I’ve riffed on John Clarke Fred Dagg’s (John Clarke) song “We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are” before. It’s a great song and shamelessly parades all of the things that Kiwis prize about ourselves and our country, while also satirising the Muldoon era of the 1970s. Although it is over 40 years old, I find myself whistling the tune every now and again and it always makes me smile – no more so than in the past six weeks when the world as we knew it has been turned upside down.
When the prime minister Jacinda Ardern, broadcast to Kiwis in March that we would lockdown to try and eliminate Covid-19, I found myself occasionally anxious about all of the ramifications. How would we a ll cope? What would happen? Would thousands of New Zealanders die? Would our country be changed forever? After five weeks under the severest lockdown in our history, I am mightily surprised at how splendid Kiwis have been. How accepting and determined and so united in a way I have never witnessed in my lifetime.
And while nowhere near thousands have died, that is down to solid, compassionate leadership, fantastic communication, rugged determination and frankly amazing dedication and effort from our health professionals and essential services.
New Zealand has definitely changed and I know that we are all hoping that the many things we have learned in the past five weeks, stay with us through some challenging months ahead.
And lessons really is the point. We have spoken to many people in business, as well as consumers and the overwhelming message we get is making the most of it and learning what is truly of most value in our lives.
A few days ago I was talking to a painter who told me he struggled in the first few days – feeling a little lost and confused but since then he hasn’t looked back. Five weeks in lockdown was the longest holiday he had had in over 30 years. He had turned all of his attention to his house. – fully renovated two bedrooms and a kitchen and had got lost in the small joys of being able to relax and take an hour for lunch. His tory was one of so many I heard along the same theme.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that this is also a generalisation. There are many, many New Zealanders who have struggled the past five weeks. Loss of security, diminished income, being apart from friends and family – a lot of people alone. Yet, even in that Kiwis have joined together, created amazing initiatives – to deliver food to the elderly, to ensure that people who may be living alone, know that they are surrounded by people who care.
So when I say ‘we sure know how lucky we are’. I mean we have acted and behaved the way we have during Lockdown because we appreciate how unique our situation is while the Covid-19 epidemic claims the lives of many tens of thousands in other countries. We have not only accepted, we have thrived. Who would have thought it?