AUCKLAND : New Zealand plunged into recession for the first time in a decade on Thursday, as data confirmed a record-breaking economic collapse that forced Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to defend her pandemic response ahead of next month's general election.

The 12.2 per cent contraction in April-June was ''by far the largest'' since records began, national data agency State NZ said, with the country put into strict lockdown for almost two months and the country's borders closed.

Ardern rejected opposition accusations that the tough measures had pushed the economy ''off the cliff'', saying the restrictions helped contain the virus, which allowed business to resume far earlier than in many other countries.

The centre-left leader, who will go to the polls for reelection on October 17, also pointed out that New Zealand had recorded just 25 Covcid-19 cases, out of a population of five million. [AFP]


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