A new NZ Herald-Kantar poll reveals what Kiwis think of the Government's strategy to eliminate Covid-19.
The poll of 1000 New Zealanders asked participants if Aotearoa should continue with its strategy of Covid-19 elimination - and it reveals strong support for the approach.
Almost half of those surveyed, 46 per cent, believed we should pursue Covid-19 elimination.
A further 39 per cent support elimination until more than 70 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated.
"I'm really relieved to hear that because it feels like we're getting a lot of pundits from here and overseas telling us that elimination is the wrong approach," microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles said.
Elimination of the virus consists of four aspects - border management, detection and surveillance, quarantine, and community support - to stamp out positive cases in the community.
Only 13 per cent of those polled said we will have to "learn to live" with Covid, while 2 per cent were unsure.
The poll was conducted between Thursday, August 26, and Monday, August 30, and has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.
Those on higher incomes were more likely to believe that New Zealand should pursue Covid-19 elimination only until more than 70 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated - at 47 per cent support compared to 38 per cent for outright elimination.
Otherwise, overall positions on elimination was relatively consistent across age, gender and regional demographics.
For the surveyed age groups of 18-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 and 60-plus, complete support for elimination ranged between 44-49 per cent - the highest numbers coming from people between 40-49 and 50-59.
For those who supported elimination until high vaccination rates were achieved, the range was between 35-41 per cent. A range of between 11-15 per cent was recorded from people across the age-groups who didn't support elimination.
Regionally, the poll was split into five areas - Auckland, Canterbury, Wellington, the rest of the North Island and the rest of the South Island.
People in the capital were more in favour of elimination at 55 per cent, with 37 per cent supporting elimination until high vaccination rates and just nine per cent not in favour.
Canterbury registered the highest number of people who didn't believe in elimination, at 16 per cent.
Experts are welcoming the results, saying they indicate the public is aware of elimination's benefits.
"A lot of people feel comfortable and secure with those current [elimination] settings," University of Otago epidemiologist professor Michael Baker said.
"I think that actually shows that the public is highly informed."
Baker believed "elimination" and "elimination until high vaccination levels" were two strong options, but there was insufficient evidence to decide what the optimal approach was.
He said the 70 per cent threshold used in the poll was much too low, noting future surveys could be more specific in what levels the public were comfortable with and whether those levels applied to the total or vaccine-eligible population.
Wiles, who was heartened by the results, also said 70 per cent was too low to start removing public health measures.
"We're looking at 70 per cent vaccinated in other countries and seeing widespread transmission and rising numbers in hospital."
Wiles warned that without a vaccine safe for children, opening up too early or abandoning elimination would put that population in particular at risk.
She also cited the dearth of information on the long-lasting effects of Covid-19 as a reason to stamp out the virus.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the poll showed New Zealanders knew elimination meant saving lives.
"Support from nearly nine in 10 Kiwis to keep Covid-19 out of New Zealand is a strong endorsement and really is testament to the hard work of all five million of us."
However, he was reluctant to say how many people would have to be vaccinated to relax elimination public health measures.
"It's too early to predict precisely where we'll land, but as of [yesterday], 79 per cent of people aged 30 plus are booked or have been vaccinated with at least one dose, along with 83 per cent of people aged 40 plus."
National Party Covid response spokesman Chris Bishop said the poll demonstrated elimination was the right strategy for New Zealand.
"There will be Covid in New Zealand in the future; what's really important is that we aggressively stamp it out as it comes in."
He saw between 70-80 per cent of the population vaccinated as a good target, given the number of people he met who were reluctant to get the jab.
"I think we're going to have a battle on our hands getting above 70 per cent and we need to think of innovative ways to get people vaccinated."