The global Covid-19 pandemic puts us in a perilous warlike situation that demands a government of national unity in which all parliamentary parties participate in decision-making policies.
This is imperative because our longstanding quarrelsome individualism, divisiveness and disconnectedness make it difficult for politicians to implement collaborative, enlightened and effective policies.
Despite our Government's strictly enforced lockdown resulting in no cases of Covid-19 community transmission for many weeks, it is not enough. We desperately need a widely representative government of national unity to implement wise policies for our economy, crippled by the lockdown, to recover.
Many longstanding formidable problems, especially cultural and financial, would confront this proposed government.
Shortly after Judith Collins was appointed leader of the National Party on Tuesday evening, she said: "We are a team that is absolutely determined to take the fight to the Government."
Some time ago Collins invoked her version of Niccolo Machiavelli's oft-quoted dictum: "It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both."
Collins' confrontational opinions conform to what the esteemed, recently deceased, New Zealand journalist and author Gordon McLauchlan maintained has long bedevilled us, adrift in a tumultuous and rapidly evolving world.
Short of a mammoth calamity affecting all of New Zealand, he cannot see us changing: "There is no debate in this country. A typical New Zealand debate involves someone shouting and someone shouting back and there is an embarrassed silence … It's just you can't get them off their a*** to make them feel strongly about things that should matter to them more."
Further, we are reluctant to acknowledge and celebrate the successes of many fellow New Zealand achievers.
The eminent and prolific late New Zealand author Sir James McNeish deplores how New Zealanders often belittle the accomplishments of our achievers: "It became apparent that instead of a passport to leadership and high office, as [Cecil] Rhodes had intended, a Rhodes Scholarship to the returning New Zealander might prove less a gift than a burden, even a stigma."
Central government determines our fiscal system - which markedly favours property and land investments, as if selling houses to one another would be our salvation. Consequently, the productive sector of our economy is starved of capital. Successive governments have long failed to correct this anomaly.
Although Jacinda Ardern stated in her campaign prior to becoming prime minister that she would implement a capital gains tax, in power she has failed to do so. Ardern conforms to former Prime Minister Helen Clark's "no surprises" policy. The latter is due in part to our short parliamentary term of just three years. For fear of not being re-elected, Governments are reluctant to implement significant policies that take time to produce positive outcomes.
Since the former Labour Party finance minister Sir Roger Douglas' free-market policies in the 1980s, commonly known as "Rogernomics", much of our economy is owned by foreigners. Our four major Australian-owned banks account for more than 90 per cent of bank lending in New Zealand. Last financial year these banks made some $5 billion profit.
Forestry is also 90 per cent owned by foreigners, who overwhelmingly export raw logs. Hence, we import much processed timber. Viticulture is also mainly owned by foreigners.
Multiple other serious issues confront many New Zealanders. They include a quarter of children living below the poverty line and the marked rich/poor divide.
Further, we are one of the few developed countries that has neither a wealth tax, an inheritance tax nor a capital gains tax. The working poor's struggle to make ends meet is exacerbated by our low median wage and low productivity levels. Home-ownership is beyond reach for many, with some families living in garages and cars. It is a crisis.
In Auckland where, according to the OECD, one-third of New Zealand's population lives, the cost of living is higher than in London or New York. And our youth suicide rate is one of the highest in the world.
This daunting litany of issues raises the question: where do we start to rectify this sad state of affairs?
Finland, Norway and Denmark, nations with similar populations to ours and which often top international rankings of human development, are worthwhile models.
Contented, cohesive and well-resourced families underpin the success of these nations' communities. forming the basis of their enviable wellbeing and prosperity.
Though the Nordic nations' taxes are higher than ours they are acceptable for most because benefits accrue - such as substantial state-funded healthcare, education, retirement and disability pensions.
The enlightened Nordic socioeconomic measures cited above, if implemented in New Zealand, could appreciably raise the overall standard of living of the great majority of our people.
• John Hawkes is a fourth-generation Kiwi; a medical graduate of Dunedin Medical School; a consultant rheumatologist near London for 25 years; a NZ athletics champion; and author of New Zealand: Paradise Squandered?