The Covid Chronicles – Lessons from New Zealand by Paul Little
Difficult days and challenging times… we all know 2020 has been unprecedented in every way imaginable.
Aotearoa’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been dramatic and I was weary of reaching news saturation. However, it’s not often I receive an advance book review copy and devour it on the same day. Put simply, this is storytelling at its best!
The Covid Chronicles is a real-time account of an extraordinary time in New Zealand’s history. Each week, across Alert Levels, from March to June 2020, Paul Little interviewed a diverse range of New Zealanders. How was Covid-19 impacting them, their family, work and community? What was their experience of changing Alert Levels? How did they interpret what was happening in the world around them?
Paul was driven by the belief that personal stories, recorded and written in real time, provide a special perspective on history, without the filter of hindsight. The result is a unique journey of discovery for readers.
“When this book was begun, the participants had no idea how their stories would end nor how successful the country’s efforts would be in dealing with the threat of the coronavirus,” says Paul.
Interview participants span business, education, government, media, mental health, social services and features Siouxsie Wiles, Jenene Crossan, Grant Robertson, Francis and Kaiora Tipene, Juliet Gerrard, Chris Farrelly and more.
“This is not the story of New Zealand’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. It is the story of how that pandemic affected several lives,” says Paul.
Paul’s intention is for these personal accounts to be a celebration of the New Zealand effort against the virus. As his writing deadline drew closer, Paul noted there was no way of knowing how the pandemic would progress. But for anyone wondering about its beginning, this is what it was like, he writes.
Although The Covid Chronicles ends neatly on 8 June when we entered Alert Level 1, New Zealand’s story continues. We know that New Zealand remained COVID-19 free for over 100 days, before a resurgence saw Alert Levels heightened throughout the country. While the pandemic continues to impact our daily lives in New Zealand and internationally, my hope is that Paul Little’s storytelling continues.
Reviewer: Andrea Molloy HarperCollins NZ, RRP $36.99
Available 16 September, pre-order now.