Summary A protest planned for farmers tomorrow risks being hijacked by other groups that would dilute its message. Calls are growing to tax mega-churches backing anti-lockdown protests that risk being mega-spreader events and are causing motorway blockages.

Covid update Today is touted as the last day to get vaccinated by Christmas, with covid numbers predicted to surge in coming weeks due to easing of retail restrictions in Auckland. Health minister Andrew Little, who visits Auckland today, has warned of up to 16,000 cases a week in weeks to come, after Auckland’s borders reopen, as thousands flock to malls and new clusters begin growing outside Auckland. Meanwhile TVNZ reports that hairdressers and beauty therapists may be able to open next week to vaccinated customers. 

Celestial tourism It’s a big night tonight for star tourism. Tonight is the longest near-total lunar eclipse in about 800 years, and starts about 8pm. The Leonids meteor shower is also underway, and can be seen between 3am and dawn in the lower northeast under the bright star Regulus. The shooting stars can be seen from Nov 14 to 21 and are currently at their peak.

Kowbucha milestone Fonterra has moved into the next phase of its 'Kowbucha' project, feeding the methane-reducing probiotic to a herd of 60 calves. “It's genuinely exciting,” said Mark Piper, director, group research and development at Fonterra. “This is something that started as an idea not that long ago when we coined the phrase Kowbucha because of the similarities to kombucha and because it’s something that’s good for the gut,” he said. According to Fonterra, consumers flock to kombucha – a fermented tea-based drink – for its perceived health benefits. The trademarked Kowbucha targets methanogens, which are microorganisms found in the guts of animals that produce methane. The aim is to shut them down.

Shareholders upset NZME has found itself offside with some shareholders who were excluded from joining an investor day hosted online by the media company. The digital event ran for over two hours on Thursday and featured the senior leadership walking some investors through a 150-slide presentation covering all aspects of the company’s strategy. BusinessDesk understands one shareholder with a stake worth more than $300,000 was not invited, and it appears many, if not all, non-institutional investors weren’t included. A spokesperson for NZME said it was standard practice for investor days to be run on an invite-only basis and a video would be made available, however, the timing of that video “will be editing dependent”.  Chief executive of the New Zealand Shareholders Association (NZSA), Oliver Mander said it was “not best practice” even if it wasn’t uncommon. “This just reinforces that there is an information disparity between institutional and retail investors,” he told BusinessDesk.

Protest hijack Farmers planning to protest Sunday under the "mother of all protests" banner are likely to be joined by anti vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, racists, sexists, climate change deniers, far right groups, anti-government groups and those against 1080 and 5G. Farmers are concerned about new laws aimed at protecting fresh water, slowing climate change and the destruction of native bush, and are worried their messages will be diluted by unwelcome fellow protestors. 

Anti-church sentiment grows Destiny Church-backed groups are planning their own anti-lockdown gatherings tomorrow, including slowing and blocking motorways around NZ’s largest cities. Calls are growing to tax the mega churches that include Destiny and City Impact, after their role in encouraging lockdown dissent. Stuff reports critics are asking whether large business-like church organisations “should be entitled to preferential income tax treatment, particularly as they have claimed large handouts from the covid-19 wage subsidy, and seem to generate substantial wealth for those at the top”. A petition calling for these churches to be taxed gained 50,000 signatures, and Auckland's Behemoth Brewery is using its cans to weigh in with their support.

Spare parts Apple has announced it will start selling spare parts to enable owners to repair their own devices. The programme would start in the US next year, with an online shop selling about 200 parts and tools aimed at fixing displays, batteries and cameras on iPhone 12 and 13 models. 

Next week: The Ministry for Fisheries is seeking feedback on new laws to tighten compliance, including strengthening laws to revoke fishing permits, monitor NZ fishers in other waters, penalise NZ vessels for breaking international conventions and detain foreign vessels in NZ ports. Submissions are due on Nov 21. Also next week, is the next Monetary Policy Statement, on Nov 24.

Markets update In early afternoon trading US markets were mixed, with the Dow Jones down 0.24% compared to the S&P 500 up 0.23%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq up 0.40%. Strong retail and tech earnings are behind the uptick, despite growing expectations the Federal Reserve will begin hiking interest rates within a year. The Dow was dragged down by Cisco’s update that profits would be impacted by supply chain issues. In Europe, markets dropped. The FTSE 100 was down 0.48%, hit by a strong pound, tumbling oil prices and speculation the US, Japan and China would collaborate to lower prices. Europe’s Stoxx 600 dropped 0.5%, Germany’s Dax dropped 0.18% and the French Cac dropped 0.21% due to increasing inflation fears.