National | Auckland

Ardern on saving Shakespeare fest, Covid-19 and Three Waters

A number of Covid-19 measures will be retained under a basic legal framework, such as the seven-day isolation period for cases and mask-wearing in healthcare settings.

Speaking to teaomā today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says another wave of cases is expected before Christmas and, even though the rules have been loosened, she does not expect it will be as bad as previous waves.

More reductions on Covid rules will also be implemented by the end of the year, she says.

“Our plan is to keep that in place until we work through what a future pandemic preparedness piece of law looks like.

“It’s something that we’re going to take our time to work through.”

Ardern talks about Shakespeare festival, Three Waters and more. 

'To be or not to be'

The education ministry will now part-fund the Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival after Creative NZ declined the $31,00 application over what it insists was a shortfall of funding but has been criticised for how it turned it down, it saying "did not demonstrate the relevance to the contemporary art context of Aotearoa in this time and place and landscape".

Ardern says she appeared in the festival and performed during her high school years. It’s seen more than 120,000 students involved since its inception in 1991.

“If you’re a kid that’s interested in drama, theatre, the arts, oratory – there are not as many opportunities. So that’s why, for me, it was an important programme.

“In recent years [the festival] has had in the finals pieces entirely performed in te reo Māori, so it demonstrates that it has adapted, evolved and been embraced by young people. In our view, it should continue.”

Mayor vs PM

Ardern is expecting to meet incoming Auckland mayor Wayne Brown, who this week instructed council water supplier Watercare to stop preparing for the Three Waters changes.

Ardern says change needs to happen, regardless, for the country’s waterways.

“We worked through the options. This is the one that would keep costs for people in check. We’ve had some who opposed that but I haven’t seen the alternatives they would like.”