This week, I've been reaching out and asking people how they're going in lockdown. A friend my age replied, "we need to see a way out."
The first level 4 lockdown last year was new. We tuned in to Beehive announcements, started to refer to homes as "bubbles", and kept two metres apart to stop the spread of the virus. Life plans went on hold.
When the Prime Minister gave the news of this level 4 lockdown, people knew what to do. We put on face masks, divided the kitchen table into school workstations for the kids, and bunkered down again.
But it feels harder this time. Parents are saying it's harder to get their kids out of bed and motivated to start schoolwork. Business owners seem more tired, wearied by cancelling orders and weeks of bookings again. Fewer teddy bears have come to the window.
We all understand the need for a lockdown as there's Covid in the community and we need to stamp it out.
Yet, there's a bubbling sense of unease.
I'm worried for the under-30s. Covid hasn't been easy for anyone, but it's the younger generation that will feel the effects of the Government's response to it for much longer.
Your 20s should be exciting, filled with new experiences and opportunities. Except, it's hard to set life goals in a climate of great uncertainty. If you go overseas, how easy will it be to get back, with MIQ spaces shrinking even further in response to this latest outbreak?
We are 18 months on, and this lockdown feels like we're back to where we started. Is it possible that we'll be doing the same thing in another 18 months' time? If we are, then the balance between staying and going tilts overseas with every Instagram picture of normal life offshore. This in a country that can't afford to lose one more ICU nurse.
Young people have been hit around the world, but the uncertainty for young New Zealanders will only get greater as the Government plots a course for reconnecting with the world.
Not only were young people starting their careers hit hardest by job losses last year, home ownership got further away for those who are earning.
We already knew before Covid hit last year that the dream of home ownership was slipping away from first-home buyers.
As a result of the Reserve Bank printing money to stimulate the economy, the average house price rose $200,000. That's great for the economy, but the price is paid by those at the start of adulthood. After just one year, a young couple budgeting hard for a 20 per cent deposit now needs to save $40,000 extra for a deposit on the average house.
Apart from inflation, there is also government debt. In four short years the Government will borrow $140 billion in response to Covid, and it'll take a generation to pay it back.
Nobody's saying it's easy, responding to a pandemic. What's done is done and perhaps it was all necessary. What young people need is a way out of this that doesn't involve leaving New Zealand.
If younger people are bearing a large part of the burden, on behalf of all New Zealanders, they have the greatest interest in what the Government's been doing to lessen the impact, and what it could be doing better.
We don't need to be spun. Being digital natives has made us cynical enough without Jacinda's "good news" and colourful graphs. We just need to know the truth.
What is the strategy for getting out of this? How much longer will New Zealand rely on lockdowns as its primary response to an outbreak, and what will replace them? How can we be sure that the Government is using its time right now better than it used the past 18 months, when it seems to have been napping?
As we plan out our futures like generations before us, looking over a mountain of Covid asset inflation and government debt, we want to see a plan. It doesn't need to be sugar-coated, just the wholesome truth. Less of the coco pops please, Jacinda, we are ready for natural muesli. Please treat us like the young adults we are.
• Brooke van Velden is Act Party Deputy Leader.