‘Stay home, stay safe, be kind’: How New Zealand crushed, not just flattened the COVID-19 curve (2021)


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By David Robie, book chapter in Racism and Politicization

In contrast to disastrous Western exceptionalist trends in Europe and the United States in countering the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, New Zealand was influenced by the success of Asian countries such as Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam. New Zealand was conscious of its strategic responsibility for vulnerable Pacific Island nations and launched a bold ‘go hard and go early’ offensive.

After an impressive two-month lockdown period that gave the country time to strengthen its public health defenses, health experts predicted a 97 percent chance of COVID-19 being eliminated. However, there was a relapse in August 2020 when a sudden cluster emerged in the country’s largest city which threatened New Zealand’s COVID-free status. This cluster in turn was contained and eliminated.

But the health issue dominated the economic recovery debate until the general election on October 17 when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s youngest and most popular political leader, won re-election with a landslide victory. The news media initially played a decisive support role in Ardern’s ‘kindness’ model in rallying a united nation, but later this fragmented.

David Robie
David Robiehttps://AsiaPacificReport.nz
Dr David Robie was previously founding director and professor of journalism at AUT’s Pacific Media Centre (PMC). He worked with postgraduate student journalists to edit Pacific Media Watch - a daily digital archive of dispatches about Pacific journalism and media, ethics and professionalism. The PMC also jointly published the high profile independent Pacific Scoop news website with industry partner, Scoop Media, and Asia Pacific Report, which David now edits independently in partnership with Evening Report: http://asiapacificreport.nz/ David is also the founding editor of Pacific Journalism Review (PJR).
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