"Everything you will all give up over the next few weeks, all of the lost contact with others, all of the isolation and difficult time entertaining children - it will literally save lives, thousands of lives," said the Prime Minister at the beginning of the pandemic.
She was right, of course. We'll never know how right she was, and how many lives were saved, but looking overseas, it's clear we've had a good run in a terrible pandemic.
Perhaps I flatter myself about this column's readership - but there's a decent chance someone reading this has, without knowing it, had their life saved by nearly two years of infection prevention measures. An asthmatic myself, I didn't fancy my chances last year.
As we enter the "opening up" phase of the pandemic, it's worth remembering we'll be opening up our economy with a vaccination rate likely higher than 90 per cent of the eligible population, likely dodging the worst of things.
This bias towards caution has clearly served the country well, but it also appears to have fostered a sense of complacency, both towards adapting infection prevention measures to a non-elimination strategy (as revealed in select committee on Wednesday), and towards the sacrifice made by New Zealanders overseas.
The pandemic is an ethical nightmare - one that gets worse as it goes along.
In the early days, the ethical question was a relatively simple one: a shared, brief sacrifice by everyone, for the safety of thousands - or tens of thousands of people.
Some, particularly those in poor accommodation, sacrificed more than others - but I would tender that most people sacrificed a lot.
Currently, some of the people sacrificing the most are New Zealanders overseas, locked out of the country by a restrictive but necessary MIQ system.
Some are in truly dire straits: they're trying to book a spot to come home to visit dying relatives and friends.
Others simply want to come home to reconnect with loved ones - I say "simply", but there's actually nothing simple about being shut away from one's family for nearly two years.
We at home are too flippant about the huge importance of family visits. People also have a right to visit family when they're not terminally ill, after all.
The Government has been excessively slow-moving when it comes to adjusting MIQ settings.
It has shortened MIQ stays, but beyond that there is little evidence it is adjusting settings as the domestic and international risk profile changes.
It would appear the whole system needs a rethink - and an injection of compassion.
A case I spoke to yesterday was unable to get an exemption to leave MIQ early to visit a terminally ill relative, despite being double vaccinated, and returning negative tests.
What risk can a case like this pose that justifies such an arcane denial of a fundamental, basic right of family members to comfort each other in their final hours?
This case is certainly not a "zero" risk - no case is, but they're certainly not dangerous enough to justify such treatment.
MIQ policy on compassionate exemption has been embarrassingly slow. It's only "recently" begun even taking vaccination status into account when assessing compassionate cases.
The whole system is in need of an ethical rethink. The Government has rightly stuck to a voluntary vaccination rollout; People who are unvaccinated have every right to make their own medical choices about their own bodies, but it's not clear why the people who pay the price for that decision should be Kiwis who are vaccinated.
People who made the right choice continue to be penalised, while those who have not have faced very little consequence until recently, and will not face any real consequence until December.
People move overseas for a number of reasons. Many move simply to have a great time, but New Zealanders at home are in denial about the number of purely economic emigrants we send into the world each year. New Zealand is - and has been for a long time - an abysmally expensive place to live. It's a country where wages are low and costs are high.
Many New Zealanders, particularly in Australia, are there because they cannot afford to be here - having effectively forced them offshore, what right do we have to deprive them of the opportunity to visit family who remain?
The ethical problem with the border was hashed out quite well in Parliament yesterday. Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins said cases coming through the border were "cumulative risks", meaning they were risks added on top of the risk of cases already in the community.
This is a riposte to the other way of thinking about the border, which is acknowledging that with so much Covid already in the community, what's the harm of a couple more cases introduced to a highly vaccinated country.
Hipkins' opposite number Chris Bishop rebuked him, saying they were not "cumulative risks".
"They are New Zealanders, they are humans - they are citizens," Bishop said.
The truth is that cases coming through the border are both a cumulative risk, and an often sad human story worthy of compassion.
The border will always involve balancing both risk and compassion - the Government needs to show more evidence that it is constantly getting this fine balance right.