Day 47 and the big announcement and explanation this afternoon about alert level 2 and how it will play out from this Thursday. No more than ten people in any one space is a key principle. Maintain social distancing, two metres apart at all times with people outside your bubble. Do shop but limit your contact with others. Act fast and report to your doctor, or Healthline if you detect even the slightest sniffle. Work from home if you can and stay safe. Jacinda was wearing a bold metal neck plate for the media conference. It glinted between the two curtains of her long dark tresses. The adornment looked Egyptian. I thought how appropriate. In some respects Jacinda, with her pale skin and chiselled features, the black long hair has the look and stance of an Egyptian Goddess. She would be Maat, or Mayet the goddess of Truth, Morality, Justice and Balance, daughter of the sun deity Ra and the moon god Toth. Mayet kept the stars in motion and the seasons changing. She maintained order in the cosmos and stability in the universe. And that, to me, is Jacinda our prime minister and what she has achieved for New Zealanders over the past nearly eight weeks. She acted decisively and came in early with lockdown. She averted catastrophe. And now she is opening the country again to rebuild the economy, earlier than her counterparts. She has done an amazing job along with her team. The words of my friend in public health continue to resonate. She said, ‘This has been a dream government to work with.’
While those thoughts were running I was observing Jacinda’s stance as she delivered the weighty speech, long and dense with information as it was. Occasionally I saw her swaying, a small motion, from foot to foot — I’m sure Helen Clark did something similar — as she gripped the lectern. Perhaps the movement is designed to pump blood through the system and help the orator stay focussed. I’m not really sure but it had me thinking about the colossal juggling act she has been performing, this woman who is by turn prime minister and strong leader, Egyptian goddess and ethereal creature, young mother and partner, somebody who clearly loves children, a family person and I was thinking about her youth and the extraordinary burden placed on her shoulders. I wonder sometimes how she stays standing.
This last weekend I saw a post from Jacinda on Instagram. It was a photograph of a very short wooden stool placed before a low bench. On the bench there was a chopping board with one onion and one head of broccoli. Jacinda said she’d been wondering about the very low bench and it’s function. Finally she had worked out a use for it. A place to sit to peel and chop vegetables. In that action you have her humility. She is someone we can relate to. When you consider how many leaders fall into the trap of believing they are mightier than the people they govern Jacinda’s lack of vanity gleams even brighter.
I enjoyed that. Writing my tribute to a fine human being.
And to finish on the flowers, featured here. They were picked yesterday for my mother. Back in February I had pruned the Beaglehole’s climbing roses. They ramble along two fences near the back garden. It was a scorching hot Saturday when I went to work. I saw this as something to do while my stomach was churning over the approaching mediation. There is something about working in a garden in times of stress that can be a great salve to the spirit. Yesterday I happened to notice that the rose nearest to where I park my car had one pale pink bloom, just the one. I took it as a thank you from the plant and picked it.