Summary New vaccination mandates for teachers begin today, but firefighters have another fortnight to comply. Westpac’s new chief executive Catherine McGrath takes the reins today as the bank struggles as NZ’s least favourite. 

Covid update More than a few classrooms will be empty today as unvaccinated teachers are kept home under new mandates for workers in the education and disability sectors. Depending on their vaccination levels, parts of Waikato are likely to see a step down in restrictions today, which would enable reopening of shops and larger gatherings. Prime minister Jacinda Ardern is likely to announce today a date for making booster shots more widely available. It is now about nine months since many border workers were fully vaccinated, with the vaccine known to wane in efficacy after six months. Meanwhile new vaccination passes will have expiry dates on them to reflect the vaccine’s limitations. 

Postal cutoff International postal deliveries of Christmas presents to some parts of the world should be sent by the end of today, as NZ Post is slammed and international supply chain issues add delays. Australia Post is also struggling under an everyday Christmas-like load. 

Catalist kicks off New equity exchange Catalist has its first listing begin trading today. For the first time, NZers will be able to own shares in a venture capital fund, Matu Iramoe, an early-stage venture fund aimed at retail investors. A subsidiary of science and deep-tech investor Matū Group, which helps start-ups commercialise scientific research, it will give retail investors a way to invest money in Matū’s pre-seed and seed fund Karahi, and is seeking to raise up to $1 million in the first initial public offer held on Catalist’s public market. Catalist is a new exchange designed for small and medium-sized businesses, which hopes to be a stepping stone for businesses that are too small to list on the NZX, using regular auctions in order to improve liquidity and avoid the need for continuous disclosure. 

One-card trial Passengers on Wellington’s Johnsonville trainline will be able to use cards previously restricted to bus users from today, as a step towards a national, seamless one-card public travel system. NZTA’s Project NEXT, which would allow Kiwis to pay for public transport with one card wherever they are in the country, is due for roll-out date in 2026. Metlink general manager Scott Gallacher told Newshub: "It gives us an immediate idea of the design, implementation, maintenance and administration challenges of running electronic ticketing on rail.” 

Investigation begins The KiwiRail board has appointed an external investigator to speak with departed managers following negative reports about chief executive Greg Miller. Kevin McMahon, a workplace consultant, has been tasked with doing exit interviews with about 20 senior managers who have either left or are leaving the state-owned rail operator, according to documents seen by BusinessDesk. 

Record art sale NZ artist Michael Parekōwhai's 'A Peak in Darien' has set a new record in a weekend auction that saw three artworks sell for more than $1 million. Parekowhai’s sculpture sold for $2.05 million, the most for any art work sold in NZ. Its title refers to a Keats poem and a niche term that has come to mean the surprise felt by someone when they encounter the apparition of someone dead whom they thought was alive. Two Colin McCahon works, 'St Matthew: Lightning' and 'Entombment after Titian,' sold for $1,961,375 and $1,093,090 respectively. 

Moonhot achieved Tropical Dairy Group has successfully bred a cow that can handle the heat and may also help NZ lower its agriculture emissions. The goal was to create naturally heat-tolerant cattle that produce good quality milk, said chair Tim Heeley. The original focus was on large commercial farms in heat-scorched Africa and on food and protein security.  However, it’s become “very much a global solution to what is becoming quite a recognised problem in farming around the world as temperatures get warmer”.  Heeley said he only had to look out the window in the Waikato, where it recently hit 28C and 80% humidity and it’s not even summer yet. 

Tobacco ban Calls to phase out the sale of tobacco products are growing in Australia following the publication of a survey that shows for the first time that more than half of the population supports the move. Australia has already banned the importation of nicotine e-cigarettes after use among young people rocketed.

New CEO Westpac’s new chief executive begins work today, taking the helm at a bank struggling as NZ’s least favourite. Catherine McGrath went through her interviews while in MIQ, after returning from the UK where she was Head of Channels for Barclays Group, having previously held several senior leadership roles at Barclays since 2013. McGrath will replace acting CEO Simon Power, who stepped up after the departure of longtime CEO David McLean earlier this year. Its rival banks have net promoter scores (NPS, used to rate performance) in the 20s and 30s; Westpac NZ's NPS is 14.