Rachel Fieldhouse

Travel Trouble

“Hermit nation”: New Zealand slammed by overseas pundits

“Hermit nation”: New Zealand slammed by overseas pundits

After New Zealand returned to lockdown over one case infected with the Delta COVID-19 strain, international critics quickly called out the country’s cautious strategy.

British newspaper The Times labelled New Zealand as a “mysterious socialist hermit nation” where the inhabitants “languish in a COVID prison”, while The Telegraph described the country as a “isolated dystopia”.

Despite the criticisms, a recent poll by public polling company Stickybeak found that 84 percent of those surveyed supported the decision to enter lockdown.

Though the country’s reliance on harsh lockdowns has meant many New Zealanders overseas have been unable to return and those in-country can’t see overseas family members, many agree with the focus on eliminating COVID.

Charlotte Guigou, a 28-year-old teacher in Wellington is one of the supporters, despite it meaning she can’t see her family in France. 

“This lockdown was really tough, but before that we were just living life like normal, and it was all good, it was really chill,” she said.

“It does seem like the pain of not having borders open, for what we get in return, for the lifestyle we get in return, is still worth it.”

Prior to the most recent lockdown, New Zealanders have been enjoying sports games, music festivals, and outdoor gatherings as per normal, with only 3000 cases and 26 deaths recorded so far.

Anna Robinson, who has recently returned to New Zealand after spending most of the pandemic in Europe, has also missed out on special family moments due to lockdown.

But, she thinks it is a price worth paying to protect people who are vulnerable or have underlying health conditions.

“Lockdown feels like a very small price to pay for the amount of freedom and safety for the community that will come after,” she said.

Just ten days after the country went into lockdown, the outbreak had spread to 347 cases, with one person in intensive care as of Friday.

Image: Getty Images