There Are Lots of Things New Zealand Has and the World Still Pursues.
Lorde, Russel Crowe, Keith Urban and Sir Edmund Hilary all come from this island country in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean. They’re nearing 5 million inhabitants and for each person living in New Zealand, there are 9 sheep!
Home to Lord of the Rings and the first ever Elvish weather report, let’s see what else this exquisite country has got right!
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With this in place, let’s dig into the jaw-dropping things that the New Zealanders have and the world envies for.
Jacinda Ardern – the 40th Prime Minister of New Zealand
Aluxers, we’re starting off with the best – Jacinda Ardern, the kickass PM of New Zealand is trending for all the right reasons. She became the youngest Prime Minister that New Zealand has had in 150 years, when she stepped up to the mammoth task in 2017 at age 37.
She wears 2 hats, mum and PM and Kiwis couldn’t be prouder.
Her list of achievements in such a short space of time are commendable. We’ll highlight several of them throughout the article, but we’d need a few articles to expand on them all, so let’s begin with state housing.
Exponential Increase in State Houses
Just a few months into Jacinda Ardern’s new role, New Zealand’s state housing list saw a surge of 26%, which was the largest increase NZ had encountered in 4 years.
The Housing Quarterly Report and Housing Regional Fact sheets reported that there were 7890 households needing public housing and 1805 on the waiting list to be transferred from their existing public house.
In 2020, Ardern announced a $300m boost to assist the homeless in securing better accommodation. The plan included 1,000 additional places for the homeless, which would be delivered by the end of the year.
Ardern is quoted as saying, “The previous Government left us with a chronic shortage of houses and were selling off state houses that people desperately needed,” and now Ardern is working on fixing the current situation and putting preventative measures in place for the future.
Incredible Job Creation
Covid-19 has affected everyone around the world, but some countries have managed to ride the storm a little better than others. We’ll explain how New Zealand has managed to keep the virus under control shortly, and despite these trying times – New Zealand has solid plans in place to create jobs and minimize the blow of job loss.
The Wage Subsidy Scheme was introduced to keep as many people back at work as possible, which has so far paid out roughly $10.7 billion and sustained around 1.7 million jobs.
Currently, the unemployment rate is 4.2%, and there are several plans in place to create employment over the next few years. These include a $162m plan for cleaner waterways, creating 2,000 jobs in the process, $3 billion towards infrastructure jobs, and construction sector jobs – which will help create the housing we mentioned earlier.
While we’re on the subject of jobs, here are “15 Jobs That Can Make You a Millionaire“.
Very Little Unemployment
Job creation and unemployment go hand-in-hand, and it’s hard to separate the current job market from Covid-19. Compared to other countries, New Zealand has lost far fewer jobs and have good plans in place to weather the storm, as we’ve highlighted in our previous point.
Only 2,500 jobs were cut by the workforce during Covid and Ardern has said that the low joblessness shows New Zealand survived COVID-19 ‘better than anticipated.’ Economist Brad Olsen agreed when he said he was “quite surprised” at how low the unemployment figures were during this time.
At the Forefront of Cancer Treatment
Just a few months ago, $25 million was spent on 12 new radiation machines. These machines provide treatments specific to a patient’s needs and deliver external beam radiation treatment. These machines would ensure that cancer treatment was improved and that recovery times would be faster.
In Ardern’s words, “we know for some lung cancers, newer technology can reduce treatment times from as much as six weeks to as little as three days. It can also mean improved life expectancy when every day is precious.”
Aluxers, we all know someone who has been diagnosed with some form of cancer, or have it yourself – can you imagine the treatment changing from 6 weeks to just a few days? It sounds surreal.
The $25 million spent was just a tiny portion of the $1.7 billion that has been set aside for health services, which can only mean more great things to come.
Mental Health Is a Priority
Glenn Close once said, “what mental health needs is more sunlight, more candour, and more unashamed conversation.” And a truer word could not be said.
New Zealand, along with Jacinda Ardern, are at the forefront of mental health issues. They take it seriously and are unashamed to have the conversation.
Ardern has introduced the worlds first “wellbeing” budget which promises to invest billions in the care of the vulnerable. This wellbeing budget has been praised around the world and half a billion of that budget was set aside for the “missing middle,” those that suffer from mild to moderate anxiety and depression.
PM, Jacinda Ardern, confirmed that mental health issues for her, were “deeply personal,” and the fact that New Zealanders can see their GP or health centre for mental health support is an incredible step in the right direction.
Free Public Toilets
Aluxers, don’t underestimate the power of a free pee! If you’ve travelled a lot, you’ll have the following encounters… No public bathrooms anywhere, public bathrooms that charge you an arm and a leg to use, or free public bathrooms that are so disgusting you’d rather squat on the side of the road… but not in New Zealand!
The majority of rest rooms are free to use and they’re readily available wherever you travel.
If you want to have a whiz in what could possibly be the best loo in NZ, head to Dunedin. Waitati’s new public toilet has been nicknamed the “turdis” by locals and it boasts a gorgeous mural on the side painted by local artist, Angela Lyon.
Respectable Minimum Wage
One of the many changes that Jacinda Ardern has put in place was the increase in the minimum wage. In 2020, the minimum wage was increased to $18.90 per hour, up $1.20 from the previous $17.70.
The changes were implemented due to the economy doing quite well, and the need for everyone across the board to benefit.
For someone like Lavinia Kafoa, a security guard in New Zealand, the increase has made the world of difference. Fair Pay Agreements would put a stop to business and companies staying competitive by paying insignificant salaries.
There was criticism over the decision which came into force during Covid, with many employers stating it was the wrong time to do it. However, government went ahead stating that the money would be pumped back in the economy.
It also added, that generally undervalued jobs like cashiers, were the ones on the frontline of Covid, and it was imperative to show their value. As Ardern said, “We’ve seen the importance of the people working on our frontline, whether they are cleaners, whether they collect waste, or whether they are working at a supermarket.”
Phenomenal Handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic
New Zealand has had one of the most effective responses to Covid, and although there has been a few more cases over the last 24 hours, they’re miles behind other countries. NZ had 1,729 cases on writing this script, with a mere 22 deaths and 1,570 recoveries.
New Zealand didn’t stuff around when it came to lock down. They shut shop in March, closing borders to international travellers and allowing locals to come home and quarantine for 14 days.
Everyone knew what was going on. The message was relayed quickly and effectively, with all residents receiving text messages and regular updates.
Testing capacity was one of the highest in the world and they followed all the rules properly. We won’t dispute that being so far away from the rest of the world was a huge help.
Recent research has released reports claiming that female led countries handled the pandemic far better than their male counterparts and highlighted Jacinda Ardern from New Zealand, Germany, Denmark, Taiwan, Iceland, and Finland. Male-led countries like Spain, the UK, the US, Italy and Brazil have had some of the highest death tolls in the world.
That’s not to say some male-led countries haven’t done well, Greece and Czech have also had low death rates, but the figures speak for themselves overall, and women led countries are fairing better than male led ones.
Banned Single Use Plastic Bags
In 2019, New Zealand banned the use of single use plastic bags and introduced hefty fines for any business caught dispensing them. The law states that reusable bags must be provided.
Plastic pollution kills millions of animals every year, and the ecological, economic, and eco-toxicological effects are long term. Entanglement, ingestion, or starvation affects animals, and the build-up of pollutants like PCBs or DDT is extremely concerning.
Since the single use plastic ban, New Zealand has saved the planet from 1.1 billion plastic bags landing up in landfills or the ocean.
Banned Military Style Semi-Automatic Rifles
After the Christchurch massacre in March 2020, New Zealand banned most semi-automatic weapons.
The massacre saw 51 people being killed all while being filmed live on Facebook. A few weeks after this horrific incident, parliament voted to ban the weapons. Of 120 parliament lawmakers, all but one voted in favour of this decision.
New Zealand introduced a buy back scheme whereby gun owners could sell their weapons without penalty before the deadline was implemented. Those that did not abide by the new law could face 5 years in prison. More than 56, 000 firearms were collected, which lined up with government’s expectations.
Banned Smoking in Cars With Children
Another thing that New Zealand got right was to ban smoking in vehicles when there are children inside the car.
When the bill was passed in May 2020, all parties were in favour of it. Within 18 months, police can enforce a $50 fine on anyone caught doing this.
Second-hand smoke leads to all kinds of respiratory problems and children are most vulnerable as the damage caused can affect them for the rest of their lives.
Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa said, “Our government wants to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child. We’re making progress towards that goal by putting the interests of kids first.”
Lifted the Cap on Gender Reassignment Surgeries
If anyone was hoping to have gender reassignment surgery in New Zealand, there would be a 30 to 50 year waiting period. In the past, publicly funded surgeries only allowed for three male-to-female surgeries and one female-to-male surgery every two years. Aluxers, that’s nothing!
Since 2018, the policy has seen a complete reversal with no cap on the number of surgeries performed, and the previous caps will “become a minimum number of surgeries every two years,”
Surgery prices remain high and there isn’t always the right skills to perform these life-changing operations, but this decision is still a step in the right direction.
Microbeads Are Illegal
Microbeads are small plastic particles, less than 1 mm at their largest and are found in face scrubs, toothpastes and some body washes. They can also be hidden in eyeliners, lipsticks, nail polish and deodorants.
The damage caused by microbeads can have long-lasting effects on marine life and our health. Microbeads can absorb toxins which are then transferred up the marine food chain and into our diets. Research suggests that we unwittingly eat 5 grams of plastic a week – that’s about the weight of a credit card! Yikes!
Since 2018, products containing microbeads has been banned. Products using biodegradable particles are encouraged, like pumice and ground nutshells.
Supportive of LGBT Rights
Jacinda Ardern became the first NZ PM to walk in a gay pride parade. She used this historic moment to show support for the LGBTQI community and to fully support LGBTQI children with mental health issues.
Ardern left her Mormon religion and had this to say about her own transition: “For a lot of years I put it to the back of my mind. I think it was too unsettling… I lived in a flat with three gay friends and I remember going to church and thinking – I’m either doing a disservice to the church or my friends. How could I subscribe to a religion that didn’t account for them?”
Currently, there is controversy surrounding the banning of conversion therapy, which has already been implemented in Germany and soon to be implemented in Canada, but as Ardern says, “Know us by our deeds. Over decades now, the rainbow community knows our record, and, on that record, I stand very proudly.”
Aluxers, what do you believe New Zealand has got right that other countries haven’t quite nailed yet? We’d love to hear from you!