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Over 5000 pandemic stories received by COVID-19 Inquiry

With almost two weeks of public submissions still to go, over 5000 stories of the pandemic have been shared so far with the Covid-19 Inquiry, says Inquiry Chair Professor Tony Blakely.

“A vital part of the work of the Inquiry is hearing from Aotearoa New Zealanders about their COVID-19 experiences and their thoughts on how our country can plan for future pandemics, which is incredibly encouraging. We feel honoured to hear these stories and receive these contributions to the work of the Inquiry,” Professor Blakely says.

Public submissions launched on 8 February 2024, and close of Sunday 24 March. The Inquiry has received submissions on behalf of individuals, whānau, businesses, and organisations, and from across Aotearoa New Zealand – with most stories coming from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and the least received from the West Coast and Chatham Islands.

To date, the Inquiry has received the most submissions from those aged 45-54, and the least from those aged under 18, and has heard stories from NZ European/Pākehā, NZ Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, Niuean, Cook Islander, Tokelauan, Southeast Asian, Korean, Chinese, Indian, African, Middle Eastern, Latin American, and others.

Professor Blakely said in addition to the submissions the Inquiry is receiving, the personal conversations he has had with people, from all walks of life, have been valuable in helping to inform the Inquiry.

“Throughout the public submission period, we’ve had a presence at a range of events across the country to encourage people to share both their experiences and views on how we might respond to a pandemic in the future.

“Everyone I have spoken to at these events, and during our other engagements, has been generous in sharing what happened to them personally. These individual reflections are of value in terms of both our understanding of the pandemic, and what happened. We will be weaving this information in with our interviews with decision makers and many other key players in the pandemic response, along with the many pages of evidence we’ve collected and are considering as we work towards making findings, lessons and recommendations.”

Professor Blakely encouraged all those yet to make a submission to do so.

“You shouldn’t assume that your experience was commonplace or that the insights you have will not be of use to our work. In many conversations I’ve had since taking on this role, I have learnt something new that usefully feeds into our thinking as a Commission of Inquiry.”

Alongside sharing their experiences of COVID-19, the public also have the opportunity to provide feedback on what an expanded terms of reference for the Inquiry might include. Feedback on the terms of the reference will be provided to the Department of Internal Affairs, who will then provide advice to the Government ahead of any changes that might be made to the scope of the Inquiry. As a result of this consultation, the Inquiry may be asked to look at additional aspects of the COVID-19 response.

People can share their COVID-19 story via the Inquiry’s dedicated online submission site – www.covid19inquiry.nz – up until 24 March 2024.

“We would like to thank everyone who has shared their COVID-19 experience with the Inquiry so far. The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on all of us, and we know that sharing your stories can be difficult or upsetting,” says Professor Blakely.

 

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