Gaye (64), Financial Controller. Wellington, NZ.

Throughout my story I will share some of the consequences of New Zealand's pandemic response, how I felt at the time and still feel in many cases and my personal cost.


1. In summary this was a time of loss and alienation. Anyone that chose not to be vaccinated was judged and marginalised. Division was endorsed by our very own top-ranking officials including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

2. What was witnessed during this time? An erosion of trust in government, the mainstream media and employers. There is no such thing as a “one size fits all”. A reasonable response would provide information and practical guidance whereby individuals could manage risk based on their situation. Mandates were unlawful, no jab no job did not give an individual the right to freely choose.

Some of the many questions we should be asking:

1. New Zealand already had a National Pandemic Plan, how then was this allowed to be thrown out and replaced with overreaching legislation passed with urgency?

2. New Zealand's situation was unique, with our borders closed it bought us time. We became the laughingstock of the world with our Elimination Strategy. Why then did New Zealand repeat the same strategies that failed so dismally in other countries?

3. The rationalisation for the Traffic Light System was to increase vaccine uptake. Did the decision makers just become obsessed with getting our numbers up?

4. Why did New Zealand not adapt our strategy to the evolving information coming in?

My experience of Covid-19 was as follows….

Breaking News of a new virus:

1. While there was emerging news of a virus that was killing people in China late 2019, back then it was referred to as SARS-CoV-2 we didn't really give it much attention until WHO determined it as a pandemic.

2. Was I worried? Yes, I admit initially I was quite concerned. The severity of the virus and how it was transmitted was unknown, lockdowns and closure of borders appeared to be the most practical thing to do.

3, Lockdown's saw me working from home, sometimes 16 hours a day as we attempted to put in place systems to accommodate not being in the office. We were to be fearful of grocery shopping, asking us to sign in for contact tracing purposes, wear masks, hand sanitise and let's not forget that social distancing. I usually popped down late in the evening after work was finished for the day a couple of times a week to avoid the queues.

4. Exercising in the neighbourhood was fascinating, we'd be walking along in the fresh air but when we came across other people they would step onto the road abandoned by cars to avoid passing us too closely. Looking back it's a bit of a hoot, but it did prove how afraid folk were. Walking around our local streets, you noticed that neighbours mainly kept to themselves. I was very heartened though, to see some neighbours not far from us. Some evenings they could be found sitting in their driveways or on the road on their deck chairs with a few beers enjoying some social time. Two homes belonged to local police so I guess they needn't bother about being dobbed in for talking to their neighbours!

Be Afraid, the Fear Porn:

1. Perhaps it is my affinity with statistics and numbers that flagged my curiosity. I began early on following the Ministry of Health's reporting of cases and those deemed to have died with Covid.

2. There were two things that stood out with the way these were determined/reported.

3. Cases were determined based only on a PCR test initially, then later the Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) with no other diagnosis required. i.e.. Only a positive test was required, no symptoms to confirm or deny.

4. The “Fear Porn” brought to us daily at the 1 o'clock standups with our then Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Only focused on one side of the story, very minimal if any reference given to those that had indeed recovered.

5. In our office, members of my team would crowd around someone's computer and watch every day. I recall a senior manager who would regularly come out and announce to those who'd continued working the number of new cases and those deemed dying with Covid. I would ask on occasion how many had recovered? Only to be met with a blank stare. Was this responsible governing or was there another agenda? It was unbalanced, fear focused, sensationalising the situation. What impact did it have on mental health?

Not being there for my parents:

1. Even though I live a mere 48kms away from my parents, both alive back then, due to being located in a different DHB region, travel was not permitted during the lockdowns.

2. During this time my dad's health deteriorated, he needed to see his doctor which he managed, however access was not easy and of course there was the worry of catching Covid. They struggled on alone, but what they really needed at this time was the support of their family to assist them.

3. Even getting groceries was a terrifying prospect, they were told to be fearful of catching the virus, and of course the countermeasures in place of wearing masks and all the social distancing plus the rules of signing in. An additional stress to what was already going on. They had no internet access, no access to funds except by withdrawing cash from the local money machine. Luckily a young neighbour sought them out and offered to get their groceries, I could then reimburse her online.

4. Not only were you to be afraid of getting Covid; there was also the threat due to contact tracing of being tracked down, PCR tested and moved out of your home and off to an isolation centre should you test positive – remember no symptoms required. To be honest many were more fearful of this than catching the virus itself. Imagine if you were indeed feeling unwell, uprooted from your home to then be stuck in some motel room. Suspect many people stopped scanning in and going anywhere with people that would.

5. My greatest sadness was having the opportunity stolen from me where I could have spent more time with my dad during this time, before he passed away. I would have gladly provided more support to my parents during the lockdowns. Lockdowns were so hard on them; they were isolated and lonely. They cared less about catching the virus, they just wanted to have family and friends around them, they missed their hugs and in person conversation.

No alternate treatment!

1. Vaccines were to be our only saviour!! I am a firm believer in you are what you eat, a healthy person was not at risk, so why risk your health on an experimental vaccine. We avoid processed foods where possible and read labels on food before items go into our shopping trolley. When articles started to appear about mRNA vaccines moving away from the traditional vaccine's, I took notice, I wanted to know more.

2. So, I did my research, my concerns were not allayed, then mum had a severe adverse reaction to her first Pfizer vaccination. More on that later.

3. On our return from Europe via Singapore late October 2019 we both had what we thought then, a severe case of the flu. We lost our sense of smell and appetites, high fevers, sore throat, shortness of breath… sound familiar? It was not pleasant, so not wanting to infect others, we isolated ourselves, bought our groceries online and waited it out. As it lingered longer than expected, we took ourselves off to our local GP. As I learned more about the Covid virus and symptoms, I came across a paper citing evidence that Covid existed as early as March 2019 in Europe and Asia. This certainly had us thinking that our malady could well have been an early variant of Covid. I've not come down with anything since, so perhaps it was.

4. We do not know anyone in our immediate circle of friends/family/associates that were hospitalised or have been severely ill with Covid19, let alone die with. We do, however, know of at least four people that have severe adverse reactions, three requiring hospital care and many disturbing stories of other unusual reactions post the jab.

5. Is this what is really overloading our hospital system? The Pfizer trial documents have been publicly released listing many adverse effects in their control group. Wouldn't any responsible entity want to ensure they were capturing all such events and have good observation in place to do so?

Loss of my job. :

Up until 1 April 2022 I held the position of Group Financial Controller for IHC, prior to being mandated out of my job due to the organisation rolling out their own Covid19 Vaccination Policy in February 2022.

1. By now Covid19 had moved from its original “Wuhan strain”, to “Delta” then a more weakened variant Omicron which emerged overseas late November 2021. Government response was still focused on Delta when the Traffic Light System was introduced early December 2021.

2. Before I continue, I'm going to briefly outline a selection of IHC internal comm's regarding vaccination leading up to the implementation of the Traffic Light System. (Note the change of language used.)

08.07.21 Vaccination is your choice

21.08.21 Getting a vaccination is the best thing you can do (encouraged)

08.09.21 Do the right thing and get the vaccine (shamed?)

22.09.21 Get vaccinated for a chance to win $1,000 (coerced)

07.10.21 Reached a milestone, over halfway mark for staff being recorded vaccinated

12.10.21 Relaying Governments mandate announcement

14.10.21 Roles with immediate implications that will affect employment (bullied)

03.12.21 Operating under the Traffic Light System all staff required to sign in with your “My Vaccine Pass”

3. Suddenly, overnight, I was no longer able to access my place of work due to IHC adopting their own version of the Traffic Light System. I immediately raised this with my manager (part of the exec team) who was not aware of the notice at that time. He subsequently looked at it and confirmed I was not permitted in the office and was to continue working from home office.

4. The following week I received a letter deeming the role Financial Controller must be held by a vaccinated person. Not a government mandate, an organisational wide policy that I had never seen. How did I feel, devastated.

5. As a manager I had supported my team through various lockdowns, working from home checking in on those isolated living alone and kept to myself the decision I made not to get vaccinated.

6. Written correspondence ensued back and forth for a further few months. Sleepless nights, often giving up on sleep and sharing a cuppa and concerns with my hubby in the early hours of the morning. Much to worry about, my income was the only one coming into our household, so my decision affected both of us, anxiety increased tenfold.

7. Legal fees were incurred to no avail so after near on six years of service, due only to my personal decision not to be vaccinated, I was found in breach of IHC's new Vaccination Policy and my employment was terminated on 1 April 2022. Totally overriding my fundamental human right to refuse medical treatment. Worth stating here, the Ministry of Health had published on their website at this time, that vaccination did not stop a person from contracting nor transmitting Covid19. The hope, yes, the hope was, that it would reduce the likelihood of the person requiring hospitalisation. The office I worked in was not public facing, vaccinated colleagues could be in living situations with unvaccinated individuals or socialise with unvaccinated friends. In other words, risk of contracting Covid19 was everywhere.

8. A few days later I received a call from someone I dealt with on a regular basis at the Ministry of Health. He was shocked to learn that I no longer worked at IHC and as I had a long-standing working relationship with him, I shared that it was due to being in breach of the new IHC vaccine policy. Conversation led to the Ministry of Health (MoH) Vaccine Policy, he stated that staff had been consulted in January 2022 for 2 weeks. I then learned that MoH accommodated people to continue working from home if they were unvaccinated.

9. Many months later I received a call from one of my old team members. After general conversation it was mentioned that after attending a team meeting in the office they all came down with Covid. I near fell off my chair laughing, she was mortified saying it wasn't funny. I explained my mirth, I was the one they got rid of due to my vaccination status, they were all vaccinated, there's a control group right there… an epic efficacy fail!

Mum's adverse reaction to her first shot of Pfizer vaccine:

1. My mum, then 84 years old received her first shot of Pfizer vaccine on 04.10.21. This story is told with her permission. By this time dad had passed and she was on her own. She had discussed with me, and I assume the rest of the family, what we thought about her getting it, especially after having a severe reaction to a flu shot earlier in the year. I shared my concern but said at the end of the day it was her choice.

2. Whether it was because mum knew I was hesitant about her taking the vaccine, she didn't call me until four days after the shot. She then told me what had happened to her immediately on that first night and the following few weeks after.

i. Lying in bed for those first few nights, she felt her heart was going to jump out of her chest. Worried she would not wake up in the morning.

ii. Within a couple of days her legs became red, noticed this as she regularly cared for them since 2012 when she had cellulitis after a spider bite. This was her immediate worry, made an appointment with the Dr's nurse who confirmed that it was indeed the cellulitis coming back and was given a dose of antibiotics.

iii. Arm site of the jab – got quite painful for a couple of days and was still sore on and off two weeks later.

iv. Vision blurry or hazy since the jab – worried about driving.

v. Emotional roller coaster, easily burst into tears and been quite down. This is not at all like mum and the family noticed the change. She had been cheerful, energetic and happy prior to receiving the jab.

vi. Lack of energy, she could not walk to the letter box or clothesline without puffing and being out of breath. Everything was an effort.

vii. Rapid loss of body weight, still had a healthy appetite but went down approx 3 dress sizes over a couple of weeks.

3. Forever grateful the locum GP Doctor who did not dismiss all the above as due to anxiety. While he didn't want to discuss vaccine injury, he continued to monitor her weekly for some time. My mum's friend, a recently retired nurse was better acquainted with my mum's health before and after. She attributes it to the vaccine (she was fully vaccinated at the time herself), saying there was really no other explanation for the sudden decline and all those issues at once.

4. We are so very blessed that she has slowly recovered to a reasonable health quality of life, others not so lucky. She refuses to have a bar of any further vaccines.

Two-tiered society – Traffic Light System:

1. In addition to then Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's confirmation during an interview that the Traffic Light System would create a Two-tiered society I also recall Michael Baker stating the Traffic Light System was designed to nudge the last few people into vaccination.

2. Christmas 2021, our hairdressing appointments cancelled by our hairdresser. No “My Vaccine Pass” no haircuts. We've never been asked back, needless to say after 20 years of our custom they no longer deserve our patronage.

3. Changing the way we socialised with friends and families. Restaurant and Cafés suffered during the Traffic Light System, no pass no service. We changed to potluck dinners or takeout for our regular catchups. Ultimately the businesses loosing as they lost both the jabbed and unjabbed customers. We've never returned to regular Restaurant dining; I wonder if this is the same for others?

4. Rejected from clubs – Traffic Light System. MX5 club, being the little Mazda two seater sports car, notified members via email that unless we held a “My Vaccine Pass” we were no longer welcome on car runs. Seriously, two people from the same household driving in a car with the top down in the fresh air! Similarly, the Blokart club had restrictions on who could use the blokart track or participate in events.

5. How did I feel, I suppose how they intended me to feel. I was an outcast, my absence likely became a statement of my vaccine choice. It was not about just punishing you, but it was also the additional pressure now of publicly shaming you. Friends with “My Vaccine Passes” did not fully comprehend how much we got shunned, life for them carried on fairly normally. Of course, there were past friends that cut all ties with us due to our stance, one or two have drifted back into our lives while the others we assume still think of us as “being one of those people”.

6. We managed to hang in there as a family, not without our arguments that's for sure. My brother thought I thoroughly deserved to be punished by losing my job for not “choosing” to get vaccinated. While we can still be civil to each other, our relationship will never be the same. Interestingly, our family are approx. a 50/50 mix of those that got vaccinated and those that didn't. Others have said similar things, so I have some scepticism on the vaccination levels reported.

7. What a divisive country we had become. Where has the tolerance for healthy debate gone? If we dare to express opinions that go against the narrative, we are shutdown with cancelling name calling. To such an extent that we found ourselves driven to find our people, other like-minded individuals and there we found community.

Protesting, a new first:

1. Late 2021 when the Government vaccine mandates were rolled out, I honestly thought we had become China overnight. The trampling of our right to refuse medical treatment without consequences, the change of tack from Dr Bloomfield who initially indicated the vaccination (approved with emergency use authorisation), would be used to protect the vulnerable. I joined one of the Wellington marches to parliament calling for the mandates to end.

2. What I learned that day was the way the MSM downplayed the amount of people participating. In other words, the Media Lied! Reporting with carefully framed images or clips that there were merely hundreds marching (RNZ) or just over a 1,000 people (Stuff). For those there, many taking photos and posting on social media you could plainly see there was well in excess of 10,000 people. Civic Square was crammed packed with people and the crowd extended up the steps onto the overbridge to the lagoon.

3. Convoy, Wellington Occupation March 2022. I was still working at the time, but I was heartened to witness and cheer the Convoy as they passed through like thousands and thousands of others throughout the country. I was fortunate to have visited the occupation a few times, a historical moment in NZ history and again completely different to what was portrayed on MSM. If you need evidence of the support, then I recommend you watch two extremely well-made documentaries. They not only covered the Convoy but also the people and happenings at what was dubbed Freedom Village. They are:

• We came here for Freedom

• River of Freedom

4. Politicians not engaging with the people protesting the mandates was a very dark day in New Zealand's history. I believe, like many others that it was these people speaking out and the national support for those brave souls at the occupation that saw an end to the government mandates a short time following.

5. People have again spoken by their actions so clearly voting out a Labour government and voting in a coalition to better represent the people. As a politician or a government servant you represent the people, the bill of rights is there to protect the people and the people aim to hold the government to account.

Share This