State of National Emergency declared as government makes unprecedented moves to empower itself to control the spread of COVID-19

State of National Emergency declared as government makes unprecedented moves to empower itself to control the spread of COVID-19

The government is giving itself the legal power to do whatever it takes to control the spread of COVID-19.

Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare declared a State of National Emergency at 12.21pm, Wednesday.

This is only the second time in New Zealand’s history a State of National Emergency has been declared - the first time was following the February 2011 Canterbury earthquakes.

Speaking in the House at Parliament before it shuts down until April 28, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this is being done to “preserve our way of life” in New Zealand.

Under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, the Civil Defence Emergency Management Director can direct, coordinate and use the resources made available to manage the response to COVID-19.

The director, Sarah Stuart-Black, can also control the exercise and performance of functions, duties, and powers of Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups and Group Controllers across the country.

Civil Defence Emergency Management Controllers will be able to provide for the:

  • conservation and supply of food, fuel and other essential supplies
  • regulate land, water and air traffic
  • close roads and public places
  • evacuate any premises, including any public place,
  • exclude people or vehicles from any premises or place.

The State of National Emergency will be in place for a week and can be renewed.

“This declaration helps us limit our exposure, and the exposure of the most vulnerable members of our community, to COVID-19. In short, it will help save lives,” Ardern said.

There were 47 new cases of COVID-19 and three probable cases confirmed on Wednesday. This brings the total number of confirmed and probable cases up to 205. 

"We will see a rise in cases for the next ten days, from people infected before today," the Ministry of Health said. 

"The numbers will continue to increase before they turn around. That turnaround will happen if we all do what is asked of us."

Ardern went on to say an Epidemic Notice, which was issued yesterday (Tuesday) and has taken effect today (Wednesday), further helps authorities “manage effectively shutting down the country for the first time”.

“It does a number of things including allowing for special powers of medical officers of health - and immediately unlocks powers under the Corrections, Health and Electoral Acts,” she said.

“But importantly an Epidemic Notice sits as an umbrella over further notices that can now be issued, and which have now been issued, to change and modify specific parts of legislation in a common-sense and pragmatic way to keep our systems working in a time of lockdown - and get rid of particular requirements that are impractical to comply with in a time of an epidemic and when in lockdown…

“The restrictions in place on New Zealanders’ movements are the most significant in our modern history. I do not underestimate the gravity of what is being asked of you. But we have a limited window of opportunity and we must use every weapon we have.

“New Zealanders want to see that these measures are being complied with but in a way that we’re used to seeing as New Zealanders.

“As Police Commissioner Mike Bush said, the Police and the Military will be working together and there is assistance at the ready as required. If people do not follow the message here today, then the police will remind people of their obligations. They have the ability to escalate if required. They can arrest if needed, they can detain if needed.

“But these are tools of last resort, in a time when I know New Zealanders will rally. Because that is what we do.”

A special select committee, chaired by Opposition Leader Simon Bridges, will be meet remotely a few times a week while Parliament is shut down.

Government ministers and public servants will appear before the committee of MPs and be scrutinised. See more on this here.

Ardern ended her speech saying: “And so, as we enter into a stage that none of us have experienced before, I want to share a few final messages.

“Firstly, you are not alone. You will hear us, and see us, daily as we guide New Zealand through this period. It won’t always be perfect. But the principle of what we are trying to do is the right one.

“Secondly, success won’t be instant. The benefit of what we do today, won’t be felt for many days to come. Expect our numbers to keep rising, because they will. But over time, we will see change if we all stick to the rules.

“Thirdly, you may not be at work, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a job. Your job is to save lives, and you can do that by staying home, and breaking the chain.

“And finally, if you have any questions about what you can or can’t do, apply a simple principle. Act like you have COVID-19. Every move you then make is a risk to someone else. That is how we must all collectively think.”

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


they are passing the bill to borrow 52 billion dollars

Impressive number! We are simply loaning it to ourselves and I suspect the next installment might be even bigger!


NZ enters a virtual time freeze. Whether the government got it right or could have done better is irrelevant. What is relevant is that it is up to us, each and every one of us, to now take over the responsibility to get it right from this point on. Not dead right, just simply right. Adults must act like adults and lead their families by example. Fair wind and sailing to all!

"Adults must act like adults and lead their families by example" - well, the examples I've seen today aren't quite the best. I've never seen so many people out on the streets walking, jogging, taking their kids to the parks and beach... Trying to catch the virus before police enforces the lockdown I guess.

Don't you know - the virus sticks to the rules. It promises not to infect anyone until after 11:59pm tonight.

and auckland house prices never go down

Or maybe exercising their freedom before we play CCP for a month?

Shoulda popped into Bunnings. All sorts getting supplies before lockdown.. Preggo women, women carrying newborns, old and young, some even bought the dog along. Spike in case numbers in 8-10 days. (and yes, i am being hypocritical.. i was there too)

Are women not allowed at Bunnings?...

Did somebody say they weren't?

More to the point; how to Exit the various 'emergencies' and under what guiding principles. Two related thoughts from offshore bloggers:
Willis Eschenbach, saying that Test, Trace, Test more (with Korean experience from Steve Mosher) is the key to ascertaining the actual incidence, and his suspicion from Italian data that much of their WuFlu is nosocomial: originates from within the hospital system itself. So bending efforts towards preventing the thing getting near hospitals, their staff, and their support services in the first place is vital. Also, some Interesting data about the extent of co-morbidities in those Italian stats. Lotta very old, very sick folks in the deaths. Not a representative sample of the population at large, he suspects.

E.M.Smith (Chiefio), with a take on the way out of the various states of lockdown. Relaxation where there's no evidence of Covid (Test, trace, test more...) and allowing trade and interaction between 'clean areas' is the key to exit, which has the side benefit of allowing the economy to function albeit at a reduced level. No point in locking down clean areas beyond the obvious entry/exit restrictions/testing. The Covid govt page does note that the Levels may be different in different areas, so perhaps the groundwork for 'clean zone' level reduction is there. The real question is whether the current one-size-fits-all, centralist approach is gonna render that moot.....

Sweet, so if the government test / trace / test in conjunction with current lockdown and keep hospitals Covid free. We should stamp it out and then get back to work.

Maybe the government could just lend money to those who haven't saved for a rainy day, a bit like a student loan at a special low interest rate.
Say the government did borrow 50 billion dollars, up to 50k each for one million households or more, then lent it to those that needed a top up to pay the rent/mortgage and feed the family.

Some of us wont need it, maybe quite a lot of us, but others undoubtedly will and they will be feeling rather desperate. However $50,000 could be provided to households at a very special rate, say 2%, only $20 a week, to be paid back over the years like a student loan. I'm sure this is a lifeline that many would gladly take. It would also be good for the economy and for mental health.

Just throwing the idea out there. Historic low interest rates could make this quite possible.

Good idea

This is not an unreasonable approach. The Government seems to be pivoting towards giving money to all households. The debt is there whether it's public or private. Although the rate would be better at 1% or 0%. People will fear compounding debt in a period of extended recession with a lack of certainty around jobs.

If it is issued as private debt this could take some of the inflationary pressure off, and that will turn up sooner or later.

Talking about historic low rates the 1 and 3 month treasuries are negative now with the Fed's massive bond buying program.


This is truly unbelievable. The student politicians are panicking. There are no winners here. From the CCP's arrogance at ground zero to today. I just hope we remember where this came from. Because it'll happen again.

Would you rather be here with a four week shutdown and quarantine at the boarder or the the States which with Donald-open-for-Easter Dumpf.

Watching the debating chamber at the Beehive. David Seymour imploring the govt that giving 25 extra dollars to benficiaries was wrong then turns with bare faced cheek to beg for more money to be given to businesses while then utterly discrediting himself by asking the govt not to spend all the assistance money but to leave some over for wonder that guy only has one seat....nutty!

Seymour may perhaps have got a more sympathetic ear from the previous government.

Status of COVID-19

As of 19 March 2020, COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious diseases (HCID) in the UK.

The 4 nations public health HCID group made an interim recommendation in January 2020 to classify COVID-19 as an HCID.

"HCID" = High Consequence-if-you-are-elderly-and/or-have-chronic-medical-issues Infectious Disease.
There, fixed it for you.

As JA said (in hidden statement): borrow more, loan more until at least mid of 2021.. to preserve? her housing valuation, her ministers, Orr's team, all policy makers, local councils, CEOs, CCs, Managers.. this is a natural unbiased presentation.. but No one can deny to see the sub-conscious decision there.. to preserve the current house pricing/trajectory. It's okay JA.. but let's see when the whole world full force of requesting changes start to happen in 2022 onwards.. I wonder how strong those 'sub-conscious' can be maintained. NZ lives in this interconnected world, can only do so much to host a few of worlds ruling elites.. becoming beneficiaries of those swindling worldwide countries resources.. all into.. lands, REs - but for how long.. ? As far as we can see on this Corona adaptability.. the next wave shall come.. 20-22 variants.. same lock down issues.. but wait.. there's more.. those unruly twisted mind (intentionally or unintention/eg. MH condition) shall just simply grab the el-cheapo vape being modify a bit.. voila.. puff it around public area.. watch where those tiny droplets stop.. this will be post 22? (just my rough estimate).. same lock down issues.. wash, rinse, repeat..Potato, Potatoi, Tomato, Tomatoi, Wealth? Health? WHealth? HWealth? .. pffft..

That's all well and good. My main concern is how long can we survive in lock down? The virus is not going to go away until a vaccine is found. Does anyone see an endgame?

Yes we need to stop the spread of COVID 19, but has the cost been equally considered?

Businesses will fail as they are forced to close doors, People are losing their jobs or at the very least losing income, people have lost 40% of their retirement savings in the stock market - in a single month!
Billions lost (just in NZ), and more poverty to come, now with state of emergencies and self isolations, it's freedoms lost... it's fear at its worst... and now everyone suffers, now or in the very near future

The Stockmarket is very precarious right now as this has been the sharpest decline on record, confidence is weakened which is really what the stockmarket measures - if the bounce off the lows does not stabilise and girate near where it is for a year or so (to stabilise confidence), there is a very real risk that we could head into a major decline up to 90%+ similar to 1929 and another depression, and depressions coupled with hardship often lead to wars that cost millions of lives, even more now considering the weapons of today

All for a flu that has killed 0.0002% of the worlds population,
When the medium term economic and long term future human cost could be much much higher......

people who have a limited capital base and will rely on it for retirement should not be gambling, in the stock market or the casino, much the same things in reality

Right? Why do people act as if they were told the stock market could only go up? Why do people invest when they don't understand the risks?

Not sure what your point is here? where do you think all kiwisaver funds go?
The issue is not the share market - the real issue is the impact such sharp falls have on business and investor confidence which ultimately trickles down to the real economy...

We should try to keep this in perspective and not be fearful for the future. We will get on top of this and things will get better and we will all have brighter future. The lockdown is only for a few weeks and things will be well under control. It's something we should all try. at least.

An analogy may be the phoney war of 1939-40. The virus has done a bit of a blitzkrieg on us and we are all locked down with the borders closed. All is not lost at this point, maybe things will be worked out. If it doesn't it we will likely have to go to total war where we can't stress too much about casualties. In fact a leadership that cannot cope with casualties will have to be deposed. Martial law even and harsh decisions about who gets respirators and who doesn't. About 40,000 casualties, mostly the old, the sick and the obese. The virus does seem to be a right little Nazi doesn't it? Probably wont come to that though.

The 40% is not lost. People still have the same number of shares or units of whatever their fund is in. The only time the money is lost is when people sell off and move into something else where it is bonds or cash. I do know people that have sold off by switching funds during the falls. It is likely that the issues with the value of shares or funds could go on for 18-24 months before recovering.

In the mean time those that still have income and still putting money in will get the greatest benefit. Everything is at a discount for the mean time, although this is where index funds and dollar cost averaging will perform a lot better.

One thing I am happy about is that our market isn't loaded with questionable and highly levered ETFs like in the US. There will be people that genuinely lose a lot.

For those that are close to retirement their funds should only have a smaller proportion of the funds in shares, and should be building up a 2 year living expenses cash buffer. If people are only a few years from retirement and they have been put in an aggressive fund then this has resulted in settlements in the past (especially with the Australian banks).

There now needs to be a global agreement from all WTO members that they will abide by WHO guidelines for pandemic response. Any new virus detected in your country must be immediately notified to the WHO. Immediate access must be granted for ground teams of whatever size required to be allowed into the area of the outbreak and they will have full command and control over the response and measures to be put in place. Failure to agree to this as of now and your membership of WTO will be revoked immediately. Failure to notify the WHO when an outbreak occurs or failure to allow teams to enter. Your membership of the WTO will be revoked immediately. All other member states of the WTO will cease trade with you immediately. All flights and shipping will be suspended immediately. Planes in the air that have departed from your country will be allowed to land at the nearest safe airport. Only passengers not citizens of your country will be allowed to leave the aircraft. The aircraft will then be refuelled and sent back. It will be for you a Great Leap Backward.

This from what is rapidly becoming the ex Lucky Country. Hamstrung by the Tory / Business relationship

"At a press conference on Wednesday, Mr Morrison was asked whether a lockdown would be a good idea.

“You’re suggesting I should close down businesses where there’s no medical advice that they should,” he replied.

“I don’t understand why we would cause that harm to a business and all their workers and their livelihoods for the sake of some sort of message convenience.

Scotty from Marketing has spent a lot of Wed explaining why Hairdresser appointments need to be of a certain length of time. Talk about making sure you depart the mortal coil looking your best.

I have never felt more pleased to be living in NZ. Just shut it down already SFM.

History will record that NZ shut its country down before any deaths. The UK did it after 335. We are still waiting on Australia.

Your access to our unique content is free - always has been. But ad revenues are under pressure so we need your direct support.

Become a supporter

Thanks, I'm already a supporter.