A whole sweep of Government policies come into force today, ranging from pay boosts to a higher tax on petrol.
Paid parental leave is now up to $585 a week and extended to 26 weeks. The new apprenticeship scheme offering free trades training opens to tens of thousands of people after the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown cost jobs. Up to 17,000 qualified early childhood teachers will be eligible for a pay boost.
But it's not all freebies. The excise duty on petrol rises from 66c to 70c a litre today. The Ministry of Transport estimates that'll cost the average one-vehicle household around $35 to $40 more a year.
There are also changes to the building levy, and the Farm Debt Mediation scheme begins today.
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Housing prices keep rising
The housing market may already be bouncing back after Covid-19. More properties are being listed, up 19.7 per cent on June last year, while the national average asking price has remained relatively stable - rising 0.5 per cent to $727,749.
Coromandel, Southland and Hawke's Bay reached record-high prices last month, according to the data from realestate.co.nz.
Covid-19 getaways and returns
Kiwis looking for a winter getaway can now venture over to Europe, but that doesn't mean you can come back easily. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters are both mulling over a 'user-pays' option for isolation and quarantine if people choose to go away on holiday.
Yesterday New Zealand recorded no new Covid-19 cases for the first time in 10 days.
The travel bubble with Australia is also looking less likely as there's been a surge in cases. Melbourne has put entire neighbourhoods into lockdown while Victoria has recorded more than 250 cases in the last week.
Back home, more than 2000 people are expected to arrive in New Zealand and the Government has opened up four new managed isolation facilities to cope: one in Auckland, one in Hamilton and two more in Christchurch.
New virus with 'risk of pandemic'
Scientists have identified another emerging flu virus that poses "the risk of a human pandemic" in China, similar to the swine flu of 2009. Kiwi researchers say it's important to monitor the new strain, but also keep some perspective.
University of Otago virologist Dr Jemma Geoghegan will be on TVNZ 1's Breakfast at around 7.20am today to explain more.
Auckland's water bid gets fast-tracked
Auckland's bid to get more water from the Waikato River is being fast-tracked, despite protests from local iwi. Watercare wants to take an extra 200 million litres a day from the river for drinking and other municipal uses. It's currently allowed to take 150 million litres.
Environment Minister David Parker says Watercare won't need to go through the full RMA process and the matter will go to a Board of Inquiry led by a current or retired Environment Court judge.
However Waikato-Tainui complain they weren't consulted about the fast-track application and are frustrated it's been included under the Covid-19 recovery projects, when the consent was lodged years ago.
Kids behind on vaccinations
Young Kiwi kids are falling behind on their regular childhood vaccines after the Covid-19 lockdown. Some GP clinics still haven’t been able to get in touch with families who missed out, leaving doctors around the country worried about the potential fallout.
It's been blamed on appointments being cancelled due to lockdown and new parents worried about exposing their babies to the outbreak.
Other news of note this morning:
MP Golriz Ghahraman says Rose Matafeo is welcome to host the Green Party launch, calling the request to stand down a "misunderstanding". However Matafeo may be out of luck: the launch has been cancelled, but the party says it's unrelated.
Ecologists are thrilled after a rare New Zealand long-tailed bat was recorded for the first time in Masterton.
The second-largest early childhood education provider in New Zealand is being accused of pushing an unlawful contract on its teachers.
Gusty winds of up to 110km/h are forecast in Wellington this afternoon. Some of the Cook Strait Interislander ferries have been cancelled as a precaution.
A Christchurch jeweller wants his pigeons back after they were allegedly stolen just a week after he brought them home
Oranga Tamariki are on site and making inquiries at the Gloriavale commune on the West Coast.
Comedy legend Carl Reiner has died aged 98.
National MP Judith Collins is known for her tough talk, no-nonsense attitude and harsh crackdown on boy racers. Naturally Seven Sharp's Jeremy Wells decided to take her for a spin in a boy racer car to talk about her new political memoir 'Pull No Punches'. Maybe it was the car, but Ms Collins revealed a surprisingly tender side in the interview.