If ever a scene was needed to contrast the difference between being the Government and Opposition at such times, it came in their respective press conferences.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stood on a formal stage in the Beehive Theatrette with New Zealand flags draped behind her for her announcements.
National Party leader Simon Bridges stood in Parliament’s foyer to pledge his backing for them, while a man wheeled noisy, rattling rubbish bins behind him not once, but three times.
It was one of several vaguely Monty Pythonesque moments about the Covid-19 lockdown, which kicked in just before midnight on Wednesday. There are many such absurdities to lighten the mood.
We now have an All of Government Controller, a title which is gloriously reminiscent of Thomas the Tank Engine’s The Fat Controller.
We have a Government with widespread powers to detain, to lock-up, to requisition people’s businesses and a PM issuing rallying edicts such as “Kiwis, stay home”.
First Ardern had ordered the Boomers to stay at home on Saturday: an entire generation grounded by one of their own children.
Just like that, the world switched from using “okay Boomer” as an insult to a genuine health inquiry: “okay, Boomer?”
Then came the rest of us.
Although actual holidays aren’t much fun at the moment, Finance Minister Grant Robertson offered a more than helpful alternative holiday: a mortgage holiday for those whose incomes are hit by Covid-19.
There has been much use of the terms “flatten the curve” and “cushion the blow”.’
Then came the PM’s instructions around the size and composition of the various “bubbles” of company that people were allowed during the lockdown.
Just as all those living alone were dwelling on their new lives as the Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby, Ardern offered relief.
All the lonely people would be allowed another lonely person to spend time with: as long as “you stay faithful to them and they stay faithful to you”.
Then we have our own Winston (Peters) channeling another Winston (Churchill) by delivering stirring addresses from his home office, having locked himself away for the lockdown. He even referenced Churchill’s “fight them on the beaches” address.
All of these things were welcomed by the people of New Zealand, who indeed seem to have taken on the wartime spirit Peters urged them to.
As things stand, the Government has immense amount of public good will at its disposal.
Ardern will be very aware that is a precious resource and also one that could be squandered as time goes on and the irritations build. She needs to hold on to that good will for the weeks – and yes, the years – ahead.
So to start with, she has pledged a “commonsense” approach to making decisions on what will and will not be in the “essential services” list.
Debating that list is set to become the new national pastime. Should the butcher be on it? The baker? Surely not the candlestick maker, unless in the event of power shutdowns?
After the initial list proved vague, officials moved to clarify it. That was bad news for the Warehouse, good news for the corner dairy, and limited good news for the hardware chains, who can open to supply only tradespeople.
As time goes on, this list could move further. And there will come a time when people may regret spending all that time buying toilet paper instead of going to the hairdresser for a cut and or colour job.
In hindsight, we should have taken the cue from the PM, who had a jolly good haircut a couple of weeks earlier.
It is all well and good while in isolation where nobody can see you. But eventually when the lockdown lifts, we will walk out and back into a sight from the 1960s – a brigade of raggedy, long-haired New Zealanders will take to the streets and there will be elbows at dawn at the hairdressers.
The children too may suffer from the return of the good old homemade “bowl cut”.
For those of you out there with the foresight to include in your bubble a hairdresser or somebody else useful, congratulations.
Ardern also moved to discourage vigilante justice. After urging people to be “kind” she said she realised people might want to become “enforcers” of the lockdown.
She urged them to instead leave that to the appropriate powers. She then showed she was more than happy to be that appropriate power.
When a journalist observed a cafe had been open on Tuesday morning, Ardern demanded to know which one so she could dispatch the authorities.
As she urged people to lay down their guns, NZ First was urging them to pick them up.
Their short-lived advice for the lockdown period was to go hunting.
They issued a social media ad saying people did not have to stay indoors. They could still “hunt the roar” – enjoy the hunting season.
“Solo outdoor activities are permitted so you can still hunt the roar,” it said.
It clearly did not take long for an enforcer to realise that this was a tad contrary to the wider message for people to “stay home”. Even hunting groups were advising against it.
The ad has since disappeared.