There is this old tune by Fred Dagg - "We don’t know how lucky we are..." in it Dagg waxes lyrical about how great it is to be living in New Zealand and its message is never more true than it is now.
Things are awful around the world right now and we as Kiwis don’t know how lucky we are to be here in Aotearoa.
The irony, of course, is that the man that created the song - John Clarke, scarpered over the ditch to Australia and that's about as far as we need to look to get some appreciation for our situation here.
As one of those Kiwis who made the move over to Oz and has recently returned, I can hand on heart say - things are awesome here compared to how they are going in Australia.
New Zealand has taken COVID-19 seriously and made changes on the fly to adapt as quickly as any western government has. Unreal work!
Our government has tried to give as much of a heads up to its citizens as it's able to, so we can get as many of us through this as possible.
There are the odd doorknobs out there, like the lads who were flouting the lockdown so they can have a blast down Skyline Skyrides' mountain bike tracks, or the bubble breakers having barbeques and parties with their friends, but on the whole, those are the exceptions, not the rule.
Don't believe me - try further afield to the UK or the USA and the response gets worse. I and many others returned to Aotearoa because it's safer here, the response is better, more effective and with a more serious attitude to knocking this off from all levels of our society - starting at the very top.
Having just returned from Australia, it's really obvious that our people understand our goals for this lockdown and that it's going to take a team effort to achieve these. Why?
Because we have effective leadership from our government. If you don’t think so - just look over the ditch to see the widespread confusion, panic buying and slow response to making hard calls, and our lot look pretty darn sharp.
The week I left Australia - March 24, my Facebook was flooded with stories of house parties, barbeques at the beach and boys fishing trips, all despite warnings, congregation bans, business shutdowns and a fast-rising infection rate and death toll.
The number of cases doubled in Queensland the day I flew back, and yet that weekend they still held local body elections, which in Australia is compulsory voting.
This meant that every eligible person in the state over 18 had to turn out in public, mid-pandemic. Hardly the sort of thing you need if you're trying to contain a fast-moving virus, which is easily transmittable.
Australians are crying out for the type of strong, direct and clear communication and leadership we have. Is it perfect? Hell no. Are we as citizens acting perfectly according to the lockdown? Hell no.
But this is a long race and we are only a few laps in - we will get there. Getting our people through this alive is all that matters.
The rest of it will sort itself out in the end. What I do find hard to grasp, having been in Australia, is adjusting to the vocal minority who are constantly negative, especially when directed at our Prime Minister for the way she has handled this unprecedented situation. To them I plead - please stop it, now is not the time.
We have an election in September and that's your moment. Until then shut up and be a team player like the majority of us are.
The constant “we should have done this earlier” talk is nothing more than hindsight, which is bewildering, given no western government reacted better than ours. Is it the perfect response? Hell no it isn’t.
But it's the best response we can see and there is no crystal ball for real life. It could have been better, it could have been far, far worse too.
We need to appreciate our role as individuals, as the Rotorua community, in making this work. We are barely a week into lockdown and already people are chafing at the bit for it to end so we go back to being able to live the way we were. Maybe my mum is right and our generation has had it too easy and that selfishness is getting the better of some of us, as evidenced by the horrible way a few have treated our essential workers, and how so many have been happy to break lockdown rules.
That needs to stop and as a community, I would hope if you see this in action you aren’t silent. I would love it if we could get this done perfectly with all smiles and minimal disruption, but that's a movie script and we live in a vastly more complex reality.
New Zealand, as Mr Dagg pointed out, doesn’t know how lucky we are and we should appreciate our situation.
More of us will survive this thanks to good government and a great attitude from the majority of our people.
We just need to isolate, stay in our bubbles and wash our hands - and a little appreciation and understanding for everyone who's working during this time, for those at the top and at the coal face also wouldn't hurt either. We've got this.
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