Preparing for a new NZ - let's channel Sir Ed

by Peter Newport - Mar 27, 2020


New Zealand has got its mojo back – through the most unlikely of circumstances – Covid-19.

For the past few decades we have slowly seen our national energy get diverted into a world where compliance, consultants and corporate culture have become the dominant influences.

True leadership was delegated, bets were hedged. Backsides were covered.

Consultants - reassuringly expensive - but could they climb Everest?

It looked as if New Zealand was to conquer Everest again, we would do it with a business case, a master plan and a suit-and-tie team from a major firm of Big Four consultants – and probably forget the oxygen and the crampons. Sir Edmund Hillary would not qualify – he would not have the “correct” credentials or experience.

Now all bets are off. Our gutsy PM is showing all of the energy and innovation that Sir Ed would have needed back in 1953 when he scaled the world’s highest mountain. Except he did it without having to bring up a toddler and manage Shane Jones.

It does not matter if Jacinda Ardern belongs to a red, blue or green party. She advocates community kindness and says she will be our Enforcer. Excellent.

She stands shoulder to shoulder with our Police Commissioner, our Government Department heads and our medical experts and they all clearly respect her – and value her leadership. It is a wonderful thing to behold. Everyone in Government is doing their jobs – doing their jobs well and doing them with good levels of transparency.

If we get this right, which we probably will, our Government and our PM will be the envy of the world. Even more so than before.

Jacinda Ardern - doing her job, and then some.

But what then? Will we decide our future by employing more consultants to write a Master Plan for our future? Or have the guts to decide for ourselves, in partnership with our very real PM. Go back to the Edmund Hillary values that used to define New Zealand in the eyes of the world.

NY Governor - Andrew Cuomo. "Emotion is a luxury we can't afford."

Just a few hours ago the Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo held a passionate but logical media conference calling on the Trump administration to “Do their job.”

“Emotion is a luxury, a luxury we can’t afford right now” Cuomo told media. “It’s not a time for excuses, politics, finger pointing, but we need everyone to do their job.”

Cuomo is becoming important as New York is the current global epicentre of Covid-19. They need another 30,000 ventilators to reduce the current, soaring death toll and are setting up 4,000 bed hospitals in empty convention centres.

In the Southern Lakes and Cromwell we don’t have any convention centres – empty or not. We have a 15-bed hospital with no Intensive Care Unit or High Dependency Unit. We have one modern ventilator and one older model as a backup.

One of the reasons our PM may have dug deep (again) is that our hospital system just would not have coped, nationally or locally, with even the early stages of a serious Covid-19 outbreak.

That’s not blame or finger pointing. We are a tiny nation with 5 million people and an economy based largely on external markets such as tourism and dairy products.

The dairy markets might come back, but the tourism market probably won’t. That’s due to climate change concerns, reduced personal wealth post Covid-19, an airline industry that may not recover and, in short, a Whole New World.

Our tourism giants are offloading their staff by the thousand with little sign of past billions being re-invested in the future.

So, let’s channel the Sir Edmund Hillary that’s within all of us. A new future free of the bullshit and the baggage that’s built up over the years.

We’ve got a great Prime Minister who is extracting superb performance from her Government and Public Service teams. The best thing we can do is follow her example.

Dig deep and become the proud bosses of our own local and national future. We can all climb our own personal Everest.



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