A family member came home shocked, as he was shouted at by a woman when out in the community. He was shouted at for not being in the right place.
A friend was challenged and harangued as she walked her dog on a leash across a park. The challengers believed it was their responsibility to decide where people could walk.
There have been many other instances this year of Kiwis apparently not doing what they were supposed to do and in no uncertain terms being told off.
In March 2020, COVID-19, a highly contagious virus, was spreading across many countries and beginning to impact New Zealand. Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister with a very serious face, told us all to go home. It was traumatising hearing from her that tens of thousands of our fellow Kiwis were at risk of catching and even dying from COVID-19 if we broke the rules.
Other than a few designated essential workers, we were not allowed off our own properties, except for a short daily walk to get a little exercise. The orders were explicit, direct and were to be obeyed. New Zealanders had to do as they were told, but it seemed many did not stay at home. Jacinda Ardern heard about this and told us to report on anyone we saw breaking her rules.
A designated police phone number was set up and, with the PM’s urging, people were happy to report on their neighbours. If one extra person was thought to have joined an existing couple or ‘bubble’, as it was known, it was to be reported, as this was considered a serious breach. The police would check it out by simply turning up at the front door and going through the house without a warrant. New Zealanders were told they would be charged and fined, and even imprisoned if they didn’t comply. Thousands rang the new hotline to report on their neighbours.
Spying on others began in earnest and curtain-twitching in many houses was rife. Narking became the order of the day. The new hotline was so overloaded that it crashed. Narking was the new normal.
It had never happened before in this beautiful country. New Zealanders are known worldwide to be laid back, friendly and accepting of others, but it was no longer acceptable to bend the rules even a little, let alone break the rules. Kiwis were told to dob each other in, and politicians like Green MP Golriz Ghahraman led the way.
Jacinda Ardern continued to give daily updates about COVID-19 as New Zealanders were to ‘Unite Against’ this awful virus. We were instructed that Jacinda, along with Ashley Bloomfield, the Director-General of Health, would be our only source of truth about this virus. It was not advisable to listen to any other instructions or gain any other information from anywhere else, as it could be incorrect. The country stopped each afternoon to switch on the TV to hear about the virus and what the Prime Minister’s next rules were.
The personal decision for New Zealanders was whether it was their duty to tell someone off or not? Or whether it was their civic duty to go the next step and be a nark? It was agreed that it was right to nark when an official blatantly disobeyed. For instance, David Clark, the Health Minister, broke the rules by going out in the car and on his mountain bike many kilometres from his home. Someone took a picture of his vehicle and reported him, but strangely he remained in his job for months.
A number of roadblocks were set up by local people, and even though that was against the law and reported to the Hotline, no charges were laid and the roadblocks remained.
Now we are in July 2020.
Jacinda Ardern promised hard control at the border but Kiwis were shocked to find out that, in reality, our borders were soft. Hundreds of people had absconded early from self-isolation and/or managed quarantine without a test. These recent escapees are still out there, and people are hiding them. We are told that these absconders must be narked on, so they can be tested. The Prime Minister and Ashley Bloomfield have also told us that they have no idea who they are or where they are.
In contrast, a young family with little children playing on the sands of a South Island beach, away from others, putting no one at any risk (after being restricted at home for weeks), were dobbed in. They looked so guilty as the police told them they should not be there and to go home.
It is appalling that New Zealanders were ordered to be a country of narks. It is a new low for our country.
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