Kiwis on Verge of Victory

Updated: May 2, 2020

Jacinda Ardern hailed 'the most effective leader on the planet' for her handling of the crisis.

The rules in New Zealand were stated loudly, clearly and frequently: no socialising with anyone outside your household; no hiking; no children’s playgrounds; no haircuts; no beach swimming or boating; no holidays; no wedding or funerals; no bar or restaurant visits; no take-away deliveries.

After 5 weeks of tough lockdown conditions, the country now appears to be on the verge of victory, with health officials declaring that infection rates have fallen low enough to hope that the island nation had achieved effective elimination of the disease, and the Prime Minister lifted some - but not all - of the restrictions.

From today, Kiwis can go to garden centres, socialise with some family members living outside their household, visit fast-food outlets, and nip out to Starbucks to buy takeaway coffee.

Swimming at local beaches is allowed once more and construction workers can get back on site, but only if they can work apart from colleagues. Most importantly, families may now hold funerals to bury their loved ones - provided they are attended by no more than 10 people.

Jacinda Ardern is generously recognised as the most effective premier during this ghastly pandemic, but she does have in-built advantages (such as a well developed health service and reasonably well spread out population of just five million) and, courtesy of her leadership during the 2019 terrorist attack in Christchurch and the volcanic eruption at White Island - she also has the confidence of the public.

If you scan the globe, it's very interesting to observe that female leaders have been more successful in this crisis than their male counterparts. Plenty of countries with male leaders have also done well. But few with female leaders have done badly.