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Category Archives: Jacinda Ardern

Against all odds: how New Zealand is bending the Delta curve – The Guardian

Posted: September 12, 2021 at 9:05 am

Less than a month ago, New Zealanders disappeared into their homes, retracting from the public domain like spilled water into a dry sponge. The motorways and city streets stood mostly empty, shops closed, schools and playgrounds were deserted. A single case of the highly contagious Delta variant had been detected and the government called a snap level-4 lockdown, introducing some of the strictest restrictions in the world.

It was a new threat for a country whose Covid-zero pandemic response had been ranked one of the best globally. New Zealand had never faced a Delta outbreak before, and no one knew if its past strategies would prove up to the task.

Across the Tasman, a bleak picture was emerging: Australia, like New Zealand, had maintained a zero-Covid elimination strategy throughout the first year of the pandemic but was now struggling with outbreaks in New South Wales and Victoria. Both countries had less than a third of their total populations immunised. With cases in NSW now regularly hitting more than 1,400 a day, the state provided a stark worst-case scenario of what New Zealand might see.

But now, against all odds, New Zealand is bending the Delta curve.

Its looking very good for ending this outbreak, says Prof Michael Baker, an epidemiologist and public health expert. I wouldnt say absolute certainty, but its now far more a matter of when, rather than if.

Left alone or managed half-heartedly, the Delta variants exponential growth quickly turns a trend line vertical. For many countries in the midst of outbreaks, the goal is to change that precipice to an incline distributing the peak over a longer period so that health systems dont collapse, resulting in needless deaths. In New Zealand, and for a few other Covid-zero Asia-Pacific states, the goal is more ambitious. They aimed to not only ease down the growth line, but to bend the curve completely, forcing case numbers back to zero and wiping out transmission completely. Today, just under a month from when the variant arrived in New Zealand, that goal suddenly looks within reach.

After peaking at the end of August at 83 cases a day, cases have been steadily tracking down daily numbers havent passed 21 over the past week. Midweek, they dropped to 15, and then to 13, then 11. Modellers predict that barring disaster cases should hit single digits next week. Auckland, the centre of the outbreak, remains at alert level 4. But most of the country left a hard lockdown on Wednesday, flocking back to restaurants, cafes and schools.

It hasnt been an easy path. In August, as the outbreak began, Baker told the Guardian it was an infectious disease experts nightmare. Nightclubs, churches, restaurants, hospitals, schools the list of exposure events read like a checklist of every high-infection-risk gathering imaginable.

It also hasnt been a path free of naysayers. Internationally, some parties portrayed the response at first as an overreaction disproportionate to case numbers and later, as case numbers climbed, as a hopeless, futile effort in the face of a variant that had overwhelmed others defences.

Any state and territory that thinks that somehow they can protect themselves from Covid with the Delta strain forever, thats just absurd, the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, said. New Zealand cant do that. They were following an elimination strategy. Theyre in lockdown.

But New Zealands government has so far been unwavering in its commitment to elimination a strategy that has allowed residents to maintain a life of relative normalcy for most of the past year. The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said: While we know that Delta is a more dangerous enemy to combat, the same actions that overcame the virus last year can be applied to beat it again.

Experts say the same essential toolkit is working.

I think we can say, more or less, that our alert level 4 has got the measure of Delta, says Prof Shaun Hendy, epidemic modeller for research centre Te Pnaha Matatini.

Early on, we were trying to think about how effective alert level 4 would be, and were thinking it could be substantially less effective against Delta over what we saw in the March, April outbreak, he says. But actually its been very similar performance has been helped by the vaccination rates, no doubt. But basically its worked almost as well as it did last year. A couple of weeks on, it does look like were on track to eliminate the outbreak.

Compared to previous outbreaks, this has been an order of magnitude more severe and has really tested our systems, Hendy says. Our systems, you can never say that theyre good enough. But in this case, weve just lifted our game enough that weve brought this under control.

The trajectory of the latest outbreak can also provide a certain amount of reassurance for New Zealand that the countrys go hard and go early strategy can contain a Delta outbreak.

New Zealand also has the opportunity to learn something from Australias experience.

At the moment, I think its a cautionary tale for us, says Dr Siouxsie Wiles, a microbiologist and one of New Zealands central pandemic communicators. They show what happens if you dont control transmission. And I guess what they have shown also is if the virus gets into essential workers and their workplace.

Experts are careful to warn that there is still a long road ahead as well as absolute numbers declining, New Zealand also needs to push up the percentage of cases without exposure events, or that are isolated for the duration of their infectious period. If we see declining numbers but we also have several days seeing no unexpected cases, thats very reassuring, Baker says.

If New Zealand does successfully eliminate the Delta variant, it still raises questions of what next for a country that has used extremely strict border controls to remain Covid-free thus far. The government had released a tentative plan for reopening just days before the outbreak began. But on Wednesday, the Covid-19 response minister, Chris Hipkins, said that might need to be re-evaluated. It would be fair to say that Delta has actually changed some of the thinking about that, even in the last few weeks, he said. Delta has changed the game.

New Zealands elimination strategy means it has avoided most of the economic, social and public health toll of Covid so far. If New Zealand manages to wipe out Delta again in the coming weeks, that is an advantage it may seek to hang on to.

Were in the privileged position of just a few countries on Earth that excluded the virus, Baker says. We can keep options open. We are choosing when to engage with the virus, whereas most of the world has no choice. I would be loth for us to surrender that advantage weve got, until were ready to do it on our terms.

Im very optimistic that we can get to elimination, Wiles says. She pauses, then amends to: I guess cautiously optimistic.

We are in this position because of one case, and so we just have to be really mindful of that. One case could be all it takes.

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Against all odds: how New Zealand is bending the Delta curve - The Guardian

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New Zealand marks 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks – The Siasat Daily

Posted: at 9:05 am

New Zealand is expressing unity with all victims, families, and loved ones affected by the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks, and all terrorist attacks around the world since, including in New Zealand.

Saturday marks twenty years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, which killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, and influenced global politics for the ensuing decades, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

I was in the United States on 9/11, and its a day Ill never forget. I still have the front pages of the newspapers from that time because it instantly felt like a moment from which everything would change.

I saw first hand the shock and fear that goes hand in hand with terrorism.

In New Zealand we saw similar motivations in the March 15 attacks in Christchurch where a terrorist used the tactic of livestreaming his attack on the internet to amplify his hate.

That experience is why New Zealand has chosen to play a leading role in tackling online violent extremism.

Our work on the Christchuhrch Call alongside other countries including the US and the global tech giants seeks to prevent future attacks and limit the role the internet plays in the radicalisation of individuals.

Ultimately our greatest defence against terrorism is to build diverse, inclusive societies in which we welcome and celebrate difference and where violent extremist ideologies of any kind are rejected.

As the Imam of Al Noor mosque recently said in response to our most recent terror attack, all terrorists are the same, regardless of their ideology, they stand for hate and we all stand for peace and love. May that be a legacy we all work hard to continue, Jacinda Ardern said.

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New Zealand marks 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks - The Siasat Daily

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Parliament hails the returning heroes – RNZ

Posted: at 9:05 am

This week Parliament got back beyond the basics. It even devoted time to a unanimous ovation for our paralympians.

There was more action in Parliaments debating chamber this week than the first week under level3-4. The first week back the House only performed its government oversight function.

This week it also did that but managed other things like passing a Budget and hailing conquering heroes returned from what seem at the moment to be fantasticallyfar-off lands.


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern began Thursday with an all party round of congratulations.

I want to, on behalf of the government, acknowledge all of the paralympians who were members of the team competing in Tokyo, and congratulate them collectively on their achievements.

Every now and then the House begins its day by marking an historic (or historical) event or a particularly impressive performance on the international stage. This week it was the New Zealand Paralympic team that got that treatment. A good 15 minutes of rave reviews.

The team is now all tucked cosily away in MIQ but I hope they were watching in their hotel rooms - there arent many people or groups that get universally glowing references from across the political spectrum.

Not many people have the MPs describe their behaviour and skills so enthusiastically - or at all. Here is a taste of the praise.

This truly has been a Paralympics that has captured hearts and minds of New Zealanders and provided countless hours of incredible and inspiring sporting moments I hope that you achieved and even exceeded your aims. Your friends, your family, and the rest of New Zealand are so proud of you, and were right behind you, cheering you on. - Jacinda Ardern (Labour)

They've made us extremely proud, and are an inspiration to all New Zealanders. Thank you for showing us that achievement is limitless, and can I say, personally, I am very much looking forward to welcoming you home, as much as I enjoyed farewelling you as you endeavoured to achieve greatness. - Jacinda Ardern

At a time when good news is hard to come by, it's great to see Kiwis performing so admirably on the world stage. New Zealand's tally of 12 medals, six of them gold, at the Tokyo games again proves just how much we punch above our weight when it comes to world sport. - Judith Collins (National)

It has been another memorable games for our incredible and inspiring paralympians. These world-class athletes who have let nothing stand in the way of success. In many cases, they have overcome enormous hurdles to be the best, and have never let disability define them. These are our heroes, and we salute all who took part. - Judith Collins

Firstly, I'd like to acknowledge all 29 athletes who made it, and those who didn't make it because of difficulties qualifying in the midst of a global pandemic. Elite athletes seem to me like a bit of a breed apart from the rest of us, demonstrating such determination, sacrifice; just sheers guts, as well as that illusive thing called athletic prowess. They say, though, much of the success comes down to mental attitude, and I suspect that has been more true this year than in any other year, what with the delay, breaks in training, and a loss of audience and the usual supports. - Jan Logie (Green)

I think the Paralympics, particularly in a time like this when our little country has faced a lot of bad newsperhaps one of the most beautiful and uplifting things that happen: they show what people can achieve when they put their mind to it. They show what an exceptional country New Zealand is, for its competitiveness and for its ability to get out there and make a difference, no matter who we are. David Seymour - ACT

Opening ceremony flag bearer Sophie Pascoe with closing ceremony flag bearer Stacey Michelsen, in 2018. Photo: Instagram /Sophie Pascoe

The team was praised, medalists were named and renamed, nervous moments were recalled;but one paralympian was focussed on by all speakers - Sophie Pascoe.

Among the achievements, it is hard to go past New Zealand's greatest paralympian, Sophie Pascoe. She once again showed the world what an absolute champion she is Sophie is a legend: a dedicated trainer, a tough competitor, a leader, and a mentor. She is truly one of our finest ever sportspeople. - Jacinda Ardern

Of course, special recognition must go to Sophie Pascoe, our greatest ever paralympian. With two golds, a silver, and a bronze in Tokyo, Sophie is one of this country's greatest ever athletes. It's testament to her pursuit of excellence that she was in tears after taking bronze in the 100-metre backstroke final. Such was her determination and drive to be the best, third was below her own high standards. - Judith Collins

the legend Sophie Pascoe, who left everything in the pool, and a bit more on the side. She brought home two golds, a silver, and bronze after almost pulling out just weeks before the games because she'd not been able to compete in an international competition for almost two years and it had been months since she had been in a serious competition. She said at one point she felt she had let us down. I want to say clearly in this House: Sophie, you did not let us down, you did us bloody proud. - Jan Logie

Special congratulations, of course, must go to New Zealand's greatest paralympian. Sophie Pascoe returned the biggest individual medal haul, bringing home four, or one in three, of all of the country's medal two golds, a silver, and a bronze from five events. She now sits on a career tally of 19. - David Seymour

And along with all the praise Green MP Jan Logie had one or two other things to note. Firstly about the level of TV coverage.

As a country stuck to our couches with our chippies and beers, we cheered them on, and they all made us so proud. To be honest, we would have liked to see more of them, and the Greens will advocate for better TV coverage for the next games.

And also about usingthe games as an example for reorienting our own society.

Finally, I also want to acknowledge the words of Chef de Mission Paula Tesoriero describing the paralympic village: "There are more people like me, no awkward stares, and most things are accessible. I wish the rest of the world could be like that. More social inclusion, greater accessibility." So as the ultimate tribute to our athletes, let's all take an action to make our country more inclusive, #lifeshouldn'tbeanOlympicstruggle.

That was how the House began on Thursday, before it got down to the more typical Question Time and finishing off its long consideration of this years Budget.


Parliament hails the returning heroes - RNZ

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Judith Collins probes Jacinda Ardern on when ‘use of lockdowns’, ‘gathering size limits’ won’t be required – Newshub

Posted: September 10, 2021 at 6:19 am

"Where our experts have really cautioned is just putting a single number on it, and I can see why, when you look at some countries which many members in this House hold up as being beacons of vaccination programmes.

"Most of them still have restrictions in place in some form and many of them sit somewhere between 70 to 80 percent vaccination rates.

"So yes, we do want to see an end to those, but we haven't put a number on it. We want to encourage everyone to be vaccinated as soon as possible."

New South Wales, the Australian state registering more than 1000 COVID-19 cases a day, is preparing to reduce restrictions in October regardless of the 1151 cases currently in hospital and 139 deaths since June.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said last week life would feel "very much more normal" by mid-October when the state is expected to achieve its 70 percent vaccination milestone, which would allow freedoms for vaccinated residents in some areas.

The UK removed all limits on mixing and allowed venues like nightclubs and sports stadiums to open at full capacity starting on July 19, a day often referred to as "freedom day".

Face masks are no longer required apart from in a few specific locations, such as airports and hospitals, and fully vaccinated people don't need to quarantine after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive.

But the freedoms come at a high cost. The UK is still averaging around 90 deaths a day from COVID-19, with about 64 percent of the entire population fully vaccinated with two doses of vaccine.

New Zealand, by comparison, has fully vaccinated 27 percent of the population, with just over half having received at least one dose.

Collins asked Ardern if the current lockdown would have been necessary if the Government had managed to secure vaccines from Pfizer earlier, with New Zealand one of the last in the OECD to experience its peak.

"No, I absolutely disagree with that sentence, for two reasons," Ardern said.

"First of all, countries that started their vaccination programmes in earnest in February and even peaked around April or May in some cases still have restrictions in place - they still have gathering limits in place, they still have things that are constraining their everyday lives, and in those places where they don't have that, they have record hospitalisations, so I think it's an overly simplistic analysis.

"The second issue I would point out to the member, is the only thing that has constrained our vaccine rollout has been supply.

"We have had in place an order in place with Pfizer that covers our whole population. Pfizer has determined globally who receives their supply and when.

"So regardless, we got allocations for quarter one, two, three and four, and as with many countries, the bulk of ours are coming in quarter four, which is why we always designed a vaccine programme that factored that in."

Ardern confirmed the Government is finalising a deal with "multiple countries" to get additional doses of Pfizer into New Zealand this month to keep up with high demand, before the bulk of supply arrives in October.

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Judith Collins probes Jacinda Ardern on when 'use of lockdowns', 'gathering size limits' won't be required - Newshub

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Covid-19: The 1pm update review – Spain rides to the Government’s rescue –

Posted: at 6:19 am

ANALYSIS: Spain has never been all that high on New Zealands Christmas list.

It is literally on the opposite side of the world, and has historically not been a great importer of our various proteins.

But Covid-19 has scrambled plenty of old truths, and we can now thank Spain as one of two countries that have helped us out of a tight spot. The other will remain a mystery until next week.

Spain, and its dashing prime minister, allowed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to present that rarest of things for a 1pm press conference in the middle of an outbreak: Good news.

READ MORE:* Covid-19 live: Kiwis have 'wind in our sails' with vaccination campaign* Covid-19 NZ: Government buys 250,000 extra Pfizer vaccine doses from Spain, another deal in works


Jacinda Ardern with Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez (File photo).

Ardern announced that New Zealand would be buying 250,000 doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from Spain, with the shipment set to arrive on Friday morning.

Alongside another larger and as-yet unsigned deal with an unknown country, this will get the country through a looming supply shortage set to hit in late-September.

That supply shortage wasnt huge it would have restricted the Government to 50,000 doses a day, instead of the 70,000-odd it is doing now so it doesnt need a giant amount of extra doses to get through.

But it would have been extremely damaging politically for the Government to have shown that it can do vaccinations at a huge scale about 1.8 per cent of the population in a single day at some points only to scale that down in the middle of an outbreak because it hadnt ordered the vaccines early enough. (Ironically, just as the news of these deals has firmed up in recent days, the actual rate of vaccinations have dropped back down a bit about 10,000 fewer doses a day on average.)

Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Spanish PM Pedro Snchez.

So Spain got Ardern out of a tough spot. She wasnt afraid to admit that her pre-existing personal relationship with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Snchez may have helped.

Snchez and Ardern have a reasonable amount in common, both having helped resurrect social democratic parties that were circling the dustbin of history while younger parties to the left of them snipped at their heels.

But goodwill was not all it took: Ardern also made clear that New Zealand had spent some money more than the list price Pfizer offers. The deal was in good faith which presumably means we werent absolutely gouged, but you never know.

Spain, it should be said, can stand to send over 250,000 doses. At the height of its vaccine roll-out it was administering twice that many doses every day. And having fully vaccinated well over 70 per cent of its population, its now hit a bit of a wall - with more doses than there appears to be immediate demand for.

It wasnt all good news at the podium, however.

While there were just 13 new community cases on Thursday, the Government revealed that six of Wednesdays cases were out in the community while infectious. The more days that number is above zero, the longer Auckland will have to stay in lockdown.

The number of unlinked or mystery cases also grew by six to 30 cases. These are people who have Covid-19 but no clear link to another case. Hopefully those six cases will be cleared up soon, but some unlinked cases do seem to be sticking around. There were 25 as of yesterday, meaning just one mystery got solved overnight. Of that 25, 14 are from before August 31, meaning their link to the outbreak was quite a while ago and hopefully came before level 4.

The Ministry of Health is focusing more of its efforts on the cases from about a week to a week and a half ago notably nine cases found between August 31 and September 4. The timing suggests these cases were all infected during the level 4 lockdown, but the Government still cant work out how.

It seems unlikely Spain will be any help with that one.

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New Zealand terror attack: ‘Violent extremist’ carried out …

Posted: September 6, 2021 at 3:03 pm

A man, inspired by ISIS ideology, who stabbed at least six people in a supermarket was a "violent extremist" known to the police, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said.

The man was shot and killed by police within 60 seconds of beginning his attack at a Countdown store in Auckland.

The man was a Sri Lankan national and had been living in New Zealand since 2011.

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"A violent extremist undertook a terrorist attack on innocent New Zealanders," Jacinda Ardern told a briefing on Friday.

The man cannot be named due to a suppression order currently in place.

He had been known to multiple agencies since 2016, with Ms Ardern confirming she had been personally aware of the individual - adding that she was gutted to hear what had happened.

She said: "This was someone who was known to our national security agencies and was of concern and was being monitored constantly. There are very few that fall into this category."

Police following the man thought he had gone into the New Lynn supermarket to do some shopping, but he pulled out what one witness described as a large knife and started stabbing people.

"There's someone here with a knife ... he's got a knife," a woman is heard saying in one video, posted online after the attack.

Another recorded the sound of ten shots being fired in rapid succession.

"We were doing absolutely everything possible to monitor him and indeed the fact that we were able to intervene so quickly, in roughly 60 seconds, shows just how closely we were watching him," Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said.

Described as a "lone wolf", Ms Ardern said the attacker was a "supporter of ISIS" and inspired by extremist ideology.

The man was not allowed to be kept in prison by law, she said.

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Of the six wounded people, three were in critical condition, one in serious condition and another in moderate condition, the St John Ambulance Service said in a statement to Reuters.

Ms Ardern said any backlash against the Muslim community "would be wrong", and said the attacker "is who is responsible, no one else".

"What happened today was despicable, it was hateful, it was wrong. It was carried out by an individual, not a faith," she added.

The security in the country will remain at a medium level.

New Zealand has been on alert for attacks since a white supremacist gunman killed 51 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch on March 15, 2019. In May, four people were stabbed in a supermarket in Dunedin on New Zealand's South Island.

Auckland is on a strict lockdown as it battles an outbreak of the coronavirus. Most businesses are shut and people are generally only allowed to leave their homes to buy groceries, for medical needs, or to exercise.

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New Zealand terror attack: 'Violent extremist' carried out ...

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‘Not A Faith’: Jacinda Ardern Blames ‘Individual’ For New …

Posted: at 3:03 pm

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took aim at a violent extremist who stabbed and wounded six people with a knife in a New Zealand supermarket on Friday, the countrys second attack in two-and-a-half years.

The New Zealand prime minister described the incident as a terrorist attack after a Sri Lankan national wounded civilians in Auckland.

She added that she had been absolutely gutted to hear about the incident.

Ardern continued: What happened today was despicable.

She was also keen to keep blame solely on the individual responsible, saying: It was hateful, it was wrong, it was carried out by an individual, not a faith, not a culture, not an ethnicity, but an individual person.

Ardern said the attacker, who was not identified, was obviously a supporter of ISIS ideology, in reference to the Islamic State terror group.

Fridays attacker had been in New Zealand for a decade. He had been under constant surveillance for the last five years due to concerns about his ideology, according to the prime minister.

He was on a terror watchlist and was known to multiple agencies.

Police were following the man and initially thought he was going into the supermarket to do some shopping.The individual allegedly picked up a knife from a supermarket display before running around like a lunatic, shopper Michelle Miller told the Stuff news outlet.

Police managed to shoot and kill the man 60 seconds once he initiated the attack.

Three out of the six people he wounded were in critical condition. One was in a serious condition while the remaining two were in moderate condition.

Pool via Getty ImagesJacinda Ardern speaks to the media at a press conference with the details of the Auckland supermarket terror attack.

New Zealand last experienced a terror attack in March 2019, when a white supremacist gunman killed 51 people at two Christchurch mosques.

Ardern gained worldwide respect when she showed great compassion for the victims and their families.

At the time, The Washington Posts Ishaan Tharoor claimed that Ardern has become the face of her nations sorrow and grief and its resolve.

The prime minister has said it was not clear if the recent attack was an act of revenge for the mosque shootings.

Even so, the stabbings have now prompted widespread questions as to why the individual was able to roam around New Zealand freely if he was under surveillance.

Ardern said: If he had committed a criminal act that would have allowed him to be in prison, thats where he would have been.

Unfortunately he didnt ... instead he was being monitored constantly, constantly, and followed.

Gamal Fouda, imam of the Al Noor mosque and main target of the 2019 attacks, told Reuters: We are broken-hearted but we are not broken again ... we stand with the victims of the horrible incident.

Phil Walter via Getty ImagesJacinda Ardern consoling a grieving woman after the 2019 attacks.

Hitting back at criticism over the police response, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said officers had not been able to act more quickly because they needed to maintain a distance in order to be effective.

He said: The reality is, that when you are surveilling someone on a 24/7 basis, it is not possible to be immediately next to them at all times.

The staff intervened as quickly as they could and they prevented further injury in what was a terrifying situation.

Fiona Goodall via Getty ImagesPolice standing outside the supermarket where the stabbings occurred on Friday.

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New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern vows to tighten counter …

Posted: at 3:03 pm

Days after a 32-year-old man stabbed and wounded seven people in a supermarket, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Saturday promised to tighten counter-terrorism laws this month. This assurance from the Prime Minister came after Ahmed Aathill Mohamed Samsudeen, an extremist, was shot and killed by police after he attacked people in an Auckland supermarket on September 2, Thursday. While addressing a press conference in the national capital, Ardern promised to enact a law that would tighten the terrorist activities in the country. She assured the people of passing the law as soon as Parliament resume. "I am committing to pass the law as soon as possible. It would be pass no later than by the end of this month," stated Ardern. Further, she reiterated that the man involved in the mall stabbing incident came from Sri Lanka in 2011 on a student visa and was not known to have held any extreme views.

"The man was monitored constantly by at least 30 undercover agents after being freed from jail this year as he could not be kept in prison by law any longer," explained Ardern. The explanation from Ardern came after the Opposition parties alleged the Prime Minister could have saved the people from the brutal attack. He was first noticed by police in 2016 when he started posting support for terror attacks and violent extremism on Facebook. During the investigation, police found the man was allegedly inspired by the Islamic State group and recovered several videos showing ISIS terrorists, said, Ardern.

In 2017, New Zealand police arrested him at Auckland Airport when he was heading for Syria. According to the police sources, he was presumably going to join the Islamic State insurgency. During the search operation, police found a hunting knife and some banned propaganda material in his bag. As the video did not contain any violent footage, he was released on bail. In 2018, he bought another knife, and police found two Islamic State videos. Since then, he was facing a three-year jail term after pleading guilty to various crimes and breaching bail. In May this year, a jury found him guilty on two counts of possessing offensive videos, which showed Islamic State group imagery.

However, the videos didnt show brutal murders like some Islamic State videos and werent classified as the worst illicit material. High Court Judge Sally Fitzgerald described the contents as religious chants sung in Arabic. According to the judge, the videos showed obtaining martyrdom on the battlefield by being killed for Gods cause. However, the judge rejected the defence claim that the man was trying to improve his Arabic. The court noted that he had the motivation and means to commit violent acts in the community and posed a high risk.

The court directed the authorities to monitor his activities closely. However, the judge decided to release the accused with several terms and conditions. He was kept at an Auckland mosque where a leader had confirmed his willingness to help. I am of the view that the risk of you reoffending in a similar way to the charges upon which you were convicted remains high, the judge concluded. Your rehabilitation is accordingly key.

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Auckland mall terrorist attack: PM Jacinda Ardern calls …

Posted: at 3:03 pm

September 4 2021Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said seven people were injured in the terror attack at an Auckland supermarket yesterday and three people are still in a critical condition.

It was "disappointing and frustrating" the law prevented an Islamic State supporter from being detained, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement soon after legal suppressions were lifted last night.

Ahamed Aathil Mohamed Samsudeen, a 32-year-old born in Sri Lanka who came to New Zealand in October 2011 and was granted refugee status two years later, on Friday stabbed shoppers in a supermarket before being shot dead by police.

Ardern last night issued a statement that provided further information on steps Immigration New Zealand had taken over several years to try to have Samsudeen deported from the country.

Ardern said facets of the process had been "frustrating".

She said Government Ministers since 2018 had sought advice on NZ's ability to deport him.

Samsudeen arrived in New Zealand in October 201.

"He was 22 years old and travelling on a student visa," Ardern said.

"Shortly after arriving he made a claim for refugee status. Immigration New Zealand declined this claim in 2012, but he appealed to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal and was successful. He was granted refugee status in December 2013.

"In 2016, the terrorist came to the attention of the police and the NZSIS."

Arden said during the course of investigations, Immigration New Zealand "were made aware of information that led them to believe the individual's refugee status was fraudulently obtained".

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"The process was started to cancel his refugee status, and with it, his right to stay in New Zealand.

"In February of 2019, Immigration New Zealand cancelled his refugee status. He was served with deportation liability notices. In April, he appealed against his deportation to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal. He was still in prison at this time, and facing criminal charges. For a number of reasons, the deportation appeal could not proceed until after the conclusion of the criminal trial in May 2021."

Ardern said agencies also became concerned about "the risk this individual posed to the community".

"They also knew he may be released from prison, and that his appeal through the Tribunal, which was stopping his deportation, may take some time.

"Immigration New Zealand explored whether the Immigration Act might allow them to detain the individual while his deportation appeal was heard.

"It was incredibly disappointing and frustrating when legal advice came back to say this wasn't an option.

"A person can only be detained under the Immigration Act for the purpose of deportation. Immigration New Zealand was required to consider whether deportation was likely to proceed. That meant making an assessment of what the tribunal would likely find. Crown Law's advice to Immigration New Zealand was that the individual was likely to be considered a 'protected person' because of the status of the country from which he had travelled, and likely treatment on return. Protected people cannot be deported from New Zealand. After receiving this advice Immigration New Zealand determined they could not detain the individual while he waited for his appeal."

Soon after he was released from prison and the police monitoring and surveillance of Samsudeen begun.

"On [August 26] the Immigration and Protection Tribunal hearing was rescheduled. At the time of the terrorist attack, the offenders attempt to overturn the deportation decision was still ongoing," Ardern said.

"This has been a frustrating process."

Ardern also said she had met with officials and "expressed my concern that the law could allow someone to remain here who obtained their immigration status fraudulently and posed a threat to our national security".

National Party leader Judith Collins wants the Government to be able to strip citizenship or residency from those who have moved to New Zealand but then commit a violent act.

Yesterday, she also defended her decision in 2013 when, as Justice Minister, she removed a review of counter-terrorism laws from the Law Commission's work programme saying "there does not appear to be any substantial or urgent concerns arising from the operation of the [Terrorism Suppression] Act".

The gap in the law has existed across successive governments and has come under scrutiny in the wake of the terror attack in Auckland yesterday, when a terrorist attacked six people in a supermarket before being shot by police who were surveiling him.

Collins told RNZ yesterday she had texted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday night offering National's support to pass the bill into law under urgency.

Asked about her comments in 2013 about having no substantial or urgent concerns with New Zealand's counter terrorism legislation, she said it was "really unfair" to ask her about decisions from eight years ago.

"You are asking me to reach back without notes to go back and look at eight years ago at decisions made by the Cabinet," Collins told RNZ.

She said she wasn't going to second-guess Cabinet decisions - which would have been made in a particular context, and following consultation - from eight years ago.

The horrific events on Friday showed a need for an ability for a government to remove citizenship or residency from someone who had been granted it and later committed a violent crime, she said.

"It is a privilege, not a right. I am offering National's support to work constructively with the Government to make this change.

She said the Immigration Minister should be able to revoke a residency visa if the holder of the visa does something that would fail the "good character" threshold.

That would include being sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more.

Under the Immigration Act, residency or permanent residency visas are cancelled if the holder is deported.

Reasons for deportation include committing an offence that could lead to a jail term of at least three months within the first two years of residence, or one that could lead to a jail term of at least two years within the first five years of residence.

Currently the Minister of Internal Affairs can remove someone's citizenship if they have taken on the citizenship or nationality of another country and "acted in a matter contrary to the interests of New Zealand", or had acted fraudulently to gain citizenship in the first place.

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Auckland mall terrorist attack: PM Jacinda Ardern calls ...

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Jacinda Ardern calls New Zealand stabbing ‘terrorist attack …

Posted: at 3:03 pm

New Zealand police have shot dead a man after he stabbed nearly six people in an Auckland supermarket. "Police have located the man and he has been shot. He has died at the scene," the police reported.

Locals described a scene of hysteria in the Countdown supermarket in the capital city's New Lynn suburb.

Also read |NZ: Covid positive man flees quarantine after three unsuccessful attempts

While the authorities had earlier described this incident as a random attack and not terror-related, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has termed this as a terrorist attack.

"What happened today was despicable, it was hateful, it was wrong," she said.

Ardern reported that the incident began around 2:40 pm and the officers were able to shoot and kill the stabber within "roughly 60 seconds of the attack ".

The attacker is being described as an ISIS-inspired terrorist who arrived in New Zealand in 2011 and had roots from Sri Lanka.

"The attack at New Lynn Countdown was a terrorist attack carried out by a violent extremist," Ardern said. "He was supporter of IS-ideology. He was known to multiple agencies. I was personally aware of him."


She also revealed that the attacker was being observed since 2016 but the authorities could not put him in prison due to legal obligations. As per the PM, his past activities had not reached to the level that he could be out behind the bars, but the officials were using every possible tool available to keep the country safe from him.

This incident took place in the afternoon with only few people present in the mall, due to the ongoing Covid lockdown in the city.

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Jacinda Ardern calls New Zealand stabbing 'terrorist attack ...

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