How COVID-19 changed New Zealand’s values

Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on the 12th of March 2020, people around the globe have experienced a sense of uncertainty and anxiety about what the future holds. Here at McCrindle we have conducted a number of studies to understand how Australians are responding to COVID-19. We’ve also been able to help organisations outside Australia understand how the pandemic has changed their own nations.

New Zealand has been upheld as ranking among the world’s most successful countries in containing the Coronavirus. The country responded early, entering into lockdown level 4 on the 25th of March 2020 after the total number of confirmed and probable cases hit 205. In the fourth week of lockdown, after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country would move into alert level 3, we launched an online survey to understand how the virus had impacted the values and attitudes of New Zealanders, and to gauge their outlook for the future.

New Zealanders are placing more importance on health, kindess and reflection

Renewed focus on health, kindness and time for reflection

Significant events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can often cause people to reflect and even reassess what they value in life. Prior to COVID-19 being declared a pandemic, New Zealanders were most likely to value freedom (53%), travel (41%), health (40%), relationships (39%) and choice (30%). Since then, the value placed on health increased by 14 percentage points from 40% to 54%, to become the area that New Zealanders now value most. Other values, apart from health, which have increased include kindness (14 percentage points), time for reflection (14 pp.), relationships (10 pp.) and spirituality/faith (5 pp.).

The important role of New Zealand’s leaders

In times of crisis, people look to their leaders to inspire confidence. Almost three quarters of New Zealanders (72%) say the Prime Minister is one of the leaders who has most inspired their confidence since the outbreak of COVID-19. New Zealanders have also been inspired by health experts/officials (53%) and the police (26%).

New Zealanders have been inspired by their leaders

New Zealanders identify the most important values for a leader to demonstrate during times of crisis as empathy (41%), confidence (39%), integrity (38%), commitment (33%) and accountability (30%). Positively, New Zealanders believe many of these values have been demonstrated by the country’s leaders during this time including commitment (61%), empathy (59%), confidence (58%) and integrity (43%).

Life post COVID-19

Thinking about their own lives after the current COVID-19 pandemic, New Zealanders expect they will spend more time with family and friends face-to-face (55%), take better care of their health (47%) and prioritise financial saving (40%).

Greater focus on the vulnerable post-COVID

The top three things that New Zealanders hope for their country as they move beyond the pandemic are:
• To return back to normal life (53%)
• To place more priority on the vulnerable in society (53%)
• To place a greater priority on the environment (51%)

For more on this research: The COVID19 NZ Values Study

A three-part national survey that looks into New Zealanders’ attitudes, values, and beliefs in light of the global coronavirus pandemic. Commissioned by the Wilberforce Foundation and conducted by McCrindle Research, the first survey was conducted in April 2020 during the Level 4 Lockdown, with two follow up surveys timed for July and September 2020.


Download COVID-19 report

Tags: Analyse Australia | leadership | New Zealand |