There is no doubt New Zealanders are relieved to have put 2021 firmly in the rear-view mirror.
That collective sense of relief is palpable; most acutely for Aucklanders, now in the orange setting of the Government's traffic light framework, having endured a long lonely lockdown, carrying the load for the rest of New Zealand.
Despite understanding our relative good fortune compared with elsewhere in the world, we are Covid-weary.
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And while we know we must still be wary, 2022 is the start of us learning to live with the virus in a new new normal where Covid is the background to our lives, not the relentlessly dominant feature. Impressively vaxxed, many individuals, businesses and sectors are desperate to re-engage with others and the world.
Our enthusiasm for seeing the silver lining in the Covid clouds that was apparent after the first, then novel, nationwide lockdown in 2020 has definitely waned. Then, we got creative, became more green-fingered, appreciated the environmental wonders occurring as our footprint faded for a time. Despite the frustrations, many revelled in having more time with partners and children, an enforced slower pace of life.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could still take some of those lessons learnt, through our success and solidarity, and put them to work in other arenas?
We took a global lead with our elimination strategy and showed that where there is the collective and political will, there is a way. Our health system has, so far, coped with the Covid caseload in a rapidly changing environment. That has been helped in no small part by Kiwis' vaccination efforts and the dedication of frontline staff. Yet the glitches have been obvious, and clinicians still fear the system could be overwhelmed. We must address the problems of staff recruitment and retention, workloads, planning and communication, funding, the country's ageing infrastructure, the rural and urban divide and the other social equity issues exposed.
We have been lauded on the world stage in various other areas, but we have serious work to do on some monumental challenges, largely sidelined in our fight against the virus: climate change, housing affordability, poverty, education.
We have shown what can be achieved by a team of five million pulling together for the greater good in a short timeframe under immense pressure. We have shown the simple acts of being kind, encouraging and supportive are not just empty slogans, but part of our proud cultural identity.
We could still be heroes - in so many ways.