endless grey days or a huge amount of wind. So people are out gardening and fishing.”

Lumsden is a junction between Queenstown and Invercargill, and Gore and Te Anau. Hanna says when he travels away he knows down the road he’s likely to hit grey cloudy skies no matter which direction he heads.

“We know that what’s happening here can be very different to what’s happening in the surrounding towns.

“I’ve come from Northland – Kaipara, and my wife Janel has come from Sydney, so we’re not cold blooded, but we love it here.”

He points out Lumsden is one of the furthest points from the coast in New Zealand, which protects it from squalls blowing in from the sea.

Lumsden Hotel publican and author Tim Hanna. Photo: Supplied

“We’re nestled in, surrounded by high country. We’ve got the Southern Alps to the west, it’s a huge barrier between us and those southwesterlies, and we’re right on the northern end of Southland, with a range to the south. So the weather’s benign.”

“If you’re heading out from here to the back of beyond for fishing or hunting we always warn people it can still change, and you can’t take it for granted. But in town it’s just lovely.”

In the summer many of the hotel’s guests come for trout fishing, and to ride the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail.

Hanna said the hotel’s usual flow of international visitors had been cut off completely since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, and most of the remaining guests had been agriculture or forestry contractors.

“We’d love more Kiwi visitors, now’s the time to holiday in New Zealand. The jet boats and things that were so expensive before, there’s some good deals now.

“The locals here support us, and are coming back – we have a great chef. We’ve just had to wind everything back to stay profitable, we’ve kept our staff – we’ve cut back on hours, but kept them in work and kept the doors open.”

Source: Republished by arrangement.

Strengthening the Connection Between Education and Employment

The future for Southland youth is looking bright with the extension of one of the region’s leading career exploration programmes. 

Southland Youth Futures, an initiative led by Great South to increase awareness of the employment and training opportunities available for youth across Southland, is expanding its reach with three additional staff to support the programme’s success. 

The recruitment of the new staff is a result of the $1.55 million of Provincial Growth Funding which was granted in November 2019.

Great South Business Services GM Ben Lewis said with the recent appointments, Great South now had the resource to build upon the programme’s strong foundations and support development across the entire region. 

“The wealth of experience and knowledge the new members will bring to the team, along with the ongoing support from educational institutions, local employers and sector representatives will encourage even greater outcomes for youth and Southland’s future labour market,” 


Jan Ormsby, Renata Gill and Pat Hoffmann have been appointed as Southland Youth Futures Advisers and along with Allison Beckham, will continue the work of the programme which includes coordinating workplace visits, employer talks in schools, leading the delivery of a Southland Work Ready Passport and encouraging employers to invest in youth.

With the funding and additional staff, the Great South programme will expand upon its initial primary industry focus to also include tourism, retail, construction and hospitality in its activities, events and initiatives. 

Lewis said retaining youth and their skills in Southland was a key component to addressing the challenges associated with Southland’s aging population. 

“Through the Southland Youth Futures programme, we are providing youth and local employers with the tools needed to address the region’s future labour market needs,” 

Along with helping 6,200 young people aged between 14-20 over the next three years, the programme also plans to annually engage with 150 at risk youth, increase employer participation to 125 (currently 86) and offer employer connection opportunities relevant to Maori and Pacifica students.

With strong connections to local employers and sector representatives, the initiative plays a strong role in strengthening local business by supporting businesses to adapt their recruiting and employment practices and invest in youth. 

As a result, the programme now has 32 Employer Excellence Partners, with plans to increase this to more than 50 over the next three years.

Lewis said that by supporting local employers and assisting young people to secure meaningful employment, the programme was adding value to the wider Southland economy and playing a significant role in positioning Southland as a preferred place to live, work and invest.

The Southland Youth Futures programme was established in 2014 after the research report Our Forgotten Youth highlighted high levels of youth unemployment and the difficulties for local employers to attract skilled staff. 

Milford Sound Businesses Suffer As Damaged Road Remains Closed

Fiordland businesses are scrambling to keep tills ticking over as the road into Milford Sound remains completely blocked by slips, mayor Gary Tong says.

State Highway 94, Milford Road, is still completely blocked by slips triggered by last week’s heavy rain. Southland Emergency Management controller Marcus Roy said yesterday it was uncertain how long the town would be cut off.

Southland mayor Gary Tong said there was substantial damage to the road.

“The road into Milford from around about the cascade through to just the bottom side of Mahama tunnel has been pretty well damaged, there’s teams in there working on repairing that.

“I’m no road expert but yeah, there’s some pretty horrendous damage in there.”

He said Fiordland businesses which relied on the popular tourist destination were scrambling to come up with other ways to keep the tills ticking over while the tourism income was inaccessible.

Tourism operators had told him they would instead be running trips to places such as Manapouri and Doubtful Sound.

Cruise company Real Journeys said it hoped to have boats sailing on the fiord again tomorrow, although tourists hoping to cruise at Milford Sound over the coming week would only be able to reach the area by air.

A state of emergency was declared for the Southland region on Tuesday because of the flooding, giving local authorities greater powers to respond.

A state of emergency was declared for Clutha district in Otago at the same time, but that was lifted on Friday.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage was expected to fly over the region to assess damage to the worst-affected areas yesterday, touching down in Te Anau and Queenstown.

The Department of Conservation announced on Friday the Milford and Routeburn Great Walks would remain closed – Milford for at least three weeks and Routeburn for “the foreseeable future” – although the Kepler track remained open.

Source: Republished by arrangement.

Gore Residents Allowed To Return Home

Residents of Gore will be allowed to return home from 6.00pm tonight.
Civil Defence controller Ian Davidson-Watts made the decision to allow people who live in Gore to go home after assessments of the river flows and condition of the flood bank in the town.

“The Mataura River has been slowly receding since it peaked in Gore about midday. We’ve also had assessments done of the flood bank and we’re now confident it is safe to let people go home.
The decision is for properties in Gore only, Dr Davidson-Watts said.

“We’ve been encouraged by the reducing water flows in the river and latest projections show that the river flow should be back down to around 2000 cumecs by 6pm, which is well below the design level for the flood bank.

“We thank people again for the way they responded when we needed to evacuate at short notice, and appreciate their patience while they have been away from home.”

The Gore bridge has also reopened to traffic, opening up access to and from Clinton via State Highway 1.

People are advised that Mataura is still evacuated and there are limited options for anyone travelling south via Gore. State Highway 1 is closed at Mataura.

Key points:

  • People are advised to stay away from the Mataura River.
  • Do not drive or walk through flood waters. The water may have washed away parts of the road and may contain debris.
  • Treat all flood water as contaminated and unsafe.
  • Mataura remains evacuated and police will do regular security patrols overnight.
  • People in Gore should conserve water.
  • A boil water notice is in place for Gore.

If your home or property was affected by the floods over the past few days, below are some tips to help as you embark on the clean-up.

  • Contact your insurance company and take photos.
  • Treat all water as contaminated – so wash your hands thoroughly after you’ve been in contact with floodwaters & mud/silt from inside your house.
  • Do not move back into a damp house, particularly if you have young children/babies.
  • If you had a power cut food in your freezer will stay safely frozen for up to 24 hours as long as the freezer door is kept closed. After 24 hours the food should be discarded.
  • Please limit the amount of waste water your household is generating ie – from flushing the toilet, using the washing machine – as waste-water systems are struggling to cope with the deluge.
  • Please check on your neighbours – particularly if they live alone, are elderly or vulnerable.
  • Check the Council website and Facebook page for more information.
  • If you need support please contact Gore Victim Support 0800 842 846
  • Please call the Council’s after service 2090330 or message our Facebook page if you have any queries.