New Zealanders believe COVID19 will significantly shape the children of today new research has shown.

A second pulse study published today by the Wilberforce Foundation finds that 87 per cent of New Zealanders believe COVID19 will significantly shape the children of today with more education delivered on line, expectations of more flexible working conditions and a heightened desire to travel and to see the world. Nearly three out of four New Zealanders think the pandemic will also have a negative impact on the mental health of younger people.

The study does show rising levels of anxiety among younger generations in response to the COVID crisis and marked differences between the generations - particularly for younger New Zealanders, aged 18 – 25 years, who are typically feeling more anxious (42 per cent) and those aged 26 – 40 years who are feeling more scared (34 per cent), when compared to older generations.

The study of 1,000 New Zealanders explores attitudes, beliefs and values in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is the second of two pulse studies conducted just before Auckland entered lockdown for a second time and the rest of the country moved to level 2.

“92% New Zealanders are looking forward to a return to normal life”, Chris Clarke, Executive Director of Global Local and Advisor to the Wilberforce Foundation said. “At the same time 9 out of 10 New Zealanders agree COVID19 will change the way we live. Increasingly we seem to be accepting that life in our country will be very different and a ‘new normal’ to the one we knew just a few months ago. There lies the challenge for political, business, community and spiritual leaders.”

New Zealanders continue to express confidence in COVID19 leadership. When asked which leaders had inspired their confidence during the pandemic, 73 per cent indicated the Prime Minister (up 1% since April) , 61 per cent identified health experts and officials (up 8%) , and 23 per cent the police (down 3%).

Clarke, said “what continues to stand out is the ‘Kiwi spirit’. Nearly two out of three New Zealanders identified the sense of pulling together for the greater good, kindness and friendship and a sense of achievement as examples of the Kiwi spirit in action during the pandemic.”

While New Zealanders are feeling less emotionally resilient 46% (54% in April) there has been a corresponding rise in spiritual resilience (up from 43% to 48%). “This suggests New Zealanders are emotionally weary after 5 months of uncertainty, but are drawing increasing strength from their spirituality” says Clarke. The study also found most New Zealanders agree that the church has a valuable role to play in supporting the vulnerable, helping build local community and working alongside charities. Younger generations, in particular, felt the church could play a meaningful role in New Zealand’s recovery by offering a message of hope.

The Wilberforce Foundation intends to undertake one further snapshot survey in the coming months.

Statistics at a glance:

  • 1,000 New Zealanders surveyed in late July through early August.
  • 87 per cent of New Zealanders believe the pandemic will significantly shape today’s children.
  • 42 per cent of young New Zealanders (18-25 years) felt anxious whereas 43% of those aged over 75 felt relaxed.
  • 73 per cent of Kiwis were inspired by the Prime Minister.
  • Over six out of 10 New Zealanders indicated that pulling together for the greater good, kindness and friendship and a sense of achievement were aspects of the kiwi spirit they have seen at this time.