Wellington Scoop

54 Avatar crew fly in from LA – now in 14-day self-isolation in a Wellington hotel

Report from RNZ
Hollywood heavyweight James Cameron was among 54 Avatar crew granted permission to return to New Zealand today to resume work on the $1 billion sequels of his record-breaking feature film. The film crew touched down in Wellington this morning with approval from a little-known loophole which allows foreigners through New Zealand’s closed borders.

Last week Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford revealed there was a category for border exemptions for foreigners deemed essential to a project of “significant economic value”.

The film industry said allowing key film personnel, like producers and cast, into New Zealand would be “huge” as it could trigger thousands of jobs for Kiwis.

Fifty-seven crew members landed at Wellington Airport, including the Avatar sequels’ producer Jon Landau, who shared the news of their arrival online.

“Made it to New Zealand,” he posted on Facebook. “Our 14-day Government-supervised self-isolation now begins.”

The Oscar-winning producer last week announced he would be returning to New Zealand to resume production on the sequels, telling RNZ the crew felt “very comfortable” to be “coming to the safest place in the world”.

“We feel very comfortable because of the actions of your government and also the responsibility the people took to really curb the virus there.

“So we feel we’re coming back to the safest place in the world possible, thanks to a team of people that we’ve worked with. We believe we have a very thoughtful, detailed and diligent safety plan that will keep everybody as safe as possible in these unprecedented times.”

Landau said “far fewer people” than they had last year would be flying into New Zealand and only those deemed “essential” to the production’s filming needs would enter the country.

Air New Zealand 787-9, the first-ever commercially operated plane to fly directly from Los Angeles to Wellington, landed early this morning.

Its place of departure has now recorded more than 2900 Covid-linked deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally. There are now more than six million cases of the coronavirus worldwide – with 1.8m of those in the United States, the country worst hit from the virus. New Zealand has just one active case of Covid-19, with no new cases recorded in the past nine days. There are no Covid patients in hospital here.

The DomPost reports that the Avatar crew are staying in the QT Hotel, and quotes its manager as saying:

“Where we have people staying under 14 days of mandatory isolation, we have isolated them in the hotel side of QT Wellington, which is completely separate from our other guests who are staying in our QT apartments. As per Ministry of Health requirements, guests self-isolating are confined to their rooms with room service being left outside their doors.”

The Ministry of Health told Stuff in a statement that the group was “tested for Covid-19 before leaving the United States and all tested negative”. It said “the Ministry of Health and Regional Public Health are overseeing the implementation of the managed isolation and quarantine processes at the hotel”.


  1. Traveller, 1. June 2020, 12:30

    Surely, as a New Zealand citizen, James Cameron didn’t need permission to return to his Wairarapa farm? But no doubt that’s where he is self-isolating. For his 50+ colleagues, one of Wellington’s otherwise empty hotels must be feeling pleased to have two weeks of their business.

  2. NigelTwo, 1. June 2020, 17:27

    Traveller, you must have written that before the news broke that apparently the hotel wasn’t empty! These “colleagues” should be boarded up in the shearer’s quarters. They come from a country where the virus is currently not well controlled.
    How much will it cost the NZ taxpayer to track, trace and treat people in the next infection cluster?

  3. Manny, 8. June 2020, 19:30

    For good measure it would be best to have them tested again a few days before the end of their 14-day self isolation and before they are let out into the community regardless of whether or not they have symptoms, don’t you agree?

  4. Henry Filth, 9. June 2020, 5:06

    Surely the various rules and procedures to be followed are published, well known, with compliance being regularly and comprehensively monitored. Aren’t they?