PM announces Royal Commission of Inquiry into Covid-19 response

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the country's management of Covid-19, with the purpose of preparing for future pandemics.

The overall response, including the economic response, will be examined by the royal commission to determine what lessons can be drawn from it and how they might be applied to any potential pandemics in the future.

“A royal commission of inquiry is the highest form of public inquiry and is the right thing to do, given the Covid-19 emergency was the most significant threat to the health of New Zealanders and our economy since World War II," Ardern said during her post-cabinet briefing in Wellington.

Australian-based epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely will chair the inquiry, alongside former National Party minister Hekia Parata and former Treasury secretary John Whitehead.

The royal commission will begin considering evidence from February 1, 2023 and conclude in mid-2024.

The inquiry scope includes several aspects, such as Māori interests consideration during a pandemic that was consistent with Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the border, community care, quarantine and others.

However, some aspects that are not included in the inquiry scope are vaccine efficacy, recent reforms to the health system, the conduct of the 2020 election during the pandemic and more.

In the past week, 34,528 new cases have been reported, of which 9,099 are reinfections and 287 are reinfections within the last 90 days.