In her last speech as New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern was asked what she would like to be remembered for.
She responded with a single line: “As someone who has always tried to be kind.”
For more than two years, New Zealanders have been locked out of their own country as Ardern imposed some of the toughest Covid restrictions in the world.
Like many New Zealanders living abroad, I will not remember this time as a token of their kindness and empathy.
Jacinda Ardern choked back tears as she announced her resignation as New Zealand Prime Minister
I moved to Sydney with the understanding that I was always a three-hour flight from my family in Wellington, but like the vast majority of expats, I was unable to return home for more than two years.
That really hit me when my mother, a mental health nurse, was kicked downstairs by a patient and suffered a devastating concussion, and Ardern’s draconian border closures meant I couldn’t be there for her when she needed me most .
In a staggering violation of human rights, New Zealand citizens abroad had to apply for entry into their own country, with a small number of places only available through an online lottery system.
More than 50,000 Kiwis applied to be admitted each month, but only 5,000 were admitted.
In a staggering violation of human rights, New Zealand citizens abroad have had to apply for entry into their own country, writes Cameron Carpenter
And then, once you’ve won a spot, you’d have to pay another $3,100 to stay for 14 days in a government-run quarantine hotel where the army guarded the entrances to make sure nobody left.
Detainees were only allowed out of their room for one hour a day — usually for a walk in the hotel parking lot.
But these rules, which we were told were absolutely necessary to stop the spread of Covid and save lives, didn’t apply if you were rich or a sports star.
A loophole allowed the wealthy and the political elite to avoid hotel quarantine entirely, traveling to New Zealand on private jets and then self-isolating at home.
New Zealand national Paul Mullally has had to say a final goodbye to his dying mother via video link due to Jacinda Ardern’s draconian Covid rules
International sports stars have been able to skip the quarantine queue to play in New Zealand and the government has paid for their stays in managed isolation. They were also granted training exemptions that allowed them to leave the facilities.
But ordinary Kiwis have been locked out of the country, with untold stories of expatriate New Zealanders missing out on births, funerals, weddings and other events.
New Zealand national Paul Mullally had to give his dying mother a final farewell via video link because his request for the family’s return, made nine days earlier, was pending when she died.
Pregnant New Zealand journalist Charlotte Bellis, stranded in Afghanistan, was forced to turn to the Taliban for help after rules prevented her from returning to New Zealand to give birth.
Charlotte Bellis, 35, a New Zealand journalist who had worked in the Middle East, has struggled to return home to give birth due to Jacinda Ardern’s strict Covid rules
Only after her story sparked international outrage did New Zealand officials relent and offer her a place in quarantine.
She accepted that pregnancy in Afghanistan can be a death sentence due to the poor state of maternity care.
In the early stages of the pandemic, Ardern’s decision to restrict entry was accepted by most New Zealanders given the little we knew about Covid-19.
But Kiwis were still banned from entering the country until February 2022 — even though most of the nation was vaccinated and the Omicron variant had a much lower mortality rate.
This put New Zealand completely out of sync with the rest of the world, which was already learning to live with the virus.
For international tourists hoping to travel to New Zealand, the wait was even longer as Ardern refused to open the borders until October.
Ardern tried to justify the strict controls by saying: “Not everyone could come home if they wanted to, but neither could COVID come in if they wanted to.”
But despite their flimsy justifications, many Kiwis will forever associate their decision to prevent them from entering their own country with heartache.
At the end of her resignation speech, Ardern declared: “I hope I leave you believing that you can be kind. Sensitive but determined. Optimistic but focused.”
For New Zealanders like me, she leaves a lasting reminder of the cruelty of her pandemic policies.
And to add insult to injury, her surprise resignation because she “doesn’t have enough in the tank” leaves the country in limbo, with no apparent successor, with a flagging economy and inflation spiraling out of control.
What’s nice about that?
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11652001/Jacinda-Arderns-kindness-rings-hollow-thousands-Kiwis-locked-New-Zealand.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Jacinda Ardern’s ‘kindness’ rings hollow to thousands of Kiwis locked out of New Zealand