New Zealand approves Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine

The vaccines are expected to arrive in New Zealand by the end of the first quarter, the government said, adding people at highest risk would be vaccinated first before the broader community from the second half of the year.

With vaccination drives underway in dozens of countries including the United States, India and China, pressure has been mounting on Ardern to start inoculations for the country's 5 million people.

Opposition party leaders and critics have said New Zealand has fallen behind the rest of the world and risked losing its advantage after virtually eliminating COVID-19 through a tough lockdown and border closures.