Social Capital: Our Connections
Social capital includes the social connections, attitudes, norms, and institutions that contribute to societal wellbeing.
The strength of New Zealand’s social capital was a major contributor to the success of our COVID‑19 response, which in turn has strengthened our social capital further.
The high trust and spirit of reciprocity shown by New Zealanders have helped make our response to COVID-19 one of the most successful in the world. The approach New Zealanders supported - staying home to save lives - meant restrictions were successful, and were in place for a shorter period of time than predicted to eliminate community transmission in the first wave and avoid subsequent waves. The head start New Zealand has in its economic recovery is down to the actions of all New Zealanders in the fight against COVID-19, backed by high trust in each other and institutions, social cohesiveness and the stable political environment that is New Zealand's strong democracy.
New Zealanders stayed home to save lives. Google Mobility data showed significant reductions in workplace mobility, and corresponding increases in residential mobility, during periods at elevated alert levels.
The wellbeing supplements to the Household Labour Force Survey in the June and September 2020 quarters indicate that New Zealanders' trust in the health system and in Parliament are higher than in the previous General Social Survey conducted in 2018.
New Zealanders' trust in people and various institutions (the health system, Parliament, Police and the media) differs by population group, according to the HLFS wellbeing supplements. For example, the September 2020 wellbeing supplement showed that Māori and Pacific people had relatively low levels of trust in Police and people in New Zealand compared to other groups. Sole parents had lower levels of trust in people and institutions. People in urban areas tended to have more trust in people and institutions than did people in rural areas.
As we rebuild from COVID-19, it is important that we maintain trust in each other, and provide reason for New Zealanders to continue to hold the trust they have in key institutions.
The strength and supportiveness of New Zealand's communities were also evident through COVID‑19.
Community-led support was especially important for those groups within our communities who found it harder to access the help they needed during periods at higher alert levels, or were less willing to trust Government information delivered at arm’s length. For these groups, the Government’s partnerships with community leaders ensured that those most in need were better able to access all the services available to them.
The Government's COVID-19 response included a $45 million package for Whānau Ora providers to provide tailored responses for their communities during the pandemic. Whānau Ora agencies set up 79 Community Based Assessment Centres, delivered 260,000 support packs to over 326,000 whānau members and provided more than 40,000 flu jabs to Māori during 2020.
The Government also provided targeted funding to non-government organisations (NGOs) and marae to support community-led responses to COVID-19. This included funding for Pacific communities in South Auckland, who were particularly affected by the second escalation in alert levels in August 2020.
-  For example see https://www.researchnz.com/assets/resources/CovidConcerns15.pdf. A survey by Research New Zealand found 34% of New Zealanders strongly agreed and 50% agreed that the Government and officials were doing enough to prevent another COVID-19 outbreak, while 4% strongly disagreed and 9% disagreed. Asked if the ‘Team of 5 Million’ was doing enough to prevent another outbreak, 16% strongly agreed and 59% agreed, while 2% strongly disagreed and 16% disagreed.
-  See https://www.researchnz.com/assets/resources/EuResearchNZ_DemocracyPoll.pdf. A survey by Research New Zealand found that 90% of New Zealand respondents said they had full trust and confidence in our democratic process. This compared to 66% in Australia, 55% in the United Kingdom, 23% in the United States and 8% in Hong Kong.