Nau mai haere mai, welcome to this week’s newsletter.

After two years of leading New Zealand’s response to COVID-19, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has announced his resignation, citing stress and exhaustion. Two of his deputies followed suit.

Burnout has become increasingly common as workers try to navigate the third year of the global pandemic. But, as explained by Victoria University’s Dougal Sutherland, frontline healthcare workers have been particularly hard hit by the stress of COVID-19.

Nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers are being forced to work contrary to their own beliefs or values, such as having to compromise on optimal care for patients due to insufficient resources. The subsequent dissonance is taking a toll on the workers’ spiritual, psychological and physical health.

But, as Sutherland points out, there are ways organisations can help employees to feel appreciated and reduce the impact of ongoing burnout.

There’s plenty more to read here and on hour homepage, including a look into the childhood roots of vaccine resistance and this clear-eyed response to NZ Rugby’s review of cultural failings within the Black Ferns rugby camp.

Until next week, take care and mā te wā.

Debrin Foxcroft

New Zealand Deputy Section Editor


The overwork pandemic: Ashley Bloomfield’s resignation highlights burnout on the COVID-19 front line

Dougal Sutherland, Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington

The resignation of the director-general of health and two of his deputies highlights the risk of burnout during the pandemic. What can employers do to help overwhelmed workers?

Getty Images

Long COVID affects 1 in 5 people following infection. Vaccination, masks and better indoor air are our best protections

John Donne Potter, Massey University; Amanda Kvalsvig, University of Otago

Studies show long COVID is common enough to be a major public-health threat. It can damage the brain and other organs and may remain silent during childhood but cause chronic disease in later life.


The Black Ferns review shows – again – why real change in women’s high performance sport is urgently overdue

Holly Thorpe, University of Waikato; Alida Shanks, Massey University

Will Rugby New Zealand’s report into culture within the Black Ferns finally be the tipping point for change – to put women at the heart of their own sports organisations?

Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images

Vaccine resistance has its roots in negative childhood experiences, a major study finds

Richie Poulton, University of Otago; Avshalom Caspi, Duke University; Terrie Moffitt, Duke University

The extraordinary Dunedin longitudinal study shows vaccine resistance can be laid down before high school age in response to childhood trauma or neglect. But better early education could help.


Should we worry about the XE variant? Maybe not yet, but ‘hybrids’ will become more frequent as COVID evolves

Jemma Geoghegan, University of Otago; David Welch, University of Auckland; Joep de Ligt, ESR

Our best chance of limiting the emergence of new recombinant COVID variants is to limit the spread of infections, using public health measures to slow and suppress the virus.

Wikimedia Commons/Jennifer Moore

A new method of extracting ancient DNA from tiny bones reveals the hidden evolutionary history of New Zealand geckos

Nic Rawlence, University of Otago; Lachie Scarsbrook, University of Oxford

Biologists have used ancient DNA, preserved in fossil bones for millennia, to study the evolution of large species, but now they can employ it to study small animals like lizards and frogs.

Shutterstock/Matt Sheumack

IPCC report: how New Zealand could reduce emissions faster and rely less on offsets to reach net zero

David Hall, Auckland University of Technology

With the world on track to blow the carbon budget for 1.5℃ before the end of this decade, we must use offsetting carefully. It can no longer be a substitute for deep emissions cuts.


Beyond tougher trade sanctions: 3 more ways NZ can add to global pressure on Russia

Alexander Gillespie, University of Waikato

With evidence mounting of Russian war crimes in Ukraine, what options beyond trade sanctions should New Zealand now consider?


As borders reopen, can New Zealand reset from high volume to ‘high values’ tourism?

Regina Scheyvens, Massey University; Apisalome Movono, Massey University

With tourism operators desperate for the return of international visitors, the industry’s challenge now is to build a new, sustainable model.


NZ’s health service is failing some communities: building a better national system requires local partnerships

Kaaren Mathias, University of Canterbury; Sarah Lovell, University of Canterbury

World Health Day is shining a light on local responses to health challenges. It’s time New Zealand takes that message to heart and works with local communities for a fairer health system.


Voiceless and vulnerable, NZ’s gig workers faced more risk with fewer protections during the pandemic

Leon Salter, Massey University; Mohan Jyoti Dutta, Massey University

A recent study highlights the precarious world of rideshare and delivery drivers during the pandemic, and their struggle to be heard as non-unionised contractors.

From our international editions

Populism and the federal election: what can we expect from Hanson, Palmer, Lambie and Katter?

Benjamin Moffitt, Australian Catholic University

Clive Palmer is back trying to win a Senate seat, while Jacqui Lambie is aiming to get a second senator elected.

‘Impulsive psychopaths like crypto’: research shows how ‘dark’ personality traits affect Bitcoin enthusiasm

Di Wang, Queensland University of Technology; Brett Martin, Queensland University of Technology; Jun Yao, Macquarie University

Narcissism and belief in conspiracy theories may be among the factors that motivate people to buy cryptocurrencies.

Best Easter pageant ever? Half a century of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

Henry Bial, University of Kansas

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s famous musical has long inspired controversy for how it depicts the story of Jesus of Nazareth.

Monkeys can sense their own heartbeats, an ability tied to mental health, consciousness and memory in humans

Joey Charbonneau, University of California, Davis; Eliza Bliss-Moreau, University of California, Davis

Researchers used a test designed for babies to show that rhesus monkeys can sense their own heartbeats. The finding opens up important paths of research into consciousness and mental health issues.

French election: as Marine Le Pen makes it to second round, the left-wing vote is what troubles president Emmanuel Macron

Paul Smith, University of Nottingham

Jean-Luc Mélenchon was the great success story of the first round. The question now becomes – who gets his votes in the second?

How Indonesia, as G20 host, can be a mediator between Russia and Ukraine

Mireille Marcia Karman, Universitas Katolik Parahyangan

The G20 summit can show how Indonesia can contribute to peace by becoming a mediator between the two parties.

The discovery of two giant dinosaur species solves the mystery of missing apex predators in North America and Asia

Darla K. Zelenitsky, University of Calgary

Two recent discoveries in Alberta and Uzbekistan have identified the top predators in those regions during the Cretaceous period. Fossils that had been in storage for years included the jawbones.

Setting up the G5 Sahel: why an option that seemed unlikely came into being

Martin Welz, University of Hamburg

The creation of the G5 Sahel added to the traffic of security groupings in the region