On Monday, 11th of May, cabinet will meet to decide whether New Zealand eases lock down restrictions and moves down to Level 2, in 48 hours. In all probability, the low number of new daily cases that we have seen in the past few weeks, as well as the overwhelmingly positive response to Covid-19, will mean we can move to something closer to the normality of a little over six weeks ago.
With restrictions on social distancing and limits on numbers gathering, as well as rigorous logging of visitors to restaurants, cafes and bars, Level 2 will open up our social spheres and mean more Kiwi businesses can open their doors again.
But with that said, what will we be when we enter into something closer to normal, because the ‘normal we once knew, has very likely disappeared. Like most Kiwis I have been surprised and heartened by the last six weeks and what I have learned about myself, the people around me, and the country as a whole. I have very high hopes that we will take this once in a lifetime opportunity to calibrate the way we live and the manner in which our economy functions. The occasional pessimist in mr thinks it may all peel back to how it once was, but this global shift in perspective and reality is fart too important to ignore.
What have we learned? Firstly, the realisation that despite our small differrences, we are really all the same. Here, and around the world. We cherihs, we love, we crave the company of others, and we are kind.
But as a country I think we need to look inward, as the lockdown has conditioned us to. To analyse how we can utilise the land, our talents and our determination to get things done. For too long we have binged – as consumers of all things, and lost our ability to live every day with a sense of what life may be about. We don’t need to keep consuming cheaply made items that have short shelf lives. We don’t need to get lost in another world without seeing the one that could be.
When I was a kid, so many things were made in New Zealand, for the domestic market. Yes, they were ‘expensive’ but they were well made and lasted for many years. Fridges and TVs would stay in our house, working and being repaired until they were replaced in ten, or so, years time. Why can’t we truly create a manufacturing reality in New Zealand that gives us what we need, not what we want? Imagine making and consuming products that would last, rather than buying a similar item every 2-3 years.
Our tourist industry was a huge contributor to our GDP and for now, it is unlikely that the overseas visitors that fuelled it will back anytime soon and overseas travel New Zealanders is also off the cards. In the 1980s, the Tourist and Publicity Department ran a media campaign promoting New Zealand tourism to New Zealanders. The “Don’t Leave Town Till You’ve Seen the Country” ads encouraged Kiwis to see more of oNew Zealand before heading overseas. They played on our ignorance of parts, as yet unvisited and the notion that those overseas knew more about our geography and sites of significance.
When domestic travel is opened up, I do hope we can follow suit and educate ourselves further about this nation and other Kiwis, while keeping Kiwi tourism and hospitality afloat. Wouldn’t that be something?