Media release: New report criticises politicisation of New Zealand’s COVID-19 pandemic management

Emeritus Professor Des Gorman
Dr Murray Horn
Media Release
20 April, 2023

Wellington (Thursday, 20 April 2023) – A new report, authored by Emeritus Professor Des Gorman and Dr Murray Horn, reveals that New Zealand's COVID-19 pandemic management was highly politicised and resulted in poor performance during the outbreak.

Lifting the Lid: A Critical Analysis of the Covid-19 Pandemic Management in New Zealand offers recommendations on how to improve future responses.

Professor Gorman states, “New Zealand’s pandemic management was marred by political considerations, which compromised the effectiveness and efficiency of our response.” He adds, “Transparency and collaboration are crucial in managing crises, but unfortunately, these values took a back seat during the pandemic.”

Gorman and Horn argue that the government’s decision to prioritise political interests resulted in a lack of transparency and undermining social cohesion, leading to a loss of confidence in the institutions that sustain a healthy democracy.

To prevent similar issues in the future, the authors recommend:

  1. Being proactive and adaptable, avoiding excessive politicisation.
  2. Enhancing planning and capacity for better crisis response.
  3. Learning from successful governance models that reduce political interference.
  4. Involving private sector partners to deliver key response elements.
  5. Guiding responses by consistently balancing risks, costs, and benefits.

This report, published by The New Zealand Initiative, is a valuable resource for policymakers and stakeholders looking to learn from the challenges and shortcomings of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Professor Gorman will discuss the report’s findings and recommendations during a webinar on 20 April from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm. Those interested can register for the event via Zoom using this link:

If you would like to interview Professor Gorman, please contact him direct on 021 221 7055 or Amanda Boyd or phone 04 499 0790.


Read our Research Note: Lifting the Lid: A Critical Analysis of the Covid-19 Pandemic Management in New Zealand

About the Authors

Emeritus Professor Des Gorman MD PhD and Murray Horn PhD are Senior Adjunct Fellows at The New Zealand Initiative, a public policy think tank in Wellington. Both have extensive experience in health and business sectors, making them well-equipped to offer insights on pandemic management.

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