State Highway 1 reopened following train incident, Ohau

Source: New Zealand Police (District News)

State highway 1 has now reopened following a fatal train incident in Ohau earlier tonight. 

A scene examination has been conducted. 

Those who were on the train and the victim’s family are being offered support.


Issued by Police Media Centre 

Fatal train incident, Ohau

Source: New Zealand Police (District News)

Police can now confirm one person has died after being struck by a train in Ohau, Horowhenua tonight.

Emergency services responded to the scene near State Highway 1 around 5:10pm.

The road is expected to remain closed for some time as we conduct a scene examination.

Police advise commuters to expect delays and take the alternate route.

Those who were on the train and the victim’s family are being offered support.


Issued by Police Media Centre 

New Zealand-China Business Summit

Source: New Zealand Government

Tēnā koutou katoa. Da jia hao.  Good morning everyone.  

Prime Minister Luxon, your excellency, a great friend of New Zealand and my friend Ambassador Wang, Mayor of what he tells me is the best city in New Zealand, Wayne Brown, the highly respected Fran O’Sullivan, Champion of the Auckland business community Simon Bridges, Dame Therese Walsh Chair of AirNZ,  Dame Fran Wilde Chair of Asia NZ Foundation, my hard-working colleagues MPs Nancy Lu and Carols Cheung, members of the diplomatic corps, members of the business community, distinguished speakers and guests, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you all this morning.  

This Summit is an opportunity for us to share perspectives and discuss the importance of the New Zealand – China relationship.

This year marks a significant occasion – the tenth anniversary of the signing of our Comprehensive Strategic Economic Partnership – possible in this very hotel – when President Xi last visited New Zealand – it is certainly an occasion worth marking.

Like China we attach great significance to the increased trade, enhance political respect, expanded practical cooperation, development, and people-to-people relations.

While we often discuss the changes in the China market, it is important to note upfront that the foundations supporting our bilateral trade relationship remain steadfast – these of course being our robust bilateral trade architecture, including our high-quality bilateral FTA (further upgraded in 2022), regular high-level political and official engagement, and our – or, in this case, your – strong business and people-to-people connections.

The first time I spoke at this conference was in 2018, where I was on a panel to discuss the tenth anniversary of the signing of the China-New Zealand FTA. Six years later it is my privilege to be here as the Minister for Trade.

This morning, I’ll share with you some reflections on the term so far, as well as insights from my recent visit to China.  I’ll then conclude with some comments on the Government’s target for doubling export growth and how China fits into that strategy.

Reflections so far

As we have just heard from Prime Minister Luxon, this Government is bringing energy and renewed urgency to our international partnerships.  

We are putting New Zealand back on the world stage, seeking new opportunities for our businesses, and making sure that we maximise the benefits to New Zealand in all our international relationships. New Zealand is well and truly open for business, and we are committed to supporting our businesses in this global marketplace.

However, even though we are export-oriented and trade-dependent, the contribution of exports to New Zealand’s GDP is not particularly high.  

And, in fact, the percentage of our GDP from exports has actually shrunk over the past 10 years. At 24% we are well down the list behind such countries as Singapore (187%), Ireland (137%) and Norway (56%). I don’t need to point out that it is no coincidence that these countries are all economically advanced and highly successful.

We need to change our relative position in these rankings and to achieve this we have a set an ambitious target of doubling exports, by value, within 10 years.

As an outward looking Government, we have resolved to renew and sustain New Zealand’s international relationships and have undertaken a busy schedule of both inwards and outwards visits to achieve this.

In this relatively short time, I have travelled to some of New Zealand’s key export destinations including India, Singapore, and of course, China.

As a small, export-oriented economy the importance of maintaining and growing these connections cannot be overstated. It is vital that New Zealand tells its stories and maintains its presence internationally.

On China

China is one of New Zealand’s most significant trade, economic and people to people relationships. An important destination for both New Zealand’s products and people, China accounted for nearly 22 per cent of our good and services exports in 2023 and with 58 recently resumed direct connections between our two countries our people-to-people connections continue to grow.

This is a significant partnership for both countries, and it is important we continue to support its growth and assist our exporters to grow New Zealand’s economy. New Zealand has placed a high value on direct interaction with our Chinese counterparts through successive governments from former Prime Minister Sir John Keys visit in 2008, to my most recently my trip to up in April.

As our largest export market, the China trade-relationship remains an incredibly important part of this picture.  

With a still growing middle class of over 500 million people there are significant opportunities for New Zealand. We continue to be a trusted and reliable supplier not only of high quality and safe dairy, meat and wood products to China, but also of innovative goods across health and nutrition, fitness and other sectors.

We are pleased to see a strong recovery in our services trade with China.

Prior to the pandemic, China was New Zealand’s second largest international visitor market. We are seeing a rebound in Chinese tourism to New Zealand, serviced by a return to 58 regular flights a week between New Zealand and China. Education links are also steadily recovering, with more than 21,000 Chinese students enrolled to study in New Zealand in the first eight months of 2023.

For this reason, and as part of this Government’s increased international engagement, it was important to me that I connected early with my Chinese counterparts.

I welcomed the opportunity to meet Commerce Minister Wang Wentao in Abu Dhabi on the margins of WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference, and then last month I had the opportunity to travel to China myself to build upon my discussions with Commerce Minister Wang.

On that note, and in keeping with today’s theme of ‘Navigating today’s China’, let me offer some reflections on my visit to China last month.

This was the first visit to China by the Government this term, and an important opportunity to strengthen relationships, support New Zealand exporters, and promote New Zealand businesses on the world stage.

I undertook meetings with my Ministerial counterparts in the Commerce, Agriculture, and Forestry portfolios, as well as engagements with the Governor of Heilongjiang Province and the Mayor of Shanghai.  

In my discussions with Commerce Minister, Wang Wentao, we spoke about our complementary trade relationship, progress achieved so far implementing the 2022 FTA Upgrade provisions, and other areas of bilateral cooperation including in support of business environment reforms in China, and intellectual property rights protection.

Likewise, my meetings with my Agricultural and Forestry counterparts provided opportunities to highlight current bilateral cooperation programmes.

Beyond Beijing, I had the opportunity to visit other provinces.  In Heilongjiang Province I witnessed an agriculture and forestry-based economy deploying its education, industrial and technological assets to create world-leading products and add value in industries as diverse as meat processing, farming machinery, and wooden window framing.

In Shanghai, I had the chance to hear from New Zealand businesses on the ground; to better understand the opportunities on offer, and to see how New Zealand businesses are innovating and adapting to meet today’s challenges.

I came away from China with a clear view that New Zealand is maintaining its reputation as a world-leading producer of safe, healthy, nutritious, natural and sustainable food products. But beyond that, I also see further opportunities for New Zealand businesses in a range of sectors – such as gaming, sustainability, and the creative sector.

What was also evident is that the landscape in the China market is changing rapidly – businesses on the ground are continuing to navigate changes in the regulatory environment; meanwhile many of our firms have seen rising labour costs.

Chinese consumer confidence has not rebounded as strongly as expected post- COVID. However, China is not a monolith, and this is not the whole story. Across some sectors – companies I have spoken to have seen stronger market recovery in China compared to others.

We’re also seeing a heightened focus by Chinese consumers on, for example, health and well-being, and a greater emphasis on e-commerce platforms.

There’s also greater competition in the market, including from local Chinese companies. New Zealand firms need to hustle to respond to these consumer trends and remain nimble and agile to stay ahead of competition.

And what’s more – the global economic landscape continues to evolve, including in ways that are detrimental to New Zealand’s interests.

The challenge of economic headwinds is not unique to China-New Zealand trade. The global economic environment continues to be challenging.

Geopolitical tensions and strategic competition are having ripple effects across trade policy internationally – with countries increasingly turning inwards and towards greater protectionism.

Unfortunately, as I have seen first-hand at the WTO and more recently at the OECD meetings, enthusiasm for trade liberalisation is weakening. And countries are turning to greater self-sufficiency and subsidisation.  

As the world becomes ever more complex and contested, so we must become more dynamic and resilient.

New Zealand needs to work harder to strengthen our supply chains, to maintain our edge offshore, and to make sure we’re well positioned to navigate the economic headwinds moving forward.

Double exports by value

As I mentioned, my visit to China formed part of our efforts to deliver on this Government’s commitment to double the value of our exports over 10 years and to turn the country into an exporting powerhouse.

The best way we can ensure long-term advances in our living standards is by connecting New Zealand firms with international consumers. We must think and act boldly.

This is an ambitious target, and business-as-usual just won’t get us there.  

So how will we achieve this ambitious goal?

For a start, we need to take full advantage of the opportunities in our existing free trade agreements, which currently cover over 70 percent of our goods trade.

As I mentioned, exports as a percentage of GDP have actually shrunk over the past 10 years. So, we need more businesses to take up the opportunities from our trade agreements, which can drive them to grow, expand, and provide well-paying jobs for New Zealanders.  

For example, there is more we can do to help our businesses take full advantage of our long-standing FTA with China.

We must be relentless in tackling non-tariff barriers, which can affect billions of dollars’ worth of our exports and can artificially limit our market opportunities.

We also need to build our capacity and capability here at home, to better take advantage of these opportunities. This means ensuring that our policy settings around skills and education, infrastructure, and R&D are all aligned and supporting New Zealand companies to move up the value-chain.

Because that is what export double is about – increasing the value of our exports.

For too long, New Zealand’s gains in trade have come from increasing volume, rather than increasing processing and value-add. This has to change.  

It also means addressing regulatory settings that disproportionately constrain production and discourage investment into our companies.

Strengthening our connections with key markets will remain crucial.

China is a critical element in our strategy to double our export value. With tariff free access for all New Zealand goods into China, and a burgeoning services trade, our economic relationship continues to flourish.  We will continue to harness the opportunities presented in the China market.

While we remain fundamentally committed to developing our trade and economic relationship with China it is also vital that we work to spread our exposure across many markets: pursuing diversification and working hard to open as many doors as possible worldwide.

I’m excited to say that we are on the way towards undertaking more trade and business missions during this term than any other previous New Zealand Government and I hope to lead one to the Shanghai Expo late in the year.

This is the essence of our ‘China and…’ approach.

Let’s take India, for example. Developing a broad-based relationship with India across all spheres is a strategic priority for this Government. As part of this objective, I am committed to delivering a commercially meaningful FTA that opens this market to Kiwi exporters.

We are also pursuing trade agreements with other key partners, including the UAE, which I formally announced earlier this month, and with the GCC.  

Doubling exports will not be easy, and this is a journey that will require a collective lift from all of you in this room, with the government leaning in to help build your international connections and enable that growth.

We will support research and development that will help the export economy to grow. This will allow our areas such as our world-leading agricultural sector to become more productive and innovative than ever before.

We will build the infrastructure to support this shift – this Government is determined to lay strong foundations for future growth, and infrastructure is a key element of this vision. 

Concluding remarks

This is just the opening in our increased engagement with the world, of which China will remain a significant market. This Government is committed to a dynamic and energetic approach to the world and will remain nimble and resilient in our relationships.  

As part of my international engagement, I look forward to visiting China again later this year.

This Government will continue to look for opportunities for high-level engagements and to drive efforts that support New Zealand exporters and businesses.

Xie xie, thank you.

Government to rollout roadside drug testing

Source: New Zealand Government

The Coalition Government will introduce legislation this year that will enable roadside drug testing as part of our commitment to improve road safety and restore law and order, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says. 

“Alcohol and drugs are the number one contributing factor in fatal road crashes in New Zealand. In 2022, alcohol and drugs were contributors to 200 fatal crashes on our roads. Despite this, only 26 percent of drivers think they are likely to be caught drug driving.

“The previous government passed legislation to introduce roadside drug testing, however two years later, no progress has been made as the legislation was flawed and unworkable as the roadside tests needed to be suitable for evidentiary standards, rather than screening standards,” Mr Brown says.

Speaking at the launch of Road Safety Week, Mr Brown said that legislation will be introduced this year to give Police the power to randomly screen drivers for drugs at the roadside using oral fluid testing devices,  similar to drink-driving enforcement.

“Oral fluid testing is common overseas and is an easy way to screen for drugs at the roadside. Our approach will bring New Zealand in line with Australian legislation and will remove unnecessary barriers that have delayed the fight against drug driving.  

The Coalition Government is committed to giving Police the tools they need to improve the detection of drug driving and will set targets for Police to undertake 50,000 oral fluid tests per year once roadside drug testing is implemented.

“For too long, drug drivers have put other road users at risk with very limited enforcement. Those days are over, and anyone driving while impaired by drugs can expect to be caught and face serious consequences under our drug testing regime.”

Legislation is expected to be introduced to Parliament by the middle of the year and passed towards the end of 2024.

Road Safety – Survey data shows young passengers react positively to safe road behaviour

Source: Road Safety Education Limited

In a landmark study of over 860 students participating in Australia and New Zealand’s largest road safety education program, RYDA, students have clearly shown the driver behaviours that make them feel safe, and those they rate negatively.

The RYDA program helps turn our next generation of drivers and their passengers into road safety heroes. To mark National Road Safety week, we asked our students to tell us what a road safety hero looks like to them. Tying into the theme of “What’s your Hero move?” we asked students what hero moves they like to see others doing and also what behaviours they don’t like.

The most highly rated road use behaviour from students was pulling over and resting when tired, closely followed by doing simple safety checks such as checking tyre pressure and tread. Other highly rated behaviours include turning the phone off, leaving a sufficient gap behind the car in front, planning ahead to reduce the temptation for speeding, and slowing down in the rain.

On the flip side, the most poorly rated behaviours include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, using a phone while driving, not wearing seatbelts, and speeding at all levels.

The survey, conducted towards the end of RYDA workshops, reflects some of the many road safety strategies and messages students learn throughout the program. With over 60% of respondents already on their Learner licence, and the rest approaching that stage, the attitudes demonstrated are at a time when passengers are focusing more than ever before on driver behaviour. It builds on research conducted last year with RYDA students on experiences on the road highlighting the need for reducing the level of aggression shown towards our learner and novice drivers.

Maria Lovelock, General Manager New Zealand and Group Engagement, states that “What this shows is that passengers want their drivers to put safety above all else. Road safety ‘hero’ moves included simple measures such as removing the temptation to use phones while driving, leaving enough space between cars, making sure the driver is in the right frame of mind to be behind the wheel, and listening to concerns raised by passengers.”

“During National Road Safety Week, Tuesday is the day we focus on youth road safety, so it is a timely reminder for all drivers on their responsibility to model positive road safety behaviour, especially towards the next generation of drivers.”

This research indicates that young people know what they want to see on the road, and what makes them feel uncomfortable and unsafe. It also shows how important listening to the concerns of passengers’ concerns is to creating a positive environment on the road.

“We are especially pleased to see that the behaviour young road users look for in their peers is so heavily skewed towards safety. The negative view that youths have towards speeding, phone use and driving under the influence is a strong sign that the culture is turning towards seeing road use as a social responsibility.”

Road Safety Education Limited (RSE) is the provider of RYDA, a road safety program comprising workshops and classroom lessons using a whole of school approach targeting senior high school students. RYDA includes a full-day workshop, delivered to approximately 60,000 year 11 and 12 students within their year groups throughout Australia and New Zealand, as well as a range of pre and post workshop individual and class activities. Parents can also participate in Drive Coach, a free information session helping them support teen drivers that is being launched in Tasmania this week as part of National Road Safety Week. RYDA is delivered with support from RSE’s corporate sponsors including BOC, New Zealand Steel, Bridgestone, vtnz and Toyota, as well as support from our community partner, Rotary through their clubs throughout New Zealand.

Summary of responses from students

If you were a passenger and the driver was doing any of the following, rate how you’d feel about their actions?(Please tick the box between 1 and 7 where 1 is very negatively and 7 is very positively)












All Negative

Very Negatively


Slightly Negatively

Neither Positively nor Negatively

Slightly Positively


Very Positively

All Positive

Reading a message on a smart phone while driving










Departing late, but making up for lost time by driving just a little bit over the speed limit










Driving over the speed limit, but knowing where all the speed cameras are to avoid getting caught










They don’t wear, or make you wear, a seatbelt if it is just a short trip










Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol










Before departing, calling ahead to let the people at the destination know you are running late










When they are angry or stressed, holding off driving until they have calmed down










Pulling over somewhere safe to rest for 15-20 minutes because they were tired










Doing a quick check of tyre pressure and tread when you’re at the petrol station










Leaving a big gap between your car and the car in front, even if some cars pull into that space










Pulling over when it is raining so heavily that you can’t see more than 50 metres in front










Leaving 1.5 metres between the car and a person on a bicycle when overtaking them










Turning their phone off or onto ‘do not disturb’ mode when they are driving










About Road Safety Education Limited: Road Safety Education Limited is a not-for-profit organisation which runs best practice road safety programs for young people through Australia and New Zealand.  Every year, tens of thousands of young people participate in their RYDA program which aims to change the way they think and act on the roads, both as drivers and passengers. To date, over 775,000 young people have participated RYDA. For more information, visit

Taxation – No Tax Cuts at Cost of Spending Cuts – Voters

Source: Better taxes for a Better Future

20 May 2024 – Aotearoa’s voting public are not keen on massive cuts to public spending and services simply to fund government tax cuts.

That is a key take away from poll findings set to be presented by political scientist Dr Terence Wood tomorrow, Tuesday 21 May at an event hosted by Tax Justice Aotearoa.    

The public opinion poll, commissioned by the Better taxes for a Better Future campaign, surveyed a representative sample of more than 1,000 New Zealanders prior to last year’s election.

Dr Terence Wood, Fellow at Australia National University’s Development Policy Centre, was one of the poll’s designers and is a Tax Justice Aotearoa board member. He has conducted an in-depth analysis of the results, published this week: (ref. )

Dr Wood says one clear message from the poll data was that while New Zealanders might not like paying tax, very few wanted tax cuts if it meant cuts to essential spending.

“Only 2% of New Zealanders wanted public spending cut to fund tax cuts. More than that, only 10% of New Zealanders wanted public spending and taxes to stay at current levels,” Dr Wood says.

He says the appetite for spending cuts was low across the political spectrum.

“Only 12% of ACT voters with an opinion on the matter wanted spending on core services to be cut or stay the same.”

Dr Wood said the findings also showed a large majority of poll respondents wanted more affluent New Zealanders to pay more tax than they do at present.

“61% of respondents said they want a more progressive tax system.”

Dr Wood says he was particularly surprised to see support for progressive tax reform across the political spectrum.

“While support was higher for this on the left than on the right, about half of ACT voters wanted a more progressive tax system – and more than two thirds of New Zealand First voters who had an opinion said they wanted those at the top to pay more.”

Dr Wood says the other key point from the poll was just how open New Zealanders were to new forms of tax.

“Nearly 80% of New Zealanders want an excess profits tax – and while there was some uncertainty about a wealth tax, more than half of those surveyed favoured introduction of a wealth tax as part of a tax switch”.

More information on Dr Wood’s presentation and others in TJA’s latest series: (ref. )

The Better taxes for a Better Future coalition is a grouping of more than 20 organisations committed to progressive tax reform and co-ordinated by Tax Justice Aotearoa.

Insurance Sector – Tower wins Canstar’s Home & Contents Insurer of the Year Award for its great policies and prices

Source: Canstar

May 20, 2024: Increased building costs, inflation and more frequent extreme weather events have caused the cost of home and contents insurance to spike. Therefore, it’s never been more important for Kiwi homeowners to ensure they’ve the right level of home and contents insurance in place, and that it comes at an affordable price.

So, to assist Kiwi consumers make the right decisions about their home and contents insurance, each year, Canstar compares and analyses all the main insurance players in the New Zealand market, to assess which provide the best value products and levels of customer service.

And this year, Canstar is proud to announce Tower as the winner of its Home and Contents Insurer of the Year Award. Our expert research panel noted the outstanding value offered by Tower’s insurance products, especially its Standard and Plus policy options, which feature comprehensive insurance cover at affordable prices.

Canstar’s panel also noted Tower’s strong performance when it comes to events cover – including floods, storms and earthquakes – which is particularly relevant for many Kiwi households.

Tom Slee, Canstar Group Manager – Wealth, Health & New Zealand said of Tower’s award win, “Over the past year, many Kiwi households have seen the cost of their home and contents insurance increase at rates well above inflation.

“Rising building costs, an industry-wide focus on risk-based pricing and extreme weather events have conspired to push up premiums for many homeowners. So, we hope our research and award informs New Zealanders about which insurance provider offers the best levels of cover, customer service and overall value for money.

“To this end, we commend Tower for its award win. It’s a great result for Tower’s range of insurance products, which help deliver Kiwi homeowners peace of mind in times of great stress.”

Blair Turnbull, Tower CEO said as a Kiwi born and bred business, Tower is committed to helping protect New Zealand communities with insurance now and in the future.

“In the face of climate change insurance has never been more important to ensure our personal and economic resilience. That’s why we’re offering customers innovative products and tools like our hazard

ratings, which give homeowners more information about the risks their homes face, and features such as ‘ways to save’ in My Tower, our self-service digital platform.

“Our teams work hard to deliver fair and transparent insurance products for our customers and are constantly reviewing our pricing to ensure insurance remains affordable and accessible for Kiwi households. We’re absolutely thrilled to be named Canstar Home and Contents Insurer of the Year.”

Canstar’s Home & Contents Insurer of the Year Award

Canstar’s Insurer of the Year Award is based its Outstanding Value Home & Contents Insurance Awards, which utilise a sophisticated and unique ratings methodology that compares both costs and features across insurance policies.

The Insurer of the Year Award recognises the insurer that provides its customers outstanding value through its product and service offerings, as well as its levels of customer satisfaction. The satisfaction component uses survey responses from home and contents insurance customers who have rated their providers across the five key customer satisfaction metrics of customer service, value for money, comprehensiveness of cover, communication and cost.

As the winner of Canstar’s Insurer of the Year Award 2024, Tower is also a recipient of one of Canstar’s Outstanding Value Home & Contents Insurance Awards.

Social Issues – Public housing advocates warn Government’s review of Kāinga Ora must not usher in new era of privatisation by stealth

Source: Child Poverty Action Group

A review led by Bill English into Kāinga Ora has been described by public housing advocates as a way to reduce the state’s role in public housing, despite overwhelming evidence suggesting we need the state to build more state-owned houses to solve the housing crisis.
The Luxon-led government has said it won’t sell off state houses. However the Bill English report makes recommendations to create community housing associations, which Public Housing Futures and Child Poverty Action Group warn could see the state withdraw from building the public homes we need.
New Zealand has the lowest level of public housing in the OECD with public housing stock just 3.4% of all housing. The OECD average is 7%, and the Netherlands 34.1%.
Under the previous National-led government Mr English was involved in a programme to privatise state housing and shrink Government responsibility through transfers to third party providers, evicting tenants after reviewing eligibility, and selling land to private developers.
“No matter where you look globally, the evidence is clear – public housing is the only lasting solution to our housing crisis, yet successive governments have under-maintained and under-resourced the programme, prioritising private market profits over making sure that everyone has a home,” says Vanessa Cole, spokesperson for Public Housing Futures.
“We need more public housing, not more social housing. The real risk is that the Government will usher in privatisation by stealth by reducing their role in building public housing, and opening up low-income housing to private providers and investors. This will be to the detriment of stable and affordable homes for everyone,” says Ms Cole.
“Increasing the role of private market players in our public housing landscape is effectively the Government subsidising the private market with no guarantee of long-term, stable and affordable housing for people,” says Ms Cole.
Kāinga Ora was forced to borrow and sell off land in state housing neighbourhoods in order to pay for years of neglect.
Kāinga Ora, under the previous government, began to build houses again and it is important to maintain this in order to achieve a greater presence of public rental housing in the housing landscape.
“If we put things into perspective, the debt that Kāinga Ora has is essentially an accounting convention. The government could have funded it as equity. This debt is Government-backed so its current level is unlikely to concern financial markets, and its so-called sustainability dep

Housing Reform – Accessible Properties welcomes Kāinga Ora review

Source: Accessible Properties

Accessible Properties welcomes the Government’s commitment to increase the provision of desperately needed homes by community housing providers.

Chief Executive Greg Orchard says the review’s recommendations provide a pathway to a stable social housing system that will help people build a platform for their future.

“Addressing barriers to delivery and making sure homes are built where they’re most needed are critical for a stable social housing system.

“Implementing alternative delivery models for management of Kāinga Ora stock and providing a level playing field for social housing will also support a system that makes a real difference to vulnerable New Zealanders.

“The need is urgent. Accessible Properties is the largest community housing provider in New Zealand. In a positive regulatory framework we have the resources and the experience to build homes that will also build strong, resilient and sustainable communities.

“In short, this can change people’s lives.”

About Accessible Properties

Accessible Properties is a registered Community Housing Provider, is a charitable organisation and manages a social housing portfolio with more than 2,700 properties throughout the country. We are focused on providing tenancy services that mean greater engagement from tenancy managers and includes connecting people with any community and social support services they may need. Accessible Properties has been in social housing for more than 65 years and is a wholly owned subsidiary of IHC New Zealand.  

Health Investigation – Information about myocarditis risk from Comirnaty vaccine not clearly highlighted or communicated 22HDC02256

Source: Health and Disability Commissioner

Please note, this report involves a prima facie (1) breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (the Code). 
Health and Disability Commissioner Morag McDowell has today released a report relating to the vaccination of a man in his twenties who died from myocarditis found, by the Coroner, to have been directly caused by the Comirnaty (Pfizer/BioNTech) COVID-19 vaccine.
Following his vaccination at a pharmacy, the man experienced chest discomfort and heart flutters. Apparently unaware that myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) was a potentially serious side effect of the vaccine, the man experienced these symptoms for 12 days before making the decision to go to hospital. Tragically, he collapsed and died before he got there.
During his vaccination the man was informed of the common, but not the potentially serious, side effects of the vaccine. In the specific circumstances failing to provide this information was a prima facie breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (the Code).
Ms McDowell was satisfied that the risk of myocarditis was intended by official agencies to be communicated to consumers as part of the consent process and that consumers were also to be given safety-netting advice about myocarditis symptoms following their vaccination.
However, Ms McDowell concluded that, in light of significant mitigating factors, it would be disproportionately harsh to find the pharmacy in breach of the Code, and that an educational approach was more appropriate.
Ms McDowell also noted that that the Comirnaty vaccine was, at the time, relatively new and new information about its use, risk and side effects was still forthcoming.
The broader public context was also relevant for this case, Ms McDowell said. The event took place during the unprecedented international and national response prompted by the pandemic which was accompanied by a concurrent steady flow of information from official sources.
However, she found that none of the sources of official information explicitly required vaccinators to disclose the risk of myocarditis as part of the informed consent process prior to vaccination. She also noted there was evidence that the importance of new information, relative to other information, was not made clear to vaccination providers.
“Given the seriousness of the risk of myocarditis and the information volume, one could reasonably expect that in communication to the providers the risk would be emphasised or highlighted in some way,” she said.
While she did not find the pharmacy in breach of the Code, Ms McDowell was critical that it did not update its standard operating procedure to ensure consumers were given adequate safety netting advice about the risk of the symptoms of myocarditis to look out for.
She also made an adverse comment about the pharmacist who vaccinated the man, but similarly did not find her in breach due to the mitigating factors outlined.
Ms McDowell made an educational comment to Manatū Hauora│Ministry of Health, stating that, in relation to the Comirnaty vaccine it needed to provide clear and unambiguous guidance to vaccinating providers about what and when they needed to tell consumers about myocarditis.
This was particularly relevant following the first death in New Zealand from myocarditis following the Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine, which occurred prior to this event.
Ms McDowell made a number of recommendations, outlined in the report, for both the pharmacy and Te Whatu Ora (given that the National Immunisation Programme is now part of Te Whatu Ora rather than Manatū Hauora).