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The power of a 5 million Kiwis working as one

The power of a 5 million Kiwis working as one   

The story of Covid-19 in this country will focus very much on how a nation with limited people and resources responded to a challenge of global consequences with what appear to be winning results. Based around a consistent and simple mantra of:  Be well, be kind, be safe.

Perhaps the last time we all united for such an undertaking was when the late Sir Peter Blake led Team New Zealand to successive victories in the America's Cup yacht competition in 1995 and 2000. The key to this success was that Blake focused the team on one question, which they asked about everything they did: "Will it make the boat go faster?”

In 2020, the race was not just about winning the world’s oldest sporting cup. It was about survival. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern used the energy and analogy of the Team New Zealand ethos in thanking the country for its efforts.  This came at time when the transition was being made from Level 3 to Level 2. 

Our story in the world.

Overseas media, in this case the United Kingdom newspaper The Guardian told a similar sort of story. 

Ardern thanked her “team of five million” for the sacrifices they had made to protect the country’s most vulnerable, specifically the elderly and immunosuppressed.

“Kiwis from all walks of life were resolute and determined – determined that this was a war we could eventually win, but only if we acted together,” Ardern said.

“The battle is won, but the war is not over.”

At a national through to an individual level, New Zealand is emerging from a period of ‘lock down’ that has produced its own share of challenges.  Coming out into a new world will require small steps rather than giant leaps. 

Ironically for this ‘new’ New Zealand ‘dream team’ some of the challenges have produced anxiety and even nightmares. 

Ironically, this might be the first time that actively practicing social isolation is a method to improve health on the one hand.  On the other is understanding what this means to an already looming loneliness crisis.  Clearly there are no easy answers as there were no simple short cuts to meeting the pandemic head on. 


Very quickly—literally with two-day’s notice—New Zealand went into lock down.  The prospect was daunting for all but even more so for people over 70 who were told to remain ‘safe’ at home.  Those who ventured out briefly were challenged and, in some cases, accused of being responsible for the actual spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

In terms of vulnerability, this same age group were identified as those at greatest risk.  In trying to get information they, along with others, were bombarded with false and misleading information about a whole host of different aspects of the pandemic.  Finding definitive information about what was not just applicable but also true became a challenge.

Fortunately for the country the New Zealand Government and the Ministry of Health were clear on their messages and actions.