It's hard to imagine another world leader, making an announcement as portentous as that in which the Prime Minister told us we would be moving to lockdown, using a phrase as cosy as "for a wee while". The combination of reassuring informality and the grim news it was relaying was masterful: "For the next wee while, things will look worse before they look better."
We have had a lot of shocks to deal with lately. Those who are children now will look back on this as the most historic moment in their lives (hopefully) and also the time at which they got to see someone displaying all the virtues a leader should with grace and confidence. This should be the template for dealing not just with a crisis but with the issues of every day: honesty, directness, transparency, determination, decisiveness and compassion.
When the Prime Minister reacted to the Christchurch mosque attacks, her response was immediate and instinctive. Now we have seen what she can do in a crisis when she has time to prepare.
That she too was under strain was also clear, and that told us she was going through exactly what we were. She was not above any of it. Empathy can be powerful.
We were also seeing a master communicator at work. The speech was conspicuously jargon-free – no "learnings", no "going forwards" starting sentences with "so", and only one "appropriate". Using plain speech is also confidence-inspiring because it tells us the speaker is not misusing language to cover up what is really going on or mask a lack of content, as is the case when people in business do it.
It quickly became clear, with the huge amount of data she had at her fingertips, that things were under control. At the same time as we were asked to yield many of our most basic rights, she made us feel empowered and safe. It has worked a treat, with the population ready as one last Wednesday night to do what we had to do to get us out of this mess. No rallies, no blackmail, no lies, no nepotism, no bluster, no condescension.
This was not, of course, all her own work and while we lavish praise upon the most charismatic PM of our lifetimes, we should not forget that charisma requires an army behind the scenes to make it work. And that includes the army itself, the police and the public health officials, and the statisticians and the toilers at the IRD and many more.
By the time Ardern made this week's announcement the isolated ducks were all in a row. A few gaps in the details, sure, but a remarkable number of the necessary measures already in place, good to go as required.
Opposition politicians have been commendably silent. They deserve credit for showing a bit of dignity this week too.
We saw something we see all too rarely: this country works. Its core values are intact. It can take care of business.
For the time being, we will be living the online life for which 25 years of the internet have been preparing us: shopping, amusing ourselves, communicating with each other, hooking up, doing our jobs, applying for jobs and many other activities from a screen in front of us.
As this situation gets more serious the instructions, oddly, become simpler. From washing your hands and staying away from people, we have moved to "just stay home" and, possibly the phrase for which Ardern will be best remembered: "Be kind". A friend quoted their 4-year-old referring to Ardern as the Kindness Minister. What a great legacy that would be to leave.