“The real story behind the Air New Zealand waiting four months to make vaccination mandatory is that the Government’s ICT is not ready,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“As Greg Foran told Q+A ‘In terms of customers, we're got some operational things still to work through, you know, staying close to the Government in terms of their travel health declaration and the digital solution.’

“What he’s delicately avoiding saying is ‘the Government forgot to give people any proof of vaccination other than a purple piece of cardboard that many will have lost, so they’re at aquare one and we have to wait four months.’

“I first asked Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about the passports allowing New Zealanders to travel internationally in March, and again in April. She said they were working on it.

“Six months later, they’re still working on it. Meanwhile New Zealanders who want to prove their vaccination status internationally have to get a letter from the Ministry of Health. The Ministry says they’ll endeavour to provide letters within 20 working days, we are stuck in the pre-internet era.

“The lack of proof of vaccination would be understandable if the Government’s vaccination scheme had been rushed, but sadly New Zealand’s vaccine stroll out has been the opposite. As with everything, the lack of proof of vaccination is too little, too late, and New Zealand remains the poor cousin, defined by isolation.

“Now the Government will face a nightmare trying to link a new digital vaccine passport with NHI numbers, while many vaccinated people will not have provided their NHI when being vaccinated.

“People will claim they were vaccinated, but did not show ID, as the Prime Minister has insisted they don’t need to. There will be no way to prove they didn’t.

“What the Government should have done is have the NZ COVID Tracer App upgraded at the beginning of the year. It should have allowed for people to store their status, privately, on their device. That information they held would form a key that could be transferred to any new pass, including those overseas. It might have been very helpful that the developer of the NZ COVID Tracer App also worked on the NHS health app.

“ACT has been campaigning of over a year now for the Government to adapt a tech-enabled, better Governed COVID response that works with the private sector. It appears New Zealand’s approach to proof of vaccination will be just another example of why the Government should heed ACT’s advice."

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