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Morning Briefing Sept 2: Coalition partners divided over Green School headache

James Shaw’s decision to approve nearly $12 million of funding for a Taranaki Green School was still making headlines yesterday as Jacinda Ardern defended the move and Winston Peters criticised it. 

Winston Peters, Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw. Source: Getty

Mr Shaw yesterday apologised for approving the funding, saying it was an error of judgement on his part.

However, Ms Ardern says the Green School project was about job creation and didn’t come at the expense of any funding for state schools.

Mr Peters, meanwhile, lashed Mr Shaw, saying the decision was characteristic of an inexperienced coalition partner.

Mr Shaw says he understands the Green School has approached Crown representatives to find a solution to the funding controversy.

The school’s chief executive Chris Edwards says the $12 million was always intended to be mostly loans for a shovel-ready infrastructure project.

He adds they applied for funding in good faith and are struggling with the backlash

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Cases climb by 14

New Zealand has had its biggest spike of new Covid-19 cases in nearly three weeks, with the majority of those detected at managed isolation facilities.

Of yesterday’s 14 new cases, five were in the community and all linked to the existing Auckland cluster. The imported cases also included the first to be picked up at a Wellington quarantine facility.

It comes as the Health Select Committee reconvenes today with Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Health Minister Chris Hipkins both appearing for questioning about the Government’s response to the outbreak. 

Meanwhile, the race to better understand treatments for Covid-19 saw a first for New Zealand’s patient research, with two trials approved to study plasma therapy.

The treatment involves those infected with the virus receiving blood plasma from those who have recovered.

Researchers say it’s important to learn more about treatments given the continued uncertainty over a Covid-19 vaccine.

New move against gunman 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has officially designated the Christchurch mosque gunman as a terrorist entity.

The rare move freezes his assets and means the Government can now charge anyone who supports the terrorist in any way, including financially.

There are currently 19 other designated terrorist entities in New Zealand. 

Meanwhile, Stuff reports Ms Ardern is talking to the families of the gunman’s victims to hear their thoughts on potentially deporting him to Australia to serve out his jail time.

He was sentenced to life in prison without parole last week.

MetService joins attack list

The MetService is the latest New Zealand organisation to be hit by a cyber attack like the one that’s disrupted the stock exchange for several days.

Their website was hit by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, but MetService says it was dealt with in a “timely manner”.

It comes as Kiwibank and TSB Bank also had some of their services go offline yesterday.

It’s not clear if those incidents are connected to the cyber attacks. TSB wouldn’t confirm if they had been targeted, while Kiwibank says they were experiencing an internal issue.

Australia vs Facebook

Facebook is threatening to stop Australian users from sharing news on their platform if the social media giant is forced to pay media companies for publishing their stories.

Australia’s major news organisations are lobbying for a law change to make Facebook and Google pay for displaying their news content, a move you can read more about here.

Google says this means Australians might soon have to pay to use its search engine and YouTube, while Facebook says the law change would mean “reluctantly” stopping Australians from sharing any news on both Facebook and Instagram. 

Australia’s Government says it doesn't respond to "heavy handed threats" and is reviewing public feedback on the proposed law.

Artist learns big lessons

TVNZ newsreader Oriini Kaipara has come face-to-face with the artist who painted her moko kauae without consent.

Earlier this year, she was shocked to discover an artist had used her image and moko kauae without permission - and with a price tag.

Ms Kaipara’s since spoken to TVNZ’s Marae about the issue and has sat down with the artist, Samantha Payne, who explains why she painted her and what she’s learned in the aftermath of the controversy.

Other news of note this morning:

- Thousands of primary health care workers are expected to strike across New Zealand tomorrow as they call for pay parity with their District Health Board colleagues.

- A snow dump on the first day of spring has helped firefighters still battling a major blaze in South Canterbury. 

- French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has republished cartoons that made them the target of a terror attack in 2015.

- The head of one of the country's firefighter unions is facing accusations he sexually assaulted and harassed two volunteers.

- The Government says two separate trials of the CovidCard will still go ahead, despite one of its original backers pulling out.

- After earlier facing questions about her husband’s social media posts, Judith Collins has now apologised for a “misleading” post found on National’s Facebook page. 

- Speaking of misleading posts, musician Tiki Taane has called out an anti-cannabis lobby group for “twisting his words” for their campaign. 

- And singer Ed Sheeran has become a father, announcing he and wife Cherry Seaborn have welcomed a baby girl.  

And finally...

Ruud Kleinpaste and a weta friend. Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand’s own ‘Bug Man’, Ruud Kleinpaste, is on a mission to encourage kids to see the country’s creepy crawlies in a new light rather than killing them with toxic sprays.

So, he took Seven Sharp’s Jeremy Wells on a tour through suburban bush and found all kinds of “super insects” – including juvenile katydids, vagrant spiders, and a weta “with a little Dan Corbett up her bottom”. Wait. What?