The letters in these columns continue on rights and freedoms of New Zealanders during the Covid pandemic. Interesting that some against Covid vaccination are concerned that vaccination is compulsory. It's not, never has been throughout NZ history.
During NZ's 1913 smallpox epidemic (and a vaccine was available), some resisted being vaccinated. Later, 1950s, when the Salk vaccine combated polio (a recurring scourge from 1900-1950s), again some resisted taking the vaccine. Nobody was prosecuted for refusing vaccination.
This information is freely available in NZ's archives.
In many historical polio outbreaks, mass gatherings were banned, libraries and schools closed for months on end. Sound familiar?
The evidence is enormous, that for both polio and Covid, the vaccines were and are phenomenally effective. With vaccines available, both polio and Covid were and are diseases of the unvaccinated.
So if we freely choose our right to not vaccinate, what are we freely doing to ourselves? Our families? Our ability to provide for them? How smart is our choice?
About the Bill of Rights? Before that, we had Common Law, which, historically, was equally morally encouraging (not compulsory) for vaccinations, and legally binding (for quarantines).
And by the way, about quarantine - this is also how tuberculosis was fought for decades. Senior citizens might remember tuberculosis hospitals, with warning notices against visiting at the entrances.
This is a brief history of how New Zealand has fought epidemics and pandemics for all time. For centuries, the world has known how to fight diseases and win, always by quarantine and also by vaccines when available.
Let's fight Covid. For truly, we all knew how to beat it long before it came along.
Let's find common ground
Clearly, we are going through a tough time. As a city we're dealing with the recent news of the Government mandating the Three Waters reforms and forcing us to hand over our assets to the care of a yet-to-be-formed "water entity". We also found out that the NZ government was mandating vaccinations across different sectors that will see some people leaving their much-loved mahi (work).
Whanganui is well known for its resilience and its grit when going through challenging times.
As a rohe, we band together to support and, when needed, we leverage the strength of our awa (river) and the mana of our maunga (mountain) with maintaining the mana of those around us to stand strong and against negative influences.
Sadly, whilst the Prime Minister was here, I witnessed something quite different. I saw people surrounding the Whanganui District Council building, covering every exit to ensure that Jacinda Ardern could see the hurt and pain from a select few of Whanganui constituents, waiting to yell at her.
It is completely okay to be frustrated, sad, angry and disappointed, but what is not okay is to hurl abuse, be disrespectful and diminish someone's mana because you do not agree with their politics. Yes, we are all affected by these decisions – but we could have actioned today in another way.
Being silent is not an option – but neither is being abusive and disrespectful. We should be able to disagree politically without being disagreeable. We are better than that. We can do better than that. Let's be strategic and find common ground. Come up with solutions - and let's go to the table, together.