Summary Junior Auckland school children return to school today, as politicians are due to announce a timeline for the introduction of a traffic light system to NZ. The Government launched its new vaccine pass today.

Vaccine pass launched Vaccinated New Zealanders can now request a domestic vaccine pass from the Ministry of Health despite the system for its use not being implemented yet. The ministry’s announcement of the passes’ availability caps several weeks of hush-hush, with many aspects of the rollout unclear as recently as three weeks ago. My Vaccine Pass will allow entry into some public places when the country’s new covid-19 protection framework (also known as the traffic light system) comes into effect. Vaccine passes are QR codes that will be scanned by businesses and venues via a ministry-issued free verifier app. The QR code and identity verification aspect of the technology has been built by Spark subsidiary Mattr. 

Cracks spread Supporters of light rail in Auckland will be watching the shutdown of trams in Sydney and now Birmingham after cracks were found in the CAF-manufactured Urbos 3 trams. Issues have also been seen in the same model in Belgrade, Serbia, and in the French city of Besancon. In Auckland, CAF is contracted until 2025 to maintain the CAF electric trains that carry rail commuters, but these are a heavy rail option and a different model.

Green light A decision on Auckland’s boundaries was to be made today, aimed at putting the city into the traffic light system after a review of vaccination rates due on Nov 29. It is understood politicians are currently aiming for Auckland’s boundaries to reopen in mid-December as the rest of NZ also transitions to the traffic light system. Issues under consideration include ways to protect people in low vaccination regions, and conditions under which Aucklanders can leave the region, including having vaccination certificates and pre-departure testing. Timing is also uncertain as the government is taking a responsive, flexible approach that may see border relaxation brought forward.

Doors reopen Children up to year 10 return to school today for the last few weeks of the year. Some parents were left to juggle unexpectedly with work and unoccupied children after their schools notified them in an email at 8.30 on Monday that no online school would be provided until doors reopened today. Parts of the Waikato moved to level 2 today, with bars, restaurants, cafes and hairdressers ready for the customer onslaught.

Power to the people Updated laws governing the electricity industry, which establish a consumer forum, give the Electricity Authority more powers, and take into account the rapidly evolving technologies and business models, close for submissions today. The Electricity Industry Amendment Bill 2021 would strengthen the consumer voice with the new forum, and would give the Electricity the power to gather information from industry participants for reviews, to regulate to protect the interests of residential and small business consumers and to regulate all parts of distribution access agreements. It would also adapt regulation to take into account technological advances, especially where regulated monopolies are competing with other businesses to sell services to consumers.

Students to the rescue Students are likely to save Otago’s early fruit picking season over the summer break, but orchardists are worried about how to pick later fruit once students return to study. 

World cup record The Rugby World Cup for women to be held in NZ in a year aims to set a record for the most spectators at a women's game. The record is currently held by the French, with 20,000 watching England convincingly beat Canada in the 2014 Rugby World Cup final in Paris.

Showcase opens Foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta today opens Te Aratini, NZ’s Dubai World Expo 2020 showcase event. Mahuta will also be holding a number of bilateral meetings, including with the foreign affairs minister in Dubai, aimed at strengthening New Zealand’s relationship with the Middle East. 

Overemployment rises Remote working is enabling people to work two jobs at the same time with some people even recruiting friends or relatives to do the extra work in their name. 

Markets update Markets around the world are up today. The STOXX Europe 600 Index ended on a record close, up 0.17% today to 489.27 after rising for five consecutive trading days. In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones was up 0.5%, the Nasdaq rose 0.7% and the S&P 500 rose 0.5%. Reports showing strong retail and production boosted investor confidence, with the likes of Home Depot, Nike, and Coach and Kate Spade parent company Tapestry rising. Health and technology sectors were also strong, while communications companies were weaker. London bucked the trend, dragged down by lagging prices for AstraZeneca and unemployment figures that failed to impress investors. Nike, meanwhile, has postponed the release of its Air Max shoe collaboration with Travis Scott, following the tragedy at his Astroworld Festival.