I don't think it would have mattered how hard the Prime Minister tried, she was never going to satisfy all New Zealanders in her government's response to dealing with Covid-19, the Delta variant and now Omicron. That's expecting the impossible. However, there does now seem to be a growing "posse of moaners" among us. Those who think only of themselves, what's good for them and what they want to do. The Prime Minister on the other hand carries the responsibility of keeping our entire population of five million citizens safe.
Sometimes I think the posse of moaners would have preferred if New Zealand had, like other countries, a sizable number of Covid deaths, say between 2000 and 3000. Presumably, this would have satisfied them.
It could have been a lot worse if we hadn't gone hard and gone early and it turns out it was the right strategy after all. But because New Zealand has only seen 49 deaths so far "going hard and going early" was a big fat waste of time? Wasn't worth the effort, all the social costs and economic upheaval? The posse of moaners also stridently believes the vaccination campaign has "come at a huge cost to personal freedoms".
The Covid-19 scourge arrived on the world scene two years ago. Reports from the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggested Covid was a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. Never seen the like in the past 100 years. New Zealand followed the rest of the world, watched and waited.
Our government talked to overseas governments and experts and to our own eminent health researchers, virologists and scientists. The Prime Minister and her advisers would have burned the midnight oil countless nights, trying to develop a plan to keep New Zealanders safe. If we were going to rely on, and follow, what other countries had attempted to put in place, we scotched that idea early on. Like New Zealand, they were feeling their way too. Trying to keep their citizens safe.
We watched as many of their strategies failed. We didn't want to repeat those so opted to develop our own responses. We developed our own timeframes for these as well.
Those working on solutions didn't have the luxury of sitting back quietly, taking time to chew things over and ruminate. They had to quickly and systematically work through the options as they were developed. They went with what felt the best course of action at the time. They were focused on keeping New Zealanders safe. There was the responsibility for five million.
The posse of moaners says things like we could have done better in many areas: opened our borders long ago; imposed alert levels for minimum periods; let businesses suit themselves whether to open or not; started vaccinating earlier. And they are probably right with some of their concerns. But our government had to try a mix of strategies and actions, then evaluate their effectiveness, or otherwise.
I do support the valid concerns raised by Māori health providers and iwi leaders at the recent urgent hearing of the Waitangi Tribunal. Submitters highlighted breaches of Te Tiriti O Waitangi in the government's Covid-19 response to Maori. Not to be confused, or compared, with the posse of moaners.
It appears to me that moaners seem to think only of themselves. They are not leaders. Leaders do not cave in when the going gets tough. They do not set out to be popular. They get real and they stay real. They never lose touch with reality.
Covid was a problem New Zealand could not ignore. The Prime Minister and government remembered the mission: Keep the team of five million safe. The majority of the team know the government has indeed kept us safe. The posse of moaners has had their day too. They had a platform to show their discontent.
In my view, if it wasn't Covid it would have been something else. The dark side of human nature emerged in some in the posse of moaners. We are seeing the impacts on its leaders and followers alike.
I don't see leadership through rose-coloured glasses. That would be a mistake because we tend to learn more from our failures than from our successes. But I believe under the leadership of Jacinda Ardern and the Labour government New Zealand has been spared the untold pain and suffering we have seen other countries endure.
Could we have done better? With hindsight and when, in the future, a review is undertaken into how New Zealand responded to Covid, I'm sure it will emerge that other plans and actions could have been attempted, and possibly sooner rather than later in some cases. But our government did what it did with the resources it had available, and it started as soon as it could.
The team of five million is still standing. And for that, I thank our Prime Minister and her government. I hope they will all have a blessed Christmas with family and friends and a great start to 2022. They deserve it.