A major international survey has shown New Zealanders feel much more united than before Covid-19, bucking a global trend that has seen the majority of countries descend into division.
As the Covid-19 pandemic enters its second year disrupting life around the globe, most people say their societies are more divided now than before the pandemic, according to a Pew Research Center survey in 17 advanced economies.
New Zealand and several other countries in the Asia-Pacific region have stood out, however.
In New Zealand 75 per cent said they felt the country was more unified than before, only behind Singapore at 86 per cent.
In the United States the opposite was true with 88 per cent reporting they felt more divided.
New Zealand, which has seen among the lowest rates of cases and Covid-19-related deaths per capita, came out on top for the proportion of people who felt the restrictions were about right, at 80 per cent.
Meanwhile the United States, which has the highest total amount of cases and deaths, was at the bottom with just 17 per cent agreeing the restrictions were right.
New Zealanders were also the most likely to report little change to their lives since the pandemic began.
Just 33 per cent said their lives had changed "a great deal" - 5 per cent less than Australia. In South Korea 87 per cent said their lives had changed "a great deal".
Report authors said this was likely due to New Zealand and Australia being "relatively sheltered from the worst of the pandemic", due to its response measures and geography.
The authors also noted during their fieldwork, the quarantine-free travel bubble opened up between the countries, adding a potential further sense of return to normality.
There were stark differences however between different age groups. In New Zealand 18 per cent of those over 65 felt their lives had changed a "great deal" compared with 45 per cent of those aged 18 to 29.
The survey, which included over 16,000 people from the 16 countries excluding the United States, also identified correlations between political ideologies and economic views, and levels of restrictions.
Those who thought the economic situation was bad and disagreed with restrictions were more likely to say their society was divided. New Zealand experienced the fourth-highest differential, with 16 per cent saying the economy was good and more divided, compared with 42 per cent who said it was bad and divided.
Sweden had the highest difference, 48 per cent compared with 83 per cent.
In New Zealand just 5 per cent on the left felt there should be fewer restrictions, compared with 17 per cent on the right.
The split was far more divided in the United States, where 7 per cent on the left felt there should be fewer restrictions compared with 52 per cent on the right.
Overall nearly all adults in Singapore and New Zealand said their own countries did a good job dealing with the outbreak (97 per cent and 96 per cent, respectively), including more than seven-in-ten who say the response has been very good.
In the United States it was just 42 per cent.
University of Auckland political scientist Dr Lara Greaves said the results were generally what most people would be expecting.
"I think it reflects the success of the strategy overall, combination of listening to experts and our geography. Seeing that success does shift the attitude to more united, and that was reflected in the election result.
"But I think it has been quite a collective strategy. Slogans like 'United Against Covid-19', 'Team of 5 million', all working together as a team against the Covid challenge.
"It shows when you try and unite a country, it works. Even the opposition has really not tried to divide the country, apart from some small very vocal pockets.
"Meanwhile in the United States politicians have specifically been trying to divide the country."
Another aspect was purely New Zealand's small size and relative lack of diversity, making it easier to unite.
"That said surveys like this are often not good for Māori, Pasifika, Asian representation, and are likely more privileged Pākehā respondents," Greaves said.
"So it can only tell so much, and I am sure a lot of people who have lost their jobs, seen economic upheaval might disagree."
Clinical psychologist Sarb Johal said even though New Zealand had arguably some of the most stringent measures in the world, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, leadership and messaging was "clear and consistent", resonating with New Zealanders.
Things like the wage subsidy also helped make sure peoples' basic needs were met, easing the "biggest concerns" in times of crisis.
"They addressed this early and comparatively consistently... along with an empathetic understanding of people's lived experience."
The success also helped build trust between with the Government, Johal said.
Challenges remained though, particularly the vaccination stage and figuring out how to re-enter the global community.
"Fault-lines between communities may yet appear. It will be critical to ensure that people are not disadvantaged through any Covid-19 recovery."
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the results were "encouraging",
"There's no doubt Covid has tested us as a country but we've all risen to the challenge and pulled together as a nation.
"The concept of the team of five million clearly struck a chord, and New Zealanders should feel proud of the part they've all played."
Hipkins said he thought people felt comforted Government decisions had been guided by expert advice, modifying as the science changed.
"The challenge now is for Kiwis to unite around the vaccine so that as many people as possible come forward to get vaccinated by the end of the year."