Tourism industry calls for clarity on border reopening plans

In December, Cabinet agreed in principle to establish a travel bubble with Australia in the first three months of this year.

While the news was welcomed, those in the tourism industry said they needed to ensure there was enough time to get ready for an influx of overseas visitors.

The managing director of the Scenic Hotel Group, Brendan Taylor, said it would take two to three months for the airlines to ramp up, if the borders reopened.

He said operators needed time to prepare and ensure they have enough staff to cater for incoming guests.

New Zealanders make record number of transactions per second

As of 2pm, $166 million had been put through the tills.

The busiest time of the day has likely passed, with a peak of 204 transactions per second at 12.30pm, a new record.

The previous record was 188 per second and the daily average about 60.

Paymark chief executive Maxine Elliott said they had to work hard to ensure the retail network was fully operational throughout today.

Paymark had seen about 3 million transactions processed since midnight.

Sky TV broadband trial starts strong

Sky chief customer officer Chaz Savage said feedback from the trial, which began on 4 December, proved it was on the right track.

"It's exciting to see our project take shape as we roll out customer trials with the support of a great partner like Vocus. We've been working together to develop and provide a solution which means New Zealanders can access all the entertainment they want at speeds and service levels they need, and we're looking forward to creating more value for our customers through Sky Broadband."

Trans-Tasman bubble to help reunify families, business - Melbourne University epidemiologist

Cabinet have agreed in principle to quarantine-free travel in the first quarter of 2021.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said officials were working on contingency plans in the event of an outbreak.

The decision is dependent on Australia's agreement and no major change in circumstances in either country.

Australian federal health minister Greg Hunt said his government was keen on the idea.

"We're ready to implement from our side as soon as New Zealand's ready. It's the first step on a return to international normality."

Police investigate message left near mosque

The message written on the footpath outside Masjid An-Nur in Riccarton yesterday, and was reported to the police by the Muslim Association of Canterbury.

RNZ understands the message was written while worshippers were at afternoon prayers.

Canterbury police District Commander John Price said the incident is being taken very seriously.

"We take any messaging that has any concern to it extremely seriously and a report has been completed and that has been assigned to an investigator," he said.

First group of Tokelauans repatriated since start of Covid-19 pandemic

The trip is expected to be one of the happiest for the islanders who set sail from Samoa on Wednesday and are relieved they will be home for Christmas.

The group had arrived in Apia on a repatriation flight from New Zealand on 13 November.

But they had to spend an extra week in isolation in Samoa on top of the required 14 days after a passenger on the same flight tested positive for Covid-19.

Some of the 33 people who are undergoing yet another 14 days quarantine on their home atolls of Fakaofo and Nukunonu have been stuck in New Zealand since March.

White Island volcano: NZ officials charge 13 parties over tragedy

Some 22 people died when the country's most active volcano suddenly erupted last December with tourists on it.

Ten parties now face charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act, which carries a maximum fine of NZ$1.5m ($1.06m; £0.79m).

A further three have been charged as directors or individuals.

These individuals, who have been accused of neglecting health and safety obligations, will face a maximum fine of NZ$300,000.

Vanuatu exporting root crops to NZ

It is being described in the Vanuatu Daily Post as a "breakthrough for root crop exports".

The consignment will also include 20 kilogrammes of coconut milk.

Vanuatu's Director General of Trade, Roy Mickey Joy, said the export was a milestone after years of struggle to breakthrough export barriers.

It has become possible because New Zealand relaxed its export rules.

At a launch for the exports, Vanuatu's Prime Minister Bob Loughman, told farmers throughout the country to plant more root crops.


One-way 'travel bubble' opens between Australia and NZ

None of the passengers on the flight from Auckland to Sydney will be required to quarantine in Australia.

However they will have to pay for their own quarantine in a hotel when they return to New Zealand.

At the moment, the bubble is one-sided, with Australians not allowed to enter New Zealand.

Australia and New Zealand are among the first countries in the Asia-Pacific region to loosen restrictions on international travel since Covid-19 travel bans came into effect earlier this year.

Call for more Fijian engagement with language and culture in NZ

It's Fijian Language Week and nearly 20,000 of the islanders in New Zealand are expected to celebrate Fiji's 50th independence on Saturday.

Auckland-based Fijian Nacanieli Yalimaiwai is also a director of Pacific charity trust The Fono.

Yalimaiwai is calling for more participation of his people to ensure their language and culture is preserved for future generations.

"About seven percent of NZ-born Fijians speak the Fijian language. That's very low and should be worrying for our people," Nacanieli Yalimaiwai said.