Thirty-six years ago, it really did feel as if New Zealand had become the country it could be.
And it took a frail and ailing little girl to show us how.
Eve van Grafhorst was unwittingly given HIV-tainted blood at birth on July 17, 1982, in Australia. After her condition became known in 1985, she was forced to wear a full-face plastic mask at daycare in New South Wales. Public meetings called for the family to take her out of the centre and to leave town.
HIV and the resultant Aids were little understood and there was plenty of fear about how it could spread, as well as stigmatising of those infected, particularly among homosexuals.
Yet, after media reports about Eve, a fundraising effort sprang up to relocate the family to New Zealand. Pretty soon the hounded and traumatised family touched down in Hawke's Bay to a different world of welcoming arms.
Sure, some people were anxious. But reason won. Reason, and a little girl's disarming understanding of other people's concerns.
Eve, who became known as Angel Eve, lived a mere 11 years. But she deposited love in the hearts she touched for these following decades.
Her lesson is as valid today as it was then. Love can reach beyond affliction and bridge the voids created by prejudice.
During this current Covid-19 pandemic, with its continually evolving variants, and when facing future threats such as monkeypox, New Zealanders are understandably concerned.
The World Health Organisation says the number of outbreaks of diseases that jumped from animals to humans in Africa has surged by more than 60 per cent in the last decade. It's a worrying sign the planet could face increased animal-borne diseases such as monkeypox, Ebola and coronavirus in the future.
In a bio-dynamic world, viruses and diseases will constantly crop up to affect people. But these conditions do not discriminate on who to alight on. Nor should we. Health problems do not alter who we are as people, nor diminish the respect we deserve.
Remember Angel Eve. Remember love.