Ever wondered why New Zealand decided to “go hard and go early” against Covid-19? How did the government decide on its pandemic response? What were the options? How did key players feel at crucial moments?
The answers are documented in an extraordinary play, Transmission. The script was constructed verbatim from interviews with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, and epidemiologist Michael Baker over the first year of the pandemic. These three, under hideous pressure, spoke every week with Miranda Harcourt and Stuart McKenzie. Sure, Harcourt and McKenzie are a distinguished team with sky-high credibility and talent. But can you imagine any other head of state speaking to a couple of playwright-directors personally and honestly in such circumstances?
New Zealand could easily have responded like the rest of the world. Globally, the policy norm was to to wait (and wait and wait and wait) and see. To respond with mild restrictions and raise them step by step as the pandemic spread. Which does not work, cannot possibly work when transmission is exponential.
If you’re quick you can see the inside story of the New Zealand pandemic response online. Last chance 26 May 2021. I saw the live performance and I learned so much.