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Morning Briefing Sept 24: Authorities grapple with historical cases and new infections

Auckland’s alert level restrictions have eased ever so slightly with the city officially moving from Level 2.5 to Level 2 overnight.

Source: istock.com

It comes as another group of Covid-19 cases emerge in the community, linked to a man who tested positive for the virus after leaving managed isolation.

The three new cases are a family connected to the same chartered flight the man took between Christchurch and Auckland. Health officials are set to reveal more about this apparent new cluster today. 

Meanwhile, New Zealand also officially recorded six historical cases of the virus for the first time yesterday, which are all linked to a traveller from Italy back in February.

It follows one of those cases recording a weak-positive result recently, indicating an old infection that’s now believed to be the country’s first official Covid-19 case.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says New Zealand will likely see more historical cases returning weak-positive tests, but he’s confident they’re not infectious.

He’s explained more about how an old infection is identified and why it’s thought those cases are no longer a risk to the public here

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Peters dismisses polling

The minor parties continue to be a major talking point in the latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters once again dismissed his party’s poor result of just two per cent support, saying the poll was “boring” and “ridiculous”. Peters says he’s “utterly confident” of returning to Parliament come election day.

National’s Judith Collins also waded into the minor party debate, as she commented on ACT’s stronger polling.

She told reporters ACT has two jobs this election – to win the Epsom seat and “to take out the rest of the New Zealand First vote”.

Several other minor parties registered in this week’s poll, with the New Conservatives doubling their support to two per cent and the Opportunities Party, Māori Party and Advance New Zealand all on one per cent.

1 NEWS has looked at some of the issues those smaller parties are campaigning on and how they plan to grow their support base here.

And if you’ve ever wondered how political polls work, Re:’s Zoe Madden-Smith has a deep dive on exactly that here.

Debate gets picked over

Despite her own party’s poor poll result on Tuesday night, Judith Collins was on a high yesterday following the first leaders’ debate.

Collins told TVNZ’s Breakfast she was still “buzzing” after winning the debate “hands down”, although election tool Vote Compass found more people thought her opponent Jacinda Ardern won on the night

Others weren’t quite so excited about the leaders’ debate performance.

Aorere College head girl Aigagalefili Fepulea'i Tapua'i was one of several people to put questions to the leaders on the night and says the answers she received from both showed there was little understanding of the impact of Covid-19 on low decile students.

Parties campaign for rural vote

Meanwhile, the major parties were back on the road yesterday with the rural community a focus for both.

Labour revealed a new policy that promises to support farmers and growers grappling with compliance requirements if they return to power in October.

National’s Judith Collins also focused on farming issues during a public meeting in Matamata, as she choked up while discussing mental health in rural New Zealand. 

But that softer side didn’t stick around for long as Collins met with the Waikato man who got a tattoo of her holding a golden gun earlier this month.

As she sat down with Nik Given at a café, she told him not to worry about the assembled media.

“If they bite you, I’ll bite them back,” she said.

Strawberries off the menu?

Strawberries could be hard to come by this Christmas, according to one of the country’s biggest producers of the fruit.

Francie Perry told 1 NEWS unless the Government allows much-needed overseas workers into the country to help desperate fruit growers, strawberries may well be left to rot and 1000 jobs in packhouses could be lost.

The Government says foreign workers with expiring visas can now move into horticulture, however Perry is sceptical that move will produce the number of harvest staff needed.

Long wait for Elton John fans

Elton John concertgoers are going to have to wait another two years before he returns to New Zealand to finish his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.

The singer’s final two shows at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium had already been pushed to early next year following health issues, but those concerts will now be held in January 2023.

Elton John says he’s using his downtime during the pandemic to make sure he’s healthier than ever when the new shows do eventually roll around. 

Other news of note this morning:  

- A former police officer has been charged over the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in the US.

- The number of NCEA credits reported to the Qualifications Authority has dropped by 20 per cent due to the pandemic.

- The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has left the official cash rate unchanged at a record low 0.25 per cent.

- CCTV footage of an “extremely traumatic” kidnapping in Wellington has been released as the offenders remain at large.

- A 20-year-old man is facing charges related to sexual offending at the Gloriavale Christian Community.

- A group of Kiwi fishermen have returned home after seven months stuck on a boat in the Southern Indian Ocean.

- And motor racing legend Greg Murphy says he’s fed up with petrol price differences around the country and is calling for more transparency from oil companies and the Government.

And finally...

Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins. Source: 1 NEWS

In the 24 hours since Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins faced off in the first leaders’ debate, it feels like no detail has escaped scrutiny.

With that in mind, Seven Sharp has eschewed any more fact checking or the pushing of political agendas and has instead collated together the sounds and vision that best capture the vibe of the debate.

They have the withering looks. They have the intense hand gestures. They have moderator John Campbell lovingly cradling his clipboard. And they have the real star of the show – the bell