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Morning Briefing May 3: NZ apologises over plea for oxygen

A High Commission plea for oxygen prompts an apology to the Indian Government, the travel bubble extends to Perth again, and Manu Vatuvei outs himself as the sportsman facing drug charges. 

Members of the IYC Covid-19 response team deliver oxygen to NZ's High Commission in India. Source: 1 NEWS

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has apologised to the Indian Government after the New Zealand High Commission sent out a plea for oxygen on Twitter yesterday.

The Commission asked the Indian Youth Congress, the youth wing of the country's main opposition party, for help providing an oxygen cylinder.

Their tweet, which was quickly deleted, led to a warning from India’s Ministry of External Affairs to embassies about hoarding oxygen.

The Indian Youth Congress has defended the contentious delivery of the oxygen, telling 1 NEWS it was done to “save a life”.

The incident comes as India faces a crippling shortage of oxygen due to its deadly second wave of Covid-19. The country’s daily case numbers soared past 400,000 for the first time over the weekend, with Kiwis stuck there pleading with the New Zealand Government to arrange repatriation flights.

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Vatuvei reveals charges

Former Warriors and Kiwis rugby league star Manu Vatuvei has outed himself as the sports star facing drug charges.

Vatuvei, who’s had name suppression since he was charged with several offences related to methamphetamine two years ago, posted a video on Instagram last night, revealing his legal battle

Vatuvei faces three charges of importing methamphetamine, three charges of possessing for supply and one charge of supply. He says he’ll be “fighting my innocence for all these charges”.

The maximum penalty for possessing methamphetamine for supply is a life sentence.

Bubble expands to Perth again

Travel between Western Australia and New Zealand can resume today.

The Ministry of Health grounded all flights from the state on Saturday night after a security guard at a managed isolation facility and his two housemates tested positive for Covid-19 in Perth.

No new community cases have since been reported and the risk to public health in New Zealand is now considered low.

However, anyone who visited a location of interest cannot travel here within 14 days of exposure.

Meanwhile, some health experts say breaches of the trans-Tasman bubble during its first two weeks of operation emphasise the need for better border controls and tracing technology.

Those comments follow an incident at Brisbane Airport where an infected traveller from a red zone country mingled with trans-Tasman passengers after being allowed into a green zone area.

Another bubble failure was identified when a traveller from the Cook Islands boarded a flight from Auckland to Perth without spending the required 14 days in New Zealand before flying again.

Auckland University Professor of Medicine Des Gorman says more checks are needed at every step of the travel bubble, as the current arrangement is too reliant on good behaviour

Vaccine rollout ramps up

1 NEWS understands Government ministers are set to meet with large venues like Eden Park in the coming weeks, in a sign stadiums may be used as large-scale jab centres in order to boost Covid-19 vaccination numbers.

It comes as more vaccination sites open to improve access to the vaccine, including a new super clinic set to open its doors in west Auckland today.

Meanwhile, Customs has confirmed nine frontline workers who chose not to be vaccinated have lost their jobs.

Customs says the staff were employed in a fixed-term role that they couldn’t fulfil following the Government order that some border work can only be done by vaccinated workers. 

Benefits being paid early

More than 200,000 Kiwis have been paid their welfare benefit early over the past three months - but some say it’s still not enough to pay the bills.

Welfare advocates say those early benefit pay-outs are because people are having to spend more than 80 per cent of their money on rent. 

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni says the Government is working hard to provide people with access to employment and upskilling, but National disputes that.

Party spokesperson Louise Upston says more than 80,000 applications are being made for emergency grants each month and that not enough is being done to support people into employment.

Teachers not confident with maths

New Zealand’s maths results have dropped drastically due to a lack of teacher confidence, according to Associate Minister of Education Jan Tinetti.

Trainee teachers are now entering schools with less than 30 hours of basic mathematical instructions, while less than 40 per cent have a university maths degree.

Teachers unions believe that problem can be solved if more funding is made available. 

Other news of note this morning:

- The National Business Review's annual rich list has been released today – but without the “rich”.

- Scientists at Victoria University have developed a surface coating which kills Covid-19 particles.

- A breeder convicted of a string of animal abuse offences, including operating squalid puppy farms in South Australia, could be extradited from New Zealand.

- Two women walking along a track by the Clutha River in Alexandra have been shot and injured by duck hunters

- Sunday’s Miriama Kamo has taken a rare and exclusive look inside PICU at Starship Children’s Hospital in Auckland.

- It’s been a big 24 hours for Kiwis competing overseas, with Joseph Parker winning his bout against Derek Chisora and Kiwi drivers Scott Dixon and Scott McLaughlin making IndyCar history

- And with a week to go before the boardroom doors open, TVNZ has revealed its 14 contestants for The Apprentice Aotearoa.

And finally...

Kate Stanley and her canine charges. Source: 1 NEWS

TVNZ’s Good Sorts series has visited the New Plymouth home of Kate Stanley, a vet nurse who’s dedicated the past five years to caring for the dogs nobody else wants.

The dogs are usually old and sick, but she is passionate about trying to make them as comfortable as possible in their final weeks, months and years.

Stanley currently works three jobs to fund her pooches.

“I don’t have a fancy lifestyle or anything but as long as the dogs are happy, life is good.”