NZ

Vanuatu choppers heading to NZ for maintenance

The aircraft have been idle since April 2020 because of a lack of maintenance and a qualified engineer.

An RNZ Pacific correspondent in Port Vila says the choppers are now sitting on the wharf waiting for the next available ship to transport them to New Zealand.

The chief pilot of Vanuatu Helicopters, Andy Martin, said the last operations that involved the choppers were during cyclone Harold last year.

He said it would be a worry if the two helicopters are not back in Vanuatu after maintenance works because the country is approaching the cyclone season.

Christchurch International Airport considering bond offer

The airport's bottom line was affected by the pandemic, as international traveller numbers fell by 95 percent.

This contributed to about $21 million in lost earnings.

Despite the various lockdowns in the past 12 months, domestic tourism fell just 6 percent to 3.6m.

Total traveller numbers through the airport fell from 5.2m in the past financial year to 3.7m.

"We spent seven years building the business back better after the earthquakes," CIAL chief executive Malcolm Johns said.

Vanuatu appoints new country’s High Commissioner to New Zealand

Nipo will be based in Wellington.

He is a long-time civil servant and one of Vanuatu’s first Director Generals since the creation of the DG position.

At that time, Nipo was appointed as DG of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

He has also served as Chief Executive Officer of Vanuatu Football Federation.

Following his appointment yesterday, Nipo will present his credential letters to the President of the Republic of Vanuatu before his departure next month.

His contract is for three years but it is renewable.

New Zealand pandemic strategy in doubt amid Delta spread

Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said the variant "changes the game considerably" and makes existing protections "look less adequate".

It comes as the country announced a further 21 confirmed cases in the latest outbreak of the virus.

New Zealand had quashed earlier Covid outbreaks with rapid, strict lockdowns.

The country was praised for its efforts, which effectively stopped the spread of the virus. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has repeatedly referred to New Zealand as "our team of five million".

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Eleven crew members on a ship off the coast of Tauranga test positive

Eleven of the 21 crew on board the Rio De La Plata are confirmed to have the virus.

Public Health staff took the test swabs in Tauranga from the crew as part of the requirements for entry for the vessel to its next stop - Napier.

The Ministry of Health said in a statement that it was likely at least some of the 11 crew were active cases of COVID-19 and further test results, expected today, would help determine how many of the crew were likely to be historical cases and no longer infectious.

NZ sends 100,000 vaccine doses to Fiji

Fiji reported 1100 new cases and 13 more deaths today, bringing to total death toll to 254.

Of the deaths, 252 of them have come from the April outbreak of the Delta variant of Covid-19.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said New Zealand paid for 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine directly from the Spanish government to meet Fiji's immediate vaccine needs. The vaccines were due to arrive today.

"Our thoughts remain with Fiji during this incredibly challenging period," Mahuta said in a statement.

Auckland-based producer Philippa Campbell withdraws from working on movie

The movie, They are Us, will focus on the prime minister's response in the week following the attacks, and is set to star Australian actress Rose Byrne as Jacinda Ardern.

Ardern said in a statement that plenty of stories from 15 March could be told, and she does not consider hers to be one of them.

New Zealand's Muslim community has come out against the film, saying the focus on the prime minister, rather than the victims, is wrong, and it is just Hollywood profiting off the community's pain.

Fiji 7s to face NZ, Australia in Olympic warm-up

The Fiji men's team haven't played an international match since the World Series were cancelled 15 months ago, while the Fijiana haven't played since the Sydney Sevens in February last year.

The players have instead been competing in a domestic sevens series to keep match-fit ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

The inaugural PacificAus Oceania Sevens will be held at Queensland Country Bank stadium, from 25 to 27 June, with four men's and four women's teams from Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

NZ-based companies profit from sugary drink exports to Pacific

New research shows beverage exports to the islands have increased significantly to more than 39 million kilograms a year.

At the same time, New Zealand taxpayers are stumping up for the region's escalating healthcare costs exacerbated by that, the report said.

The biggest cause of death in the Pacific is diet-related chronic diseases, with the region having some of the highest rates of type two diabetes (47 percent) and obesity (75 percent) in the world.

NZ rolls out more Covid-19 support for the Pacific

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the rollout in the Cook Islands would begin on 19 May. It was expected to take six to eight weeks, and would then be followed by programmes in Niue and Tokelau - both are also part of the realm of New Zealand.

The government today pledged to provide additional Covid-19 vaccines to Pacific Island nations, so their total delivery would reach at least 1.2 million people in the region in the coming year.