It sure puts Covid into perspective, doesn't it? Auckland, according to the Economist's Global Liveability Index, released last week, is now the world's most liveable city. And it's all because of our response to the pandemic.
Britain has just delayed lifting all restrictions by another month. The fast rollout of vaccines in the US has stalled at around 50 per cent, because nobody really knows how to persuade the remaining half of the population to get the jab.
European and Asian countries alike slide in and out of Covid crises. The nightmare that is India seems almost beyond redemption. This is a terrible tragedy.
Here in Tāmaki Makaurau, meanwhile, we enjoy the luxury of debating the future of yachting contests, school zones and cycling on the harbour bridge.
Yes, for now and at least into the near future, Auckland has every reason to think of itself as the world's most liveable city. But the bar is very low.
And frankly, it's not very encouraging that Osaka came second. The Japanese city has uncontrolled Covid and is set to be half submerged by even a minimal rise in sea levels.
Here, though, setting Covid aside, what else have we got to crow, or complain, about?
We're tremendously liveable, obviously, if you own property - and cruelly not so if you don't. We're tremendously liveable if your life doesn't oblige you to get stuck in traffic, but not so much, etc.
Some of us have reasonably well-paid future-focused jobs while others of us are precariously clinging to the gig economy, or are on minimum wage, or are not in the productive economy at all.
The fact is, measuring liveability is a spurious business. The only markers that count should be the ones that acknowledge we're doing well when we're all doing well.
I'd include cultural life in that. Later this year, Te Matatini, will showcase the thrilling depth of kapa haka talent in this city, just as the recently closed Toi Tū Toi Ora show did at Auckland Art Gallery.
The APO performs way above its station, with wildly popular community outreach activities to complement its town hall programme – and the NZSO regularly cruises into town too. And all over the city, the clubs and bars, theatres and galleries, bookshops and libraries, parks and other venues are bursting with art and entertainments of all kinds.
And there's this: you can get up early or slope off after work, and walk or ride up Mt Eden, and know you are in a place of glory. You can do that with 49 other volcanoes too. And then go swimming in the warm and wonderful sea.
You don't even have to do it; sometimes it's enough just to know you can.
There are more ups and downs. It's a relatively easy place to set up in business, but we don't have a big base of entrepreneurial achievement.
Most business groups seem, from their public pronouncements, to be unaware that there's a climate crisis. Why isn't business leadership in this town more progressive? But there are some marvellous exceptions to that: private sector civic leaders in the Aotearoa Circle, Sustainable Business NZ and elsewhere who keep the flame of the late Rob Fenwick burning bright.
There are more guns than there used to be, and more people prepared to use them. There are many cycleways, but way too many places still without them. We have very good universities and free trades training too. There's a big cohort of excellent chefs and the coffee's fine. The people in charge of the port have bricks in their head.
Everything could always be better, but that's a good thing to think. Sometimes, though, the response to progress in this city is just weird.
Under the heading "Why everyone is laughing at Auckland", businessman Grant Kirby launched into the topic in these pages this week. Although he didn't say so, Kirby was until very recently a director of Britomart Group, the company that owns and operates one of New Zealand's most successful examples of urban design, destination retailing and smart hospitality: the Britomart precinct.
So what's he complaining about? Essentially, Kirby thinks there's too much disruptive construction work going on, there's no proper plan for growth because there isn't enough urban sprawl, the council wastes money on things he doesn't want (cycleways and traffic-calming measures) and public transport is failing.
Easy to say. Often said, in fact. The argument boils down to: we should all be able to keep driving, everywhere and always, while public spending remains solidly focused on roads.
Everything's "driven by ideology", Kirby says, twice. We've lost the values of public service and we need a "fresh approach".
Let's just note that when people complain about "ideology", what they invariably mean is that their own ideology has fallen from favour.
As for suggesting Auckland doesn't have a plan or a "fresh approach", what? The Auckland Plan and the Unitary Plan provide a blueprint for a very fresh approach to city building.
That's one reason it's all so hard: after 10 years of the supercity and less than five years of the Unitary Plan, we're still working out what the new approach will mean. There are changes to how we use our streets, how dense suburban buildings can be, how town centres develop, the place of cars, the importance of public and active transport and how we open up the waterfront.
It's odd how Kirby's complaints don't reflect his own experience at Britomart, which was entirely enabled by an accommodating city council.
Britomart's success is based on the welcome public spaces it has created for people, not vehicles, in the inner city. It's a public transport hub with a green park in its centre that manages to be both busy and relaxing. If you drive there, you park outside the precinct.
The council's plans for the rest of downtown Auckland, in essence, are an attempt to replicate the values of the Britomart precinct, but without assuming you need luxury shops to do it and without having access to the wealth of Britomart's owner.
In other words, the aim is to democratise the things that make a modern urban centre appealing, so everyone can enjoy them. What a good thing. They could do it better, of course they could. But what nonsense to suggest they're trying to do the wrong thing.
We're going to see some of the fruits of this very soon, with the opening of the new plaza joining Quay St to the water's edge.
Another reason it's hard? We've had years of doing too little. Years of civic authorities and central government that thought infrastructure spending was too difficult, too expensive and too easy to forget about so it would become someone else's problem.
Now they're trying to fix that. In a climate crisis. They don't always get everything right and we will never all agree on what's right anyway. But it's happening.
Which leads to a third reason this is all so hard. We're not good at civic debate. People panic: about cyclists, these past few weeks, and often about road cones.
If you look at this city from a distance you see construction cranes. Up close, it's the cones. The truth is, those things are the markers of a city that's worth living in: they point to better transport, better urban design, better buildings. Economically and environmentally, we'd be facing a catastrophe if they weren't there.
And the rest of the country, whether or not they're "laughing" at us, would be facing it too.