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Govt announces new Covid-19 funding and governance arrangements as it finally releases the findings of a review it commissioned when border workers were found to be untested in August

Govt announces new Covid-19 funding and governance arrangements as it finally releases the findings of a review it commissioned when border workers were found to be untested in August
Ashley Bloomfield. Getty Images.

A review into the Government’s Covid-19 testing strategy has highlighted poor communication between decision-makers and those on ground, as well as holes at the border which have since been plugged.

The Government has finally released the findings of a review it urgently commissioned in August when a community outbreak of Covid-19 put Auckland in lockdown.

It was discovered at the time only 40% of staff working at the border and in managed isolation and quarantine hotels had been tested.

The review, led by Heather Simpson and Brian Roche and completed in September, confirmed: “Despite the clear expectation of Ministers that there would be structured testing of border facing workers, and regular comments in advice papers which stated that such testing was occurring, in reality little testing was happening at the time and little was being done to develop regimes to make such testing mandatory.

"There appears to have been a reluctance on the part of some agencies to contemplate mandatory testing regimes, there was a general lack of forward planning with respect to testing, there was a reluctance to work with employers about how testing could best be implemented at particular sites and there was a lack of clarity about who was in charge of implementing and monitoring the testing regimes.

“It is not surprising that there were some elements of confusion… the lack of clear leadership able to provide strategic oversight of the implementation of the border testing regime meant that issues were addressed in isolation, essentially as patches upon patches for too long.”

The review said a bit more time should’ve been taken to engage with stakeholders before making orders.

“The Orders applying to ports illustrate this well,” it said.

“First, the original orders required all workers to be tested in an impossible time frame even though many of the workers covered had no contact at all with any cross-border activity. These orders ended up being changed a number of times before they were reasonably effective.

“Yet even at the time of writing this report those port orders still only apply to Auckland and Tauranga, despite the fact that there are ports all around the country processing cargo and crews every day. That represents a large gap in the security of the overall border.”

As of September 14, regular testing at all ports became mandatory.

Roche and Simpson largely put the blame on the Ministry of Health. Of their 28 recommendations, 25 were for the Ministry. Responses to five of the recommendations have been completed.

More funding, new governance arrangements

Cabinet has agreed to allocate $1.12 billion towards the Covid-19 health response over the next year-and-a-half.

This funding will help maintain doing up to 7000 tests a day, contact tracing, PPE, and additional support for the Ministry and district health boards as required.

It has also agreed to allocate an additional $1.74 billion to ensuring managed isolation and quarantine facilities are well resourced.

From March, an updated governance approach will also be adopted. This will involve the establishment of a new Border Executive Board of interdepartmental CEOs, which will oversee end-to-end management of the borders, including managed isolation and quarantine facilities.

Strategic leadership and central coordination will be led by a COVID-19 Response unit, building on existing all-of-government functions in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The Ministry of Health will continue to oversee the public health response.

Simpson/Roche report themes

Here’s a high-level summary of the themes from the Simpson/Roche report:

• Consistency and quality of communication, and consultation with relevant stakeholders was sub-optimal;

• Inappropriate accountability for various aspects of the strategies and their implementation;

• Border control directives have been difficult to understand and implement,

• Lack of clarity in the testing framework;

• Lack of good forward planning from the perspective of an end to end system;

• Underutilisation of health expertise outside the Ministry of Health leading to sub optimal analysis and planning documents; and

• Lack of confidence in data being reported to key decision makers.

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The way things were run I suspect we have been very very fortunate to avoid more community outbreaks.


Certainly could have done better, should have done better. Leaving rest homes wide open too long was another howler. NZ could have been bitten much more severely by CV19 by such basic mismanagement. You cannot fix a problem or a mistake until you admit that there is one in the first place. The government was actually guilty of misinformation in their daily broadcasts, quite squarely in fact. NZ has been fortunate to achieve the outcomes despite this.


The report confirms much anecdotally provided evidence. Proves that evidence as fact.
The report dated 28th September 2020.

Why was this report with held from New Zealanders until now. Why with held from the Election.

This report goes a long way to debunk the slick PR messaging the our Lady of the Lockdown could walk on water and that the part time Minister of Health was functional.


Classic timing, gets released last day of the working year for many. The public are far too distracted about Christmas to care.


Why care about this when I can like Jacindas latest selfie pic on Facebook.

I love her smile, so composed, so down to earth aswell. OMG #bossbabe

so proud of her and NZ!

I want to see one journalist ask Ardern why her AoG response pressers were making resolute assertions of fact they could not possibly know or were not true, especially in the context of comments such as "If you hear it at 1pm then it's the truth".

Just to give you an idea how good we have it here, here's a little status report from Hungary.
There were zero general lockdowns in Hungary so far. People don't wear masks at most workplaces, despite an estimated 20% of the population having been already infected. Hospitals are already overwhelmed (have been for months), patients are missing treatments, student doctors are being put on the front line in some cases. Average new cases per day: 2000. Average new deaths per day: 150-180 (population is 10 million).

My mother was the only one at her workplace who wore a mask and disinfected her whole office twice a day. She had to ask her coworkers to put on a mask at least while they're in her office. Well, despite all the precautions, she started showing symptoms. Her doctor ordered her to stay at home, and ordered a Covid test. It took 9(!) days for the testing crew to get to her - test came back positive. The problem is, she was supposed to go back to work on day 11! So she did the smart thing and asked for a second test to confirm that she's no longer positive - which would take another 10 days, putting her on sick leave while she's waiting for the test.
She's been told while on sick leave that she won't get tested a second time due to lack of capacity, and she has to go back to work on day 20. I talked to her on day 20, she was still constantly coughing, could barely hold a conversation. She thinks she'll be fine... The GP won't see her (or anyone, for that matter). Anyways, she went back to work, still coughing, most likely still positive.
Meanwhile the Hungarian govt, having its priorities in order, held a very important vote about family rights: they put "the father is a man, the mother is a woman" in the constitution. Yep, this was their number one priority during these times, while the whole healthcare system is collapsing and people are dying by the thousands.
NZ has it real good. Don't any of you guys dare use the word "dictator" or "authoritarian" when talking about Ardern or any NZ politician for that matter. Not even close.

You do realise a major contributing factor to us having it "so good" is because a small group of people were prepared to insist on answers to questions and not just accept statements made by senior government leaders that had no basis in reality, or assurances that they could not possibly give?

How do you think we would be tracking if we had just trusted the PM that what she said was happening with border testing was happening? Would we still have it "real good"?

You do realise many people in Hungary (including what little is left of independent media) were raising the same concerns, but the govt decided not to do anything and just laughed in their faces? Actually one of the responsible ministers said that you should follow the ten commandments and you'll be good...
That the govt in NZ reacted to said concerns just shows that it's not even close to being anti-democratic. Is there room for improvement? Sure. Has NZ had one of the best responses in the world to Covid? Hell yes!

"That the govt in NZ reacted to said concerns "

They gave sweeping assurances testing was happening - "There are no US forces outside Baghdad" style. Then when someone asked the workers at the border how often they were being tested - guess what? They only reacted once they had been publicly shown to be making statements that did not gel with reality. The bar has been set extremely low by some countries with Covid responses in Western countries, but that does not mean we should accept political spin or outright untruths as something we should be OK with here.

Testing was happening, just not enough in many people's opinion. Do you understand the logistics of testing everyone who works at the border?

If you tested everyone who works just at the Ports of Auckland once a week for example (regardless of symptoms), in a typical 40 hour week a lab tech would be processing 1 test result every 4 minutes non stop. I'm sure these lab techs have other things to do, such as studying biopsies.

"Do you understand the logistics of testing everyone who works at the border?" I am not the one who stood up at press conferences and gave assurances it was happening when it was not, so I do not know why you are asking me this question.

Just to give you an idea how good we have it here.....

If you want to know.......
Currently a large DHB is so rattled, how rattled?
A mate had a procedure 8+ days in hospital.
Then some weeks later had the Stent removal procedure.

Only thing was....
Once Doctor inside, couldn't find the Stent.
Dr looked at notes..... A bio-degradeable Stent had been inserted (in the notes said so), and now, had bio-degraded.....

Have a nice weekend!

What's your point? By the way, when was the last time you had to bring your own toilet paper for your hospital stay because the hospital didn't have any? Or wait 6 months for an X-ray. NZ has it real good.

The point, people being operated on for no reason...

The error found out, only when Doctors had anesthetized and inserted their instruments into the patients body.

I feel for your Mum but supporting socialist PM here won't do anything for conditions in Hungary.
In fact you way wish to see the praise JA heaped on Hungary when she was world socialist leader...

I swear all you do on here is go out of your way to frame comments around your massive crush on Jacinda Ardern.

Dan, you seem a deep thinker - no worries, others can give you a step up.

EuroMOMO records the total number of deaths (from all causes) for each country. Go to the link below, scroll down and have a look at the total mortality for Hungary during 2020. Death rates have been pretty much normal. How do you reconcile this with your doom and gloom?

It's pretty obvious that the Govt's response was fairly reactive rather than proactive. Let's face it - WE GOT LUCKY.

What I don't understand is why 1st world countries are either destroying their economies or currencies like NZ is doing, or letting the hospitals become inundated to the point where hard lockdowns are required (most of Europe). Whereas 3rd world countries like India or parts of South America are doing the obvious thing and treating with ivermectin vitamin D, Zinc and other inexpensive agents. The scientific evidence seems pretty clear to me that these inexpensive treatments will be as effective as the vaccine (look at Look at this guy who's one of a group of clinicians with over 2000 papers between them. He's not mincing his words when it comes to ivermectin