Without a doubt, you and I are over COVID. We are sick of talking about it, hearing “experts” give their opinion on it and having it cop the blame for everything that’s wrong.

This is generously facilitated by the lazy media who continue to update us with the daily case numbers, deaths and patients in ICU. We are affected by the numbers however, we strive for the light at the end of the tunnel. This COVID hangover is not going away until we all find something else, besides the Ukraine war and COVID to use as a scapegoat.

People’s mental health is suffering and they are taking out their frustrations on themselves, each other, society and of course the Labour Government whose popularity is declining.

I am confident that next year Dr Ashley Bloomfield will be on the Queens Honours List for basically doing his job. Without a doubt that first few months of 2020 was alarming, we were uncertain, we needed a hero and that is what he became. However, once we removed our rose-tinted glasses we saw the flaws in the way he blocked RAT’s and saliva testing last year, plus his inability to want to share patient data for vaccination purposes. And indeed, chose lower population numbers upon which to base vaccination success outcomes.

What COVID brought to all of us was heightened forms of anxiety and being kept on tender-hooks by all of these so-called experts who can’t wait to give their opinion. But on what? They are not telling us anything we don’t know anymore. We are literate, well connected and can compare global best practise. In other words, we are not all stupid.

We don’t need to hear about COVID anymore because we are over it, literally. The problem has been solved. We now know that the health system is not going to buckle and break this winter. We have another five weeks of winter left, then we’re into spring on September 1st. We have seven weeks until September 22 which is daylight saving. Bring it on! The log jam of two and a half years in bubble wrap meant we should be swamped.

There is no doubt that flu season in this country, like other countries, is cyclical with the rise and fall of winter. We now know that our COVID positive numbers are tanking and that is due to a couple of reasons. It could be that we are just not playing the game by uploading our test results due to COVID fatigue. And the requirement of ICU beds is the first determinant of any litmus test that the health system is working. Not only is it working, it can cater to increases. Plus, we are a highly vaccinated country. So, all measures on all algorithms show that the great nation of Aotearoa has overcome COVID.

What I want to know is why we are lagging behind our Australian neighbours who are moving on with life and in many cases if you test positive it’s business as usual. Our Prime Minister has received terrible advice from her senior public service all the way through this pandemic. What it goes to show you is how bad the gulf is between politicians setting a policy and bureaucrats, willingly or otherwise, executing it.

Next question is are there any other variants that are as virulent as COVID-19 when it first arrived? Answer to that question is, no. What I find more frustrating is what we don’t know. Of the death rates, we don’t know how many of them were unvaccinated. And we don’t know how many people who died with COVID actually died of COVID. These are very important numbers the system does not want us to know. Being more transparent will loosen the control they have over the narrative. The same narrative that has us worried and anxious.

COVID has run its course. Here at Te Whānau o Waipareira we will welcome back those who were forced out by vaccination mandates. We understand why those mandates were applied at the time, but our doors are open to those staff when there are job opportunities available. This is part of building bridges back to the parts of the community that were deeply affected more so than others.

As a rule, we kiwis have always had a great belief in our system, and we can’t any more. We are waking up to a lot of what is really going on, like the price gouging in the building and grocery sectors. What we all need and want is some absolute clarity to assist us with our current mindsets and give us back some faith in our system of leadership and accountability.

John Tamihere is a former Labour Cabinet Minister and Chief Executive of Whānau Ora and West Auckland Urban Māori organisation Te Whānau o Waipareira.