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Source: University of Canterbury – statements

13 August 2020

Lesson‐Drawing from New Zealand and Covid‐19: The Need for Anticipatory Policy Making

A new article by two University of Canterbury political experts on the New Zealand Government response to COVID-19 has just been published in Political Quarterly (a Q1 Scopus peer-reviewed journal).

Professor Sonia Mazey is Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the College of Business and Law at the University of Canterbury. Professor Jeremy Richardson is an Emeritus Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford University, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Canterbury. They were both formerly Political Scientists at Oxford University, before moving to New Zealand.


The Covid‐19 pandemic has seen most governments worldwide having to think on their feet rather than implementing detailed and well‐rehearsed plans. This is notwithstanding the fact that a pandemic was bound to happen, sooner or later (and will happen again). The effectiveness of national responses has varied enormously. Globally, New Zealand has been perceived as setting the gold standard in ‘curve crushing’, and for a short period achieved Covid‐free status. For this achievement, much credit is due to the New Zealand government, especially to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. However, post‐lockdown the New Zealand government has encountered a number of Covid policy implementation problems (many of which could have been anticipated). Nevertheless, Covid‐19 might still turn out to have been a seismic shock to existing policy processes and policy frames (such as austerity). If so, there are grounds for hope that in the future, governments and voters might be less short‐term in their outlook. Perhaps anticipatory, rather than reactive policy making, might become more fashionable?

The entire Political Quarterly article (free online access) is here:

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UC Communications team,, Ph: (03) 369 3631 or 027 503 0168