When It Comes to Covid, the “Little People” Cast a Big Shadow.


JACINDA ARDERN KNOWS what she’s doing. Never mind all the “Ardern is faltering” wishful thinking on display from the Right. Ignore all the carping of the journalists, commentators, posters and tweeters. New Zealand is still, overwhelmingly, with the Prime Minister.

Would she be pushing back so hard against the claims of the KFC worker if she didn’t know that a very large chunk of the country wasn’t saying: “Give her a smack from me while you’re at it, Jacinda!”?

You only have to register the change in the Prime Minister’s tone between Saturday night and Monday afternoon. In the course of just 72 hours it was made very clear to Jacinda that “kindness” just wasn’t going to cut it anymore. Kiwis were pissed-off – really pissed-off – and they expected the country’s leader to acknowledge and endorse their rage.

Jacinda received their message loud and clear. At her post-Cabinet media conference on Monday, the Prime Minister demonstrated conclusively that she could be cruel as well as kind. Those revealed to have breached the self-isolation protocols felt the full force of Jacinda’s displeasure – and the nation lapped it up.

Not the journalists in the Press Gallery, of course, and certainly not the keyboard warriors on Twitter and Facebook. They knew too much about the messaging shemozzle that had caused the young KFC worker to believe that she was allowed to go to work. Clearly, there had been a major communications failure between the Ministry of Health’s frontline staff and decision-makers all the way up the chain-of-command. Prime Ministers are only as well-informed as the advice they receive, and, in the case of the KFC worker, at least, the advice she received was bad.

Not that it matters. What they’d heard from them during the first Lockdown left most New Zealanders with a very sour opinion of journalists. Or, should that be – an opinion even sourer than usual? As for Twitter: well, the opinions and judgements available on Twitter matter tremendously to the people who tweet them, and the atypical New Zealanders who read them. Neither of these groups is very large, however: certainly not large enough to make the Government to do something it has already set its face against. That the journos and the Twitterati all knew there had been a serious communications balls-up didn’t really count.

Why? because New Zealanders weren’t remotely interested in the minutiae of who said what to whom and when. What they were saying to themselves was something along the lines of:

“ Jesus! What rock was this girl living under that she didn’t know Covid was loose in her community; and that, because Covid was loose in her community; she should stay the fuck at home? All her friends at Papatoetoe High School were being tested and told to self-isolate. It was all over the news. How could she not get it?”

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And when it came to the guy who got tested and then went to the gym? Well, you can just hear Middle New Zealand’s explosion of rage, can’t you?

“For fuck’s sake! Who the hell could be that bloody selfish? Surely there’s got to be some sort of punishment for rule-breaking on this sort of scale? Come on Jacinda – you can’t be kind to pricks like that!”

These are the messages that Jacinda was giving heed to – not the whining of the Twitterati. The huge surge of outrage that followed the public’s discovery of the reasons why they were being ordered back into Covid-19 Alert Levels 2 and 3 was not something any sensible politician could ignore – and Jacinda didn’t.

There will, of course, be many (but not that many) who will seize upon the circumstances surrounding the latest Lockdown and spin them into a cloak of shame for the Prime Minister and her government. They will do this because they simply cannot believe that anybody is any longer “fooled” by Queen Jacinda the Kind; because they fail completely to comprehend that people who think like them represent an insignificant minority of the population; because they just can’t fathom why their advice on how to handle the Covid-19 Pandemic has been routinely ignored for so long.

For nearly 40 years these characters have grown accustomed to the opinions and interests of the majority being treated with something pretty close to contempt. Little people were expected to do as they were told, and to accept that the big people telling them would always know much better than they ever could what was good for them. These elitists found it hard enough to endure the nearly-nine-year reign of John Key – who displayed an altogether unhealthy regard for public opinion. Under Jacinda, however, everything has gone from bad to worse. She actually seems to care – really care – what little people think. It’s simply outrageous!

What they want is for New Zealanders to “learn to live with the virus”. In their view, all this “yo-yoing” in and out of Lockdown is wrecking the economy. Pursuing an “elimination strategy” is, therefore, simply unsustainable in the long term. The country just has to harden-up and wait for the steady roll-out of the vaccine to deliver the “herd immunity” required to set the world free. As far as they’re concerned, all this is self-evident. The Government must see it – and  act accordingly.

Except that what the “little people” want looks nothing like the “big people’s” preferred strategy. Far from believing that things should be loosened-up, most New Zealanders favour an across-the-board tightening of the whole anti-Covid apparatus. The Elimination Strategy, so derided by the elites, has served them, and their country, amazingly well. Just how well is made clear to them every time they hear, see, or read about what’s happening in the USA, the UK, and just about everywhere else on the planet. What they want is to be kept safe: to see the borders made so tight that the “tricky” Covid virus is permanently kept at bay. Yes, they feel sorry for the tourism and hospitality industries, but not sorry enough to risk the virus running amok because Jacinda and her government stopped listening to “us” and started paying heed to “them”.

Most of all they want the Team of Five Million to stay solid: to play by the rules; and to make sure that those who flout the rules pay dearly for their lack of solidarity. While kindness can be shown to work, they’ll be kind. But, the moment kindness stops working, the world will be amazed at how cruel ordinary New Zealanders can be. And how cruel Jacinda can be – in their name.


  1. For me, watching the performers in the one-trick circus on the deck of the Titanic has become both tiresome and amusing; tiresome because there is a long list of crucial matters NOT being addressed by Jacinda and the other clowns and criminals that constitute the government; amusing because the unravelling that is already taking place exposes the fabrications and lies the government (like previous governments) has been using to remain in power, and thereby ensures Jacinda and company will end up with more than just egg on their faces.

    As this travesty of governance plays out, I am certainly not impressed by Jacinda’s attempt to foist her failings and the failings of the system onto victims of the system. But that’s what politics is all about, isn’t it? Avoidance of responsibility, and looking for someone/something to blame.

    Lest anyone take my comments as being support for any of the other parties, it is not; they are full of similar (or worse) clowns and criminals.

    Like CHS, I am staggered that the ‘casino is still operating, and wonder When Does This Travesty of a Mockery of a Sham Finally Implode?

    ‘The mutually reinforcing crises aren’t in the future, they’re here now…’


  2. Don’t blame all of NZ for media’s beat up of Covid spreading in the community.

    Since media in NZ don’t normally bother to employ real journalists anymore they have to continually re-run pointless articles that are recycled again and again….. media in NZ is a bit like Sky TV programming or Chorus landlines….not long for this world, you can only provide a bad service for so long before people turn off….

    First media hate Jacinda, then it is ST Jacinda, then the media will turn on her again – why, because they need to generate content at minimum costs under the Rogernomics models….

    Any politician who gets their cue’s from NZ media will find on Election Day, they are completely out of touch!

  3. And NO comments in the media or from ‘Government’ about Franks piece on whether Air NZ is the ‘source’ of these ‘unknown’ Covid cases.
    How convenient. Plead ignorance by NOT looking at all ‘reasonable sources’.

  4. Here in Taumarunui some hapless youth ran over a few newly planted rhododendrons. The community went wild with angst and anger, calling it a “rhododendron tragedy” and venting vehemently, calling that person ‘scum’ etc. so yes, nzild public like a good flogging horse, preferably young and not powerful or not having powerful parents anyway. On the other hand, celebrities, luminaries and rich people seem to be able to come and go as they want, no questions. Meanwhile homeless people, people living in cars, tents and shacks are at the mercy of travelling bible bashers and other impromptu tourists who have escaped lockdown and I don’t see Jacinda pursing her lips over that situation.

    • On point there Jane. Life has become so fractured for many and the demands placed on young people just to come up with something as simple as the money to pay for some sort of roof over your head, never mind food to eat, at such a ridiculous level, that it is little wonder that some are unable to see a bigger picture. Those with the time and energy to direct their “cruelty” as Chris puts it, at these young people may need to experience this type of pressure to understand it.

  5. Covid will never be ‘eliminated’, it is carried in the genetic variations of those in the community who have had it and those who are about to receive it in the form of a vaccine

  6. As usual the business people are thinking about themselves and in there defence they will say they bring money and jobs and boast our economy and they do but what about the downside. The cheap labour and foreigners coming in by the droves, many with whanau members intact also has a negative impact on our country and many people. I see some in the business sector now want the government COVID strategy so they can help get the borders open good luck to them.

  7. As usual the business people are thinking about themselves and in there defence they will say they bring money and jobs and boast our economy and they do but what about the downside. The cheap labour and foreigners coming in by the droves, many with whanau members intact also has a negative impact on our country and many people. I see some in the business sector now want the government COVID strategy so they can help get the borders open good luck to them.

  8. For me the pertinent detail was Seymour and Collins leading it all with their – “why are they not being punished” line. Then when the PM says the herd expects better of some individuals, they then switch to new talkiing points – Collins says the PM should apologise to the KFC worker (ffs earlier she wanted this person arrested) and Seymour says the PM is unequal relationship with the worker and by not apologising to her was abusing her power.

    I’m fairly sure someone like David Lange would have made some observations about the absurdity of their public utterances. Such politicians were and are the reason for satire.

  9. When it comes to COVID, it was always the “cruel” Jacinda that appealed to me.

    When she closed the borders to people from China back in February 2020, the universities thought it was cruel, and racist. Businesses thought it was cruel that they couldn’t operate at level 4, others complained at level 3, hospitality, wedding planners and churches still felt the cruelty at level 2.

    Ardern’s cruelty was again on display when she forced arrivals into, often free, MIQ. The “shocking” food, the lack of yoga classes, the horror. Having relented a little by making exceptions for those visiting for bereavement reasons, the cruelty was turned back up when Chris Bishop’s mates got “lost”.

    Behind a cruel closed border, tourism struggles and is still unable to have a bubble formed with Australia and Asia. The pain remains for the fruit and vegetable growers, deprived of backpackers and specialist courgette gatherers from Thailand. We did get some Russian and Ukrainian fishing crew, and the COVID they brought with them.

    Migrant students missing their families back home thought is was cruel when authorities did not agree that the only solution was to grant those families passage into NZ. The cruelty has been turned to migrant workers who want COVID to make it easier for them to attain residency. No luck, so far.

    Even the National Party was not spared. Having suggested that the election should be held in November, or preferably 2021, it was cruelly announced that it would proceed in October. Not enough time for members to figure out their own party list ranking let alone campaign for an election.

    Only a drop in the bucket for all the cruel things Ardern has done over the past twelve or so months. I think I can handle a little more.

  10. “JACINDA ARDERN KNOWS what she’s doing”.
    That’s probably the saddest part of it all. It’d be QI [that’s an acronym for ‘quite interesting’ ] to know what really drives this intelligent, basically compassionate and kind specimen who’s more than a little comfortable to ride the waves rather than do anything meaningful and transformational (in this space, going forward), AND “on the back of” all that’s been thrown at her over the past 4 years.
    (“Ultimately”), I guess we’ll only ever know after she’s long gone and writes her memoirs, or when Clarke gets the 7 year itch (plus or minus a year or two), and it all plays out on some Julie Christie produced Reality TV show – or maybe even Amanpour

  11. Chris you’re so right. The Natz, Act and right wing media are pissed off that there hasn’t been a massive community outbreak. They and their supporters on talkback radio hate Jacinda and Labour and are beating up any little issue they can fine. Journalist must be uneducated because they waste question time on trivial loser questions while we the public want to listen to Bloomfield provide some facts about the corona virus and the vaccines. Same with TV news, they highlight boring news trying to create a scandal but its getting pretty boring. I perused some comments from September/October 2020 on a right wing blog site and what foolish conspiracies were expressed. Those who provided their names will feel like fools and idiots now.
    Never mind its a free world, free speech and one can make their own minds up – Ill keep listening to Jacinda and Ashley on the covid situation. I hope we get back to normality soon and see employment and the economy booming.

    • People will hate Ardern and the government just out of pure spite. Insults and personal abuse aside, I have not seen an argument anywhere to say Ardern is responsible for having destroyed our country.

      • bert
        Yes, yes…. of course she’s ultimately responsible for the 100s of billions of extra debt the kiddies she claims to love will be required to pay off. I’ve just posted to that effect: lockdowns were her’s (and perhaps Ash’s) decision and her’s alone. Who else could be responsible? Beats me. I’d welcome a response that argues compellingly to the contrary.

        There was no necessity whatsoever to go into any form of lockdown, no matter how often this claim is asserted without evidence. It was simply the worst possible choice out of a numerous alternatives. It is impossible to know the outcome in the alternative case of having no lockdowns, as we would need the empirical evidence only derivable from a control population. Ya know, aka via the scientific method. Modelling is modelling, it is not science.

        Fully informed and therefore rational decision-making by sovereign individuals just could not be countenanced, I suppose – this isn’t the 20th century anymore, you see. Why make personal decisions when someone else can think on your behalf?

    • ‘I hope we get back to normality soon and see employment and the economy booming.’

      You can hope as much as you like with respect to ‘the economy booming’, it ain’t gonna happen. The energy and resources required for a ‘booming economy’ do not exist; they were consumed in the decades-long orgy of consumption that followed WW2. We’re ‘running on empty’ now.

      And all the evidence indicates the Ponzi financial system will implode long before industrial humans gain control over the coronavirus pandemic.

      As for ‘returning to ‘normality’, well that is underway in so far as we are well along the path to having no fossil fuels to power the system. Not using fossil fuels in normality. Using them was a short-term aberration that is rapidly coming to an end.


      Kunstler and Jensen discussed whether we are headed for medieval living arrangements or stone age arrangements.


      They agree to discuss the matter further once we have got to the medieval point.

  12. What surprises me is that the supervisor/manager at KFC & K Mart had no knowledge about their staff circumstances, I would have thought they should be the first to know any potential breach of health standards regarding Covid because of the obvious economic implications. The less charitable implication is that the operators of those businesses were more interested in making a dollar than any health risk.

  13. Can we all just keep one crucial fact at the front of our minds? Going into severe lockdowns (now, or initially last year, and accompanied by all of the massively social, economic,, human rights and psychological negative consequences flowing from this blunt authoritarian strategy) are a direct result of one thing: Jacinda Ardern’s decision making. Period. South Aucklanders’ actions may correlate with Auckland being in L3 and the rest of us (why, I cannot say) being in L2. This is a pretext for government overreach. The relevant and operative causation, however, is the Labour government’s decision-making, and that alone.

    Those who act as if these totally over-the-top lockdown responses are a fundamental law of physics (or even of the laws of virology, such as they are), a measure that is necessary and sufficient whenever a case of Covid arises, on a flimsy emotive pretext of “keeping us safe” (pass the vomit bag, please) are deluding themselves. Even the official statistics show plainly, to anyone with any critical thought capacity, that this is an illness which, if we even contract it, 99% of us will survive totally intact. Run the numbers yourself if you doubt me. Many infected persons don’t even know they have it, ffs.

    • C&P from the WHO: “Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness”.

      I presume the WHO site is “trustworthy” – although it does of course take a particular position.

      On the first part you do have a point AF-H but an over reliance on emotive language in your post betrays a wider misunderstanding. Yes, we could be like Brazil and let the virus take its natural course – and take the consequences of a good many Covid-related deaths (not as many of course as the 1000 per day in Brazil but proportionally so given the population of AO/NZ is only 5 million or so). Picking on Brazil is like picking low hanging fruit – but take any place where the Covid 19 virus is wide spread and its much the same. Lost of people catch the virus and a proportion die from it or from the complications brought about from having it, or it just fucks up their already ill-health. So granted, not fit and healthy people as a rule. I presume you are fit and healthy and probably young.

      But is not only about serious illness from Covid 19 or morbidity. The public health response around elimination in A0/NZ is equally about the health system being able to function as normal. With resources tied up with dealing with a national Covid pandemic little is left for day-to-day health functions, especially elective and acute surgery. Think of people with cancer or little kids who need a life saving operation. Pandemics are disruptive in this way. Little else gets done. What I would say to you (hypothetically of course) is if you would rather be in Brazil (or take you pick) then consider going there.

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