Summer holidays, what a lovely time to enjoy packed beaches and revel with thousands of strangers at one of New Zealand’s many music festivals.
As I shared the highlights of my summer adventures on social media, I received messages from friends in the United States, Europe and South America in disbelief that life here is almost … normal.
In one message, a friend said it gave her hope to see us moving freely.
New Zealand is the country ‘‘where it’s already tomorrow’’, she said, as if that glimpse into our life was a promise that in the future things would be alright.
That made me think about the sacrifices we made to get to this point, the freedoms we gave up and the price we paid for the common good.
It was also a painful reminder that outside our sanctuary, the world is still burning.
And how it burns … If we thought nothing could shock us after 2020, the assault on the US Capitol proved us wrong.
Last week, democracy took a serious blow.
And if we still had any illusion of equality, a concept held in high regard by the free world but rarely observed in real life, that was shattered by the hypocrisy and double standards of the response.
We watched our modern Nero set Rome on fire, putting his ego and personal interests ahead of his nation’s wellbeing.
Once again, that made me reflect about NZ.
Here, in the country of tomorrow, we are showing the world there is a different path.
One where empathy and community are more powerful than self-interest and individualism.
We are proving that unity is stronger than division.
Some of the world’s biggest economies are being brought to their knees as their divisive leaders struggle to face a common enemy.
But in NZ, we are moving forward with kindness.
And if you’re thinking kindness doesn’t put food on the table, I will respectfully disagree, dear reader.
The world is watching us in admiration and this is a monumental opportunity for NZ.
We are now the embodiment of a forward-thinking, scientifically-led, progressive country.
hose who do not subscribe to the divisive madness that rages outside will continue to look at us as a beacon of hope.
Our sacrifices hurt, and our town has felt that very acutely, but when normality resumes we will thrive.
Anything carrying the now-even-more-desirable NZ brand will benefit from it.
That includes tourism destinations, consumer products and technology.
Now is the time to design the future we want for our community and for our country.
Collaborate, co-create and come together so that we can leap ahead when the world is connected again.
Until then, continue to look after your neighbour, choose to spend money at our local restaurants or cafes, invite your Auckland friends to visit and take them on those owner-operator activities.
Let’s continue proving that kindness is not an outdated concept.
The year ahead will most likely keep challenging us, but the future is promising.
Diana Mendes is a brand and marketing strategist based in Queenstown