Neil, Business Sales Owner. Auckland, NZ.

Introduction: This submission aims to articulate professional and personal experiences and observations regarding the government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. It specifically addresses the implications of lockdowns, vaccine procurement and efficacy, and the broader social and economic impacts on New Zealanders. This account underscores the need for transparency, ethical considerations, and the protection of individual freedoms amidst global health crises.

Experience of the Pandemic – Professionally

The use of multiple lockdowns throughout the Covid-19 pandemic deeply impacted our lives, challenging the very essence of our professional and personal existence. It raised significant questions about the proportionality of such a drastic government response. It was watching businesses, including my own, teeter on the brink of collapse, feeling the weight of financial uncertainty that came within reaching the limit of our overdraft.

It highlighted a haunting reality where the measures to protect us inflicted more pain. The government's insistence on multiple lockdowns, without apparent substantial evidence or a prior cost-benefit analysis, felt like a gamble with our well-being and freedoms. The fallout from these decisions has been profound and far-reaching. The economic aftermath has been nothing short of disastrous, with inflation skyrocketing and placing an unbearable financial burden on countless businesses, their employees and families.

I am in a unique position as one of the owners of a business sales company, in that I get to see many business accounts daily. Businesses that have been established as long as 20 years are either not making any money or have already closed. Some recent examples are as follows:

Food manufacturing – Established 22 years. 122 staff. In liquidation because of lockdowns.

Sports Retail chain. 9 stores, 23 Staff – In liquidation because of lockdowns.

Manufacturing – Plastics, 7 staff. Trading profitably for 17 years before lockdowns. Now just making ends meet and the owner has health issues caused by the stress. The Business is not saleable and will have to either close or call in the liquidators. I am seeing this scenario weekly.

Every day I see accounts of many businesses that wish to sell, but are struggling and not saleable. Meaning sales are down 20 to 50% and the owners have just had enough, leaving them with mental health issues caused by the stress.

The way these lockdowns were enforced has had a huge hit on businesses. It will take many, many years to recover and of course the tax take will be substantially down.

The economic aftermath has been nothing short of disastrous, with inflation skyrocketing and placing an unbearable burden on countless businesses and families throughout our country.

Experience of the Pandemic – Personally

The emotional toll was equally harrowing. My family experienced this firsthand when our daughter was compelled to receive the vaccine due to her work commitments. The aftermath was a frightening ordeal of myocarditis, laying her low for days and bringing us to the brink of losing her. This personal encounter starkly contrasted the assurances given by authorities, igniting a fierce debate over the vaccine's safety and its hurried approval.

Our dear friend and colleague contracted turbo cancer (potentially linked to the vaccination) as did our friends son who is the same age. Our friend sadly passed away while our friend's son is still bravely battling his terminal outcome. Both of these friends were/are in their fifties.

Family members, NZ citizens were stranded overseas and prohibited to come back into New Zealand. This amplified our concerns and helplessness. The isolation brought on by lockdowns didn't just physically separate us from one another, it introduced an unsettling silence in our vibrant community life. Hearing about individuals passing away in isolation, devoid of the comfort of family, was heart-wrenching. It highlighted a haunting reality where the measures to protect us inflicted more pain. The Governments insistence on multiple lockdowns without apparent substantial evidence or a prior cost-benefit analysis felt like a gamble with our well-being and freedoms. The fallout from these decisions has been profound and far reaching, leaving our healthcare system overwhelmed and many individuals facing delays of more than a year for medical treatments.

This experience left many in our community questioning if the cure was more damaging than the disease, stirring a deep sense of unrest and scepticism towards the measures that were supposed to safeguard us.

Vaccine Procurement and Efficacy:

The government's approach to vaccine procurement and its subsequent distribution within our community stirred a mixed bag of emotions and concerns, challenging our perceptions of autonomy and informed consent. When the mRNA vaccine was rolled out, it was touted as a beacon of hope.

However, the reality felt far different, especially when considering the lack of transparency regarding its efficacy and potential side effects. (Please refer to the experience we had with our daughter on page 2)

The exclusion of certain groups from the vaccine mandate, including parliamentarians and select health sector workers, only added to the growing mistrust and questions about the vaccine's purported benefits versus its risks. The essence of choice seemed all but forgotten, replaced by a coerced consensus that failed to acknowledge individual health concerns or ethical considerations. It was a pivotal moment that exemplified the broader concerns many of us held: were these decisions truly in our best interest, or were they a reflection of a deeper, more troubling disregard for the principles of personal freedom and medical ethics as outlined in the New Zealand Bill of Rights and the Nuremberg Code. This disconnect between the government's vaccine strategy and the community's well-being needs left a lasting impact, fostering a sense of disillusionment and scepticism toward the measures taken in the name of public health.

Vaccine efficacy and more importantly vaccine safety/harm MUST be covered. The influence of regulators, including the MCNZ also needs to be examined in full. I call for a new inquiry altogether with new commissioners.

Personal and Community Impact:

The pandemic's toll on personal health and the broader community fabric was profound and multi-faceted, touching every aspect of our lives in ways we couldn't have anticipated.

We soon faced the stark reality of challenging the narrative of the uncomplicated protection we were sold.

Amidst the challenges, the societal division and erosion of trust were perhaps the most disheartening. Government measures, intended to safeguard the population, instead sowed seeds of division, pitching neighbours against each other and breeding a culture of suspicion. Instances where community gatherings, even those adhering to safety protocols, were reported and threatened with prosecution, only deepened this divide. It highlighted a growing mistrust not just in governmental decisions but in the very fabric of our community cohesion. This shift towards scepticism and fear, away from the collective unity we once prided ourselves on, marked a significant and distressing impact of the pandemic response on our societal and mental well-being.

Government Actions and Policy Evaluation:

The government's actions and policy decisions during the pandemic, spearheaded by Jacinda Ardern, have prompted a thorough reassessment of our values as a society, particularly regarding human rights and ethical standards. Central to my concerns are the apparent violations of the New Zealand Bill of Rights, specifically Section 10, which safeguards against medical or scientific experimentation without consent, and Section 11, the right to refuse medical treatment. These rights felt disregarded as the government rushed to implement policies, including the widespread rollout of the mRNA vaccine, under the shadow of urgency and fear, sidestepping the fundamental principles of personal choice and informed consent outlined in the Nuremberg Code.

The handling of the lockdown protests serves as a poignant example of this overreach, where peaceful dissent was met with a heavy-handed response. Prime Minister Adern had taken control of the narrative, claiming her Government was ‘the single source of truth', unless you hear it from us, it is not the truth”. This event, coupled with the absence of a cost-benefit analysis or a regulatory impact statement preceding such significant decisions, illustrates a disturbing trend of governance by fear rather than through careful, democratic consultation. The propagation of a single narrative, buoyed by media outlets incentivised with government funding, further undermined the public's ability to engage in informed debate, effectively silencing alternative viewpoints under the guise of unity.

This unilateral approach, underscored by a strategy that seemed to leverage fear to ensure compliance, demands accountability. The stark economic downturn, the mental health crisis exacerbated by prolonged isolation, and the societal divisions that have emerged from these policies underscore the need for a balanced approach that considers both the immediate public health concerns and the long-term societal and economic ramifications.

As someone who has witnessed firsthand the dire consequences of these policies on personal health, community well-being, and economic stability, I assert that these feelings and opinions are not just valid but necessitated by the circumstances we've endured. The path forward must involve a critical evaluation of our pandemic response strategies, ensuring that future crises are managed with a more nuanced, consultative approach that respects individual rights, fosters social cohesion, and promotes economic resilience.

Concluding Remarks:

In concluding, the need for the Royal Commission to delve deeply into the extensive disruptions and repercussions of the government's pandemic policies cannot be overstated. It's imperative that future inquiries not only scrutinize these decisions but also examine the underlying structures and attitudes that shaped them. The stance of figures like Professor Blakely, who supported mandates without a seemingly comprehensive consideration of their broader impacts, raises significant questions about the objectivity and impartiality of those entrusted with guiding our response to such crises.

My experiences and observations compel me to argue for a broader scope of inquiry-one that rigorously investigates vaccine efficacy, safety, and the consequential roles of health regulators. The current commission's limitations, particularly its omission of vaccine safety from its overview, highlight a concerning lack of breadth in addressing public concerns. The integrity of our health response system is at stake when those who raise valid concerns, such as the MOH employee who highlighted potential vaccine harm, are penalised rather than heralded for their commitment to public health.

Truth & Reconciliation type investigation is needed into the covid response, one that seeks to heal wounds, restore national sovereignty, and reaffirm our commitment to the principles enshrined in the New Zealand Bill of Rights and the Nuremberg code. Such an investigation must not shy away from examining the decisions and assumptions that led to the widespread impact on New Zealanders' lives. Only through such a comprehensive, transparent, and inclusive review can we hope to learn from this experience and emerge as a stronger, more resilient society, one where individual rights and community well-being are held in balance with public health imperatives. This is not just a matter of policy evaluation but a crucial step towards rekindling trust in our public institutions and each other, ensuring that we are better prepared and more united in the face of future challenges.

Looking forward, reflecting on New Zealand's journey through the COVID-19 pandemic reveals stark lessons and the urgent need for a revaluation of our public health strategies and legislative frameworks. The response to COVID-19, contrasted with our handling of the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009, presents a case study in how drastically different approaches can yield varied social, economic, and health outcomes.

During the swine flu, the reliance on the Ministry of Health's Influenza Pandemic Plan offered a somewhat balanced approach, focusing on managing rather than completely eradicating the virus. It allowed for societal functioning with minimal disruption, a contrast to the sweeping lockdowns and mandates introduced to combat COVID-19. Businesses faced unprecedented challenges during these lockdowns, which was unthinkable during the swine flu pandemic. This not only threatened the livelihood of many Kiwis but also amplified mental health issues, as the fabric of our community was stretched thin by isolation and fear.

Moreover, the imposition of mandates, without substantial dialogue or consideration of alternative treatments, underscored a pivot towards a more authoritarian public health stance. This pivot not only strained public trust but also raised critical questions about the balance between public health imperatives and individual freedoms-a balance that seemed to tilt precariously at times.

It's clear that a one-size-fits-all approach is neither feasible nor desirable. The experiences of the past year have laid bare the necessity for a flexible, transparent, and participatory public health strategy that values and incorporates community feedback and concerns. Legislative frameworks must be adaptable, ensuring swift and effective responses that do not disproportionately infringe on personal freedoms or disrupt societal and economic wellbeing.

In moving forward, let us harness these hard-earned lessons to foster a public health ecosystem that is not only resilient in the face of future health crises but also deeply rooted in the principles of democracy, equity, and respect for individual rights. A system where the voices of those like my daughter, who faced adverse health effects post-vaccination, and businesses teetering on the edge of viability are heard and heeded. Only then can we truly say we are prepared for whatever the future may hold, with a response strategy that is as compassionate as it is effective.


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