As well as keeping hospitalisations and deaths to a minimum, the Government's effective pandemic response has so far prevented Covid-19 from poisoning our politics.
Sure, there's plenty of frustration about the current lockdown, and criticism around aspects of the Government's policies. Among people who never liked the PM to begin with, there's also some audible moaning about Ardern's media appearances and purportedly condescending tone. But that's theatre criticism, not a substantive policy critique.
In fact, in a world beset with an unprecedented confluence of crises – of which the pandemic is only one – it's almost quaint that the single biggest political story during a week of nationwide lockdown is whether Parliament should conduct its business on Zoom or not. There isn't the country on Earth that wouldn't trade their problems for ours at the moment.
Of course, at the outer fringes, you'll find a small but vocal cohort of anti-vaxxers and Covid sceptics, some even dragging themselves away from YouTube for long enough to take to the streets in defiance of lockdown rules, where they conflate cloth face coverings with tyranny, or demand Ardern's extradition to the Hague.
But these really are the one-percenters, by which I mean the bedraggled oddballs who gave Advance New Zealand's its 28,000 votes at the 2020 election.
Of 120 parliamentarians, not one New Zealand MP engages in anti-vax or anti-mask rhetoric of any kind, even of the winking variety. (One former MP, Matt King, in a futile grasp for relevance, is dipping in conspiratorial waters, but that's the closest we've got).
While I can't claim to have looked everywhere, a quick survey reveals few countries where the political class is in such lockstep behind common sense.
Covid conspiracies are running amok across the United States. To take one of countless examples, Ron DeSantis, the Governor of Florida, a state whose population is four times ours, is threatening to defund public schools for mask mandates and wants to prosecute cruise liners for requiring proof of vaccines – before their most elderly passengers climb aboard giant floating petri dishes.
Meanwhile, a Las Vegas pet store ran out of Ivermectin, a horse de-wormer, because the same people who dispute the science behind vaccines saw somewhere on Facebook that it might cure Covid. In humans.
Closer to home, Australian Federal MP Craig Kelly's propagation of vaccine disinformation was so egregious even the recklessly laissez-faire Facebook banned him. That hasn't stopped Kelly, though.
He jumped over to Telegram, the social media platform of last resort, where, on Tuesday, he set his sights on New South Wales' Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant as she battles a spiralling Delta outbreak, calling her a "demonic vax-cultist".
It would be comforting to believe there's something innate to the Kiwi character that prevents us, or at least most of us, from falling for this type of Covid lunacy. But that would be naive. The human capacity for unreason doesn't skip countries.
Imagine for a moment our national leadership had dropped the ball in 2020, failing to avert a major initial outbreak that led to hundreds of deaths and pushed our health system beyond breaking point.
In an election year, what would that have meant for our politics? Could we have even conducted a free and fair election in the midst of such an outbreak?
Forget contact-tracing protocols, or managed isolation, or short and sharp lockdowns. None of that would have been plausible. As for the economy, it would have created a recession from which it would take years to recover. My as-yet-unborn mokopuna would still be paying off debts incurred as the Government scrambled to keep the whole thing afloat.
Now imagine this played out a second time, this time with Delta.
In such a scenario, perhaps the most lasting damage would have been to our unusually high levels of faith in governing institutions – something that has held steady in New Zealand over decades, regardless of which party was in power. Trust, as PR consultants will tell you, takes years to earn but will dissipate in the blink of an eye.
Under these conditions, I suspect the kind of toxic, destructive politics we see in other parts of the world would have taken hold far more quickly and decisively than we'd like to admit. Simmering resentments on many fronts would soon boil over. Our own Craig Kellys and Ron DeSantises would soon emerge, stoking division, seeking someone to blame.
So I'm grateful, not just that my whānau has been protected from a killer disease, but that the effectiveness of the response has, at least for the time being, inoculated us from the kind of politics that would have arisen from failure. I'm also grateful that our Opposition has, for the most part, played a constructive role, avoiding the temptation to exploit for their own advantage the fear and uncertainty that comes along with a pandemic. If roles had been reversed, I'm confident the same would have held true.
Great challenges remain ahead, both with managing the pandemic as the virus continues to evolve, but also with the other crises we face, none more so than the urgent threat of climate change. But, despite the harrowing past 20 months, I am more hopeful of our capacity to overcome them than I was before Covid hit – and that's saying something.
• Shane Te Pou (Ngai Tuhoe) is a company director at Mega Ltd, a commentator and blogger and a former Labour Party activist