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New Zealand has moved to red light Covid-19 setting.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the move on Sunday 23rd January with the country moving levels last night at 11:59pm

The move was prompted after nine Covid-19 cases in Nelson yesterday were confirmed as the Omicron variant, Ardern said.

Ardern said that “Omicron is now circulating in Auckland and possibly the Nelson-Marlborough region, if not elsewhere.”

New Zealand will now focus is on slowing the spread of the Omicron variant and the strategy includes rapid tests, contact tracing and isolating cases and contacts.

The government has been preparing for three stages in its response to Omicron, Ardern said.

In stage one you will need to isolate for 14 days if you are a case or a contact.

She said stage two is a transition stage where the system is adjusted to identifying those at greater risk of Omicron and where there is the greatest risk of severe illness from Omicron.

Ardern said New Zealand is not likely to enter stage three for a few weeks and in this stage there will be changes to contact tracing.

Red light setting

The red light settings is not a lockdown.

Some things are restricted, but businesses and schools are still open. However, from now students in Year 4 upwards will be required to wear a mask.

Last year was New Zealand’s hottest year on record, according to the country’s National Institute of Water and Aeronautic Research (NIWA).

According to NIWA, New Zealand’s average temperature in 2021 was 13.56 degrees Celsius.

This is the highest average NIWA has recorded since it began taking records in 1909. It also breaks the previous record set in 2016 by 0.11 degrees.

The latest news has been part of an ongoing trend with seven of the past nine years being among New Zealand’s warmest ever.

Experts believe that these increases will only increase.

Dr James Renwick, from the Victoria University of Wellington said: “We can expect more and more of the same in future – the record high temperatures we have just experienced would be counted as a cold year by the 2040s.”

Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) is reminding Kiwis to stay safe this summer as they hit the beaches, lakes and rivers this holiday season.

WSNZ’s Chief Executive, Daniel Gerrard, says: “While we want everyone to enjoy the summer break, unfortunately, too many New Zealanders are still drowning. There have been five preventable drowning deaths on average over the past five summer holiday periods[1].

“WSNZ wants zero drowning fatalities this holiday period and we need everyone to  take personal responsibility for their safety and that of those they care for if we are to avoid drowning fatalities this summer.”

WSNZ’s drowning statistics[2] show that the high-risk groups are men; adults boating; young people swimming; and Asian, Māori and Pasifika people fishing. On a per-capita basis, New Zealand’s preventable fatal drowning rate is 1.62 per 100,000. This rate has been steady for the past five years. We also have a high drowning rate compared to Australia. Drowning in New Zealand is the leading cause of recreational death and the second highest cause of death by unintentional injury for people under 25 years of age.

“Too many lives are needlessly lost, and families devastated. It doesn’t need to be this way.

“Our frontline rescue services Surf Lifesaving NZ and Coastguard NZ are bracing themselves for a busy summer, but everyone can play a part by thinking about water safety. People just need to remember some key water safety rules for safe play in the water,” Daniel Gerrard says.

  • Be prepared – Check the weather forecast, marine conditions; know the local environment, safe swimming spots; set rules for safe play; use safe and well-maintained equipment.
  • Look out for yourself and others. Always supervise children around water and keep children under five years within arm’s reach; never swim alone. Swim between the flags at the beach and make sure everyone on board the boat is wearing a well-fitted lifejacket.
  • Be aware of the dangers. The water will be cold. If it’s a surf beach, it’s a rip beach.
  • Know your limits. Challenge yourself within your abilities and skill level; know what you can and can’t do in the water

Wherever there is water, there are risks. If you are going away for the weekend, do some research about risks or ask locals, and if you’re at a holiday home with little ones, check for hazards. If there’s a pool, make sure the gates and fences are secure and work properly.

WSNZ says that underestimating the risks and overestimating ability are the biggest mistakes people make when they’re in the water.

“New Zealanders love to play in the water, but there is always risk. We all need to be aware of and think, for a few minutes, about water safety before heading to the water. It could save your or your loved one’s lives.

“Be prepared, know the risks and your limits, and watch out for yourself and others,” Daniel Gerrard says.

[1] WSNZ Holiday Drowning Period stats: Five-year average preventable drowning deaths for previous five-year holiday periods 2016/17 to 2020/2021: 5

[2] WSNZ Drowning Statistics

Following one of the craziest years in recent memory, 2021 has shown that Kiwi Kids News readers love their pet stories. From whales to polar bears 4 of our top five articles all related to animals. Check out out Top 5 articles of 2021.

  1. One the 13th June we ran the article about a man who claimed to be eaten by a whale – https://www.kiwikidsnews.co.nz/man-claims-to-have-been-eaten-by-a-whale/

2. Next up was the another article from the middle of the year when New Zealand observed a blood red moon – https://www.kiwikidsnews.co.nz/super-blood-moon-wows-new-zealand/

3. Another animal article rounded out the top three with the poor bear that was found stuck in a ceiling in the United States – https://www.kiwikidsnews.co.nz/bear-gets-stuck-in-factory-ceiling/

4. Should we keep Pets? continued the animals theme this year and this was the only Feature Article to make it into the top 10.

5. The final article making the top 5 continued with the animal theme as we found out about an alligator that went to the Post Office – https://www.kiwikidsnews.co.nz/alligator-joins-queue-at-us-post-office/

While animals stories proved to be the most popular when it came to our most commented articles that is when our readers moved on from animals.

  1. Our most comments article this year was our April Fools Day article which claimed the government was going to give an iPad to every school student – https://www.kiwikidsnews.co.nz/government-announces-ipads-for-every-kiwi-child/
  2. Next on the list as the most commented was the article about the engineer who built the world’s biggest nurf gun – https://www.kiwikidsnews.co.nz/engineer-builds-worlds-biggest-nerf-gun/
  3. Finally in true Kiwi Kids News style our third most commented article was about the poor man who was hit with poo after it was released from a passing aircraft – https://www.kiwikidsnews.co.nz/man-hit-with-poo-dropped-from-aero-plane/

New Zealand has passed the 90% vaccination goal.

Yesterday, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced the milestone at a special press conference.

The 90% rate means nearly 3,800,000 people have rolled up their sleeves for two Pfizer doses. The news comes following the three DHBs in Auckland’s metropolitan area reaching the target.

Seven of the country’s 20 DHBs have now reached 90% double-vaccination, and a handful of others are on track to reach the target in the next few days.

Hipkins also announced that 94% of the eligible population nationwide have had their first dose.

A shortage of brown sugar has hit New Zealand.

The shortage comes after the Food Safety NZ ordered a mass recall of brown sugar in New Zealand due to fears of lead contamination.

The country’s only sugar refinery, NZ Sugar Limited, has been forced to recall four lots of its sugar products after low levels of lead were detected in some of its batches.

Food Safety New Zealand is investigating the handling of the recall.

The company expects it will have sugar back in supply by Christmas, but until then home bakers are having to ditch some of their favourite recipes.

The issue has effected home-bakers and small bakeries. Some food operators have informed their customers via social media they will halt production, until the sugar hits the shelves. Meanwhile, large bakeries are offering to portion out their bulk bags and sell small packs to those desperate for a sugar-fix.

Bringing together creatures from Aotearoa’s rocky shore and exciting new books, Read NZ’s Summer Reading Challenge launches today. Check out the website – reading-challenge.org.nz 

Read NZ Te Pou Muramura wants to get more Kiwi kids enjoying books over the summer and its annual reading challenge is sea-creature themed this year, thanks to illustrations by children’s author Stephanie Thatcher.

The Summer Reading Challenge is an interactive website. Children from five years old are invited to register for free and choose a team to play for. Players log the books they read over the summer, along with a star rating and short review. A ‘readerboard’ keeps track of the teams as they move up and down the rankings accordingly.

Guided by children’s feedback, the Summer Reading Challenge features a simplified book logging system and teams arranged by age groups.

It’s the fourth time the organisation has run the challenge. This year, there are six ways for children to win prizes, and only one is related to reading a large number of books.

Booksellers’ tokens will be awarded as spot prizes every day of the competition. There are lots of books to be won too, thanks to the support of local publishers, especially Upstart Press. To win a specially curated bundle of new books, children can send in a picture of their favourite book or their summer reading spot. The top readers in each team will also win Booksellers tokens at the end of the competition.

Read NZ Te Pou Muramura CEO Juliet Blyth says the reading challenge is a fun new way to address the well-documented ‘summer slide’ in learning over the holidays.

“We’re excited to be running our Reading Challenge again this summer. We want more children to experience the joy of reading and hopefully encourage other whānau members to pick up a book too,” she says.

“It’s easy to forget just how important it is to keep your kids reading over summer, with the excitement of Christmas and all the things to be done outside over the summer holidays that can take precedence.

“But even summer holidays have rainy days and encouraging your kids to pick up a book will help them when they return to school in the new year. The effects of the ‘summer slide’ are well documented – reading loss over the long break can be significant.

“Our reading challenge aims to make reading fun, and with spot prizes to be won every day the focus is on participation, not just on winning.”

Read NZ is grateful for the generous support of Booksellers New Zealand and Upstart Press for the prizes on offer.

Sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge by registering at reading-challenge.org.nz 

The New Zealand Government has announced a plan to ban smoking by 2025.

New legislation will mean people currently aged 14 and under will never be able to legally purchase tobacco.

The government also announced other measures to make smoking unaffordable and inaccessible. These include reducing the legal amount of nicotine in tobacco products to very low levels, cutting down the shops where cigarettes could legally be sold, and increasing funding to addiction services.

The law will see the legal smoking age increase every year. The plan is to create a smoke-free generation of New Zealanders, associate health minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said on Thursday.

“We want to make sure young people never start smoking so we will make it an offence to sell or supply smoked tobacco products to new cohorts of youth. People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco. This is a historic day for the health of our people,” she said.

The new laws will not restrict vape sales.

New Zealand smoking levels

New Zealand’s daily smoking rates have been dropping over time – down to 11.6% in 2018, from 18% a decade earlier. But smoking rates for Māori and Pacifika were far higher – 29% for Māori and 18% for Pasifika.

Smoking has already been widely replaced by vaping among teenage New Zealanders, and is also attracting many young people who would never have taken up smoking – according to surveying of 19,000 high school students this year, nearly 20% were vaping daily or several times a day, the majority with high nicotine doses. That’s compared to 3% of those aged 15-17 who smoked daily in 2018, or 13% who smoked a decade earlier.

A truck carrying a number of portaloos crashed yestersay afternoon in Hawke’s Bay.

Police, firefighters and council workers were called to the crash on Puketitiri Rd, between Poraiti Rd and Quarry Ridge, at about 5.15pm.

A police spokesman said the truck had left the road and the crash caused a huge mess. Thankfully the portaloos were not full at the time.

Hirepool said the driver of the truck was shaken, but safe and well.