Glad to be in the team of 5 million

To all my fellow New Zealanders… congrats on reaching zero cases of COVID-19 in our country! I was personally over the moon when I found out the news, gosh, it wasn’t too long ago when we were all nervously staying indoors and not wanting to engage with the outside world.

We are pretty humble people, so it’s been even more humbling to see our country raised as a beacon of hope for other countries around the world. But don’t get us wrong, it wasn’t all plain sailing and the collective feelings of frustration and anxiety were felt many times. Thankfully we had a clear line of communication from our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield.

During times of heightened stress and anxiety, having clear, straight-forward messaging is so important. Jacinda led with tremendous empathy, showing that even the hard news could be shared in a caring and supportive way. Her ability to talk about all of us as her ‘team of 5 million people’ also made us committed to overcoming these challenges together. This was backed up by the clear wisdom from Ashley Bloomfield. From using Māori greetings at every update, to sharing information in a respectful manner, we developed trust in him and followed his advice. And yes, I ended up buying one of the limited edition “Curve Crusher” t-shirts!

I remember feeling resolute about the idea of getting COVID, knowing my chances of recovery would be better than people who are at risk. But what scared me was thinking about my nana in the rest home. Globally, whole rest homes were being decimated by COVID and the fear that this could happen in NZ felt very real. I am forever grateful that the collective actions of our country have thwarted such threats.

Jacinda says there is still lots more to be done and now we are in the phase of recovery. Even I still feel overwhelmed when I think of the massive task ahead, I carry a sense of hope in me that as Kiwis, we will continue to do what’s right for the people who inhabit these Shaky Isles. I am excited to do domestic travel over the coming months (I really want to do the Gisborne Rail Bike Adventure) and I want to buy more locally made products.

To my family and friends overseas, and to those who are in places where the threats of COVID (and other global issues including the #blacklivesmatter movements) remain scary, prolonged and challenging, I say this:

Know that we always have hope. Hope allows us to think and move forward in ways that we can’t always understand, and that’s perfectly okay. Draw strength from others, even if they are on the other side of the world. Know that people are thinking of you and have you in their hearts. Take time to pause, be kind to yourself, count your blessings, laugh, reflect and be patient. Things do get better.

During lockdown, I was deeply inspired by the work of Jason Naylor, an artist from Brooklyn New York. His prints and murals were so vibrant and simple and totally struck a chord with me. In a way they affirmed me about the idea of hope being at the centre of everything we do.


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