Morning Briefing July 19: Devastated West Coast begins major recovery

A major recovery operation is underway following the weekend's severe weather, NZ reviews its travel bubble with Victoria, and England's PM goes into isolation with 'Freedom Day' nigh. 

Source: 1 NEWS

Hundreds of people have spent another night away from their homes on the South Island’s West Coast after a weekend of severe rain and flooding.

Authorities are working to assess the damage to properties in and around Westport, with this aerial footage capturing the wide-scale devastation in the area.

The news is slightly better in Marlborough, where the storm also swept through, with residents given the all-clear to head back home there.

The Government has so far set aside $600,000 in funding to help those affected by the adverse weather, however it could take a few days to get the full picture of the support people need.

Many farms along the Buller River have been underwater and while no lives were lost, hundreds of livestock have perished in the floods, dealing a significant blow to farmers. 

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Travel bubble reviewed

The pause on quarantine-free travel between Victoria and New Zealand will be reviewed today amid fears the state’s lockdown could be extended.

Melbourne recorded 16 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday, however the virus’s spread into regional Victoria has cast doubt on the state’s snap lockdown ending tomorrow as originally planned. 

New South Wales also continues to grapple with its own Covid outbreak, with 105 community cases and another death recorded there yesterday.

Lockdown restrictions in the state have been tightened for the third time in as many weeks, with retail restricted and construction paused. 

Meanwhile, England is just hours away from lifting its own Covid restrictions.

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson goes into isolation after his Health Secretary Sajid Javid tested positive for the virus.

With England still recording 50,000 daily cases of Covid-19, more than 1000 international experts have branded the country’s so-called ‘Freedom Day’ an “unethical experiment” that could allow vaccine-resistant variants to develop. 

Covid breaches Olympic village

The very real threat of Covid-19 is also now hanging over the Tokyo Olympics after two athletes in the Games village tested positive for the virus at the weekend.

They’re the first competitors to test positive at the Games that are due to open on Friday under a state of emergency. The athletes are now isolating in their rooms, as are the rest of their group. 

The incident follows earlier positive tests for a Czech staff member, an Olympic official and a village worker.

Officials say they’re still confident the strict measures they have in place will ensure no widespread outbreak of the virus in the Games village, which will house 11,000 athletes and thousands more support staff. 

Gang member defends programme

Harry Tam, the Mongrel Mob member behind the contentious Kahukura drug rehab programme, says tackling meth addiction within gangs will only come if members trust those trying to help them.

Tam told Q+A’s Jack Tame yesterday many gang members don’t trust people, so the best way to deliver drug programmes is using those they can relate to. 

Corrections, the Ministry of Health and police are among those backing the Government’s move to give $2.75 million from Proceeds of Crime funding to the gang-led drug rehab programme, but National says the funding “sends all the wrong messages”.

Police Minister Poto Williams yesterday defended the Kahukura decision, saying the Government is funding a programme, not gangs. 

Broadcaster Philip Sherry dies

Former newsreader Philip Sherry has died aged 87.

Sherry was a familiar face on New Zealand TV for many years, presenting the news on both TVNZ and TV3, including TV3’s first ever bulletin when the station launched in 1989. He also had a career in radio, presenting for Radio NZ.

Sherry’s family told Newshub he died yesterday in Papamoa after a short illness.

Other news of note this morning:

- German Chancellor Angela Merkel has visited flood-affected areas in the country, describing the devastation as "terrifying".

- The Playa Zahara fishing vessel with 16 Covid-positive crew members on board has docked in Lyttelton Port.

- RNZ reports district health boards have not been included in a programme which sets out what Government agencies must do to cope with information security threats.

- Researchers say a new anti-clotting drug could significantly improve outcomes for stroke patients.

- The Northern Mystics have booked themselves a place in the ANZ Premiership final after beating defending champions the Central Pulse.

- And a 12-year-old has stunned the skateboarding world, pulling off a trick not even the legendary Tony Hawk could manage – in front of Hawk himself.

And finally...

Celebrity Kiwi photographer Mariano Vivanco with singer and fashion designer Rihanna. Source: Supplied

When Harper's Bazaar or Vogue magazine want a spectacular cover shot, Mariano Vivanco is likely the man they’ll call.

The Kiwi photographer has worked with some of the world’s most famous people, including Rihanna, who helped push him into the fashion stratosphere.

Vivanco has now spoken to TVNZ’s Sunday about the challenges he overcame going from Palmerston North to the very top of the fashion world.