Aucklanders may have hoped for more imminent freedom today, but what they got instead was the big stick which the PM hopes will deliver it in a further six weeks or so.
After months of cheering people on to get vaccinated, the Prime Minister delivered the stick on Friday in the form of confirmation that vaccination certificates will become a very large part of New Zealand life for the foreseeable future. It will not be used sparingly.
It has been a road to Damascus conversion by the Prime Minister, who ruled out vaccination certificates only the week before the Delta outbreak landed, saying different categories of freedoms did not sit easily with her.
They are now the backbone of the new framework that will replace lockdowns once 90 per cent of people in every region of New Zealand are vaccinated.
They will apply at hairdressers, gyms, restaurants, bars, festivals, and anywhere that is fun.
People who refused to get vaccinated will effectively be leading a level 3 life - able only to enter places such as supermarkets and pharmacies.
Businesses that refuse to use vaccination certificates will not be eligible for Government support packages, and will have to use spacing restrictions and other measures. The Government is working on a law change to allow businesses to hire or fire based on vaccination status.
The Prime Minister's aim in setting out the oasis of delights offered to vaccinated people under the new traffic-lights system was to try to give Aucklanders enough hope to ride out the next six weeks or so that it takes to get there.
It will be at least that long before all of Auckland hits the 90 per cent double-vaccination levels required.
The only reprieve the region might get before then is the further easing of the level 3 restrictions that currently apply.
Ardern will be praying Auckland can hold it together enough for long enough to hit the traffic-lights moment. She had better pray hard because by then Aucklanders will be in their fifth month of lockdown, and looking Christmas in the eye.
It is one thing to promise the land of freedom, and another thing altogether to get there.
Ardern has not yet set a specific date if the 90 per cent target is not reached in each DHB.
Progress will be assessed again on November 29, and Ardern will face some tough decisions.
While Auckland will be allowed to move to the red light as soon as vaccination rates hit 90 per cent across its three DHB regions, it will not be allowed to move to orange until the rest of the country catches up.
And it is at orange that the real liberties kick in for vaccinated people and businesses.
What will she do about those other regions which do not hit the 90 per cent threshold needed to get us to orange? What if Auckland does not get there?
Ardern will find it almost impossible to justify to Aucklanders staying in lockdown if it falls short, or remaining a fortress because other regions are proving hard to get over the mark.
However, the PM also stands accused of leaving some people behind by declining to set a minimum rate for Māori vaccinations before that traffic-light system kicks in.
Māori are currently only at 67 per cent for the first dose – and the iwi leaders' forum has called for a 95 per cent threshold for Māori before the country can open up.
But Auckland has left her with little choice. "We cannot ask vaccinated people to stay home forever," she said and she was right – because vaccinated people simply wouldn't.
The Sir John Key plan, and those laid out by National and Act, also made it untenable to drag things out too long. They laid down a challenge and a point of comparison and they tapped into the growing discontent in Auckland.
Friday's plan was about recognising the inevitable: That the point has come when those who are vaccinated have lost patience with those who are refusing to or are dragging their heels.
Ardern admitted as much when she noted her own prior resistance to setting a target which might leave some groups behind.
That she had now done so was because she could no longer justify continuing with lockdowns to vaccinated Aucklanders.
The plan she set out is probably not as cautious as she would like.
But she is at an advantage over other countries where lockdown fatigue kicked in at much lower rates of vaccination.
In some of those countries which opened at the 70 to 80 per cent mark, things have not gone well.
Setting the 90 per cent target had to be a target the PM could be confident of hitting but not so low that we ended up in the same place as Britain.
The fear of that is why Ardern has not taken lockdowns off the table completely: They remain an option if the worst happens, but would be localised.
As for the new traffic-lights system, it will inevitably have teething problems as the reality of turning it from a plan on paper and into reality comes.
That won't worry the Government. Similar issues hit the old alert levels systems when it was first introduced, and each time it was changed, and after a few weeks it always settled down. It will also be some time before even the red light is turned on.
What is clear is that when it lands, to the vaccinated will go the spoils but for the unvaccinated life will be very miserable indeed. We will be a land of two lifestyles.
The prospect of that is exactly what the PM is hoping will serve to get enough people to give up on their hesitancy and get us to orange.