Opinion

I hope Jacinda Ardern’s having a good time in Fiji

What a day to be a homeowner yesterday. What a day to be a homeowner who likes salad. 

The OCR is up, mortgage rates up, food prices up, groceries up. Cucumber, tomatoes, and green beans - symbols of exorbitant wealth. 

I hope Jacinda Ardern’s having a good time in Fiji and I hope Grant Robertson’s feeling better from COVID and has managed some downtime in iso because that dynamic duo is going to return to parliament after the school holiday recess to a tidal wave of trouble. 

Yesterday I praised Ardern’s leadership in crisis - March 15th, Whaakari and the initial response to a global pandemic. 

Now, she has a new trifecta of crises to deal with and unlike those gut-punching, out-of-the-blue, traumatic crises listed above - these are the incremental, daily grind, stealth bomber type of crises. 

The cost of living crisis. The health crisis. 

Yesterday, the government proved it has the wherewithal to do something to address the crime crisis - albeit a small something - by announcing a package which will go some way to appease police and hone in on rising gang tensions. 

And let’s assume the climate crisis is a greater political problem for the greens right now. 

But it’s those other two crises - health and cost of living - that will require deliberate, targeted and intelligent navigation because they represent the political minefield the Prime Minister will have to cross if she wants to make it to the election unscathed. 

We are a country of cows and yet so many households - who, five years ago were doing ok - now can't afford milk and yoghurt. They can’t afford fresh fruit and vegetables. 

Record numbers are drawing on food parcels and support from places like the Auckland Mission. 

We have seniors renting in retirement - and those are arguably the lucky ones - others are sleeping in garages, their cars. In the saddest cases, they’re dying in them. 

There are four times more seniors on the social housing waiting list now than there were when Labour came to power.

And let’s not even get started on the number of families and children living in motels. 

Cancer surgeries are being delayed with no deadline set by Health NZ to turn that around.

Need to see a GP? Many - too many - can’t and are flooding Emergency Departments instead. Further straining our health system. 

Amid a nursing crisis, we are staring down an exodus of nurses because it’s too hard to get residency here compared to Australia or Canada. 

The best health advice in New Zealand right now? Don’t get sick, whatever you do, don’t get cancer. Perhaps try not to get old either. 

I’d love to say fortify your health with antioxidants and vitamin c from fresh fruit and vegetables but I won’t tantalise you with such unattainable riches. 

People can’t afford to fill up their cars. Firefighters are doing 100-hour weeks for peanuts. COVID cases are skyrocketing. Kids are driving through shop windows. Rents are unaffordable. Children aren’t going to school. Airports are chaotic. Water and sewerage pipes are buggered. We have a national meth problem - fentanyl’s also arrived here. We’re still letting down Māori and Pasifika kiwis in every statistic. 

I don’t know what the answer is here. I know there’s no silver bullet and I understand there’s a perfect storm of external horrors also colliding to make it all worse. 

But that’s where we need our Government to show leadership. To come through with some solutions. 

To listen to the people that do know what will help alleviate some of the pain. The shooting pain, ripping through the country without a nurse in sight to help.