Coronavirus: Kiwis deserve 'pat on the back' for compliance during lockdown

New Zealand's nearly perfect level of lockdown compliance deserves a collective pat on the back, a behaviour professor says, but he also warns of the long road ahead.

Massey University human behaviour specialist Professor Paul Spoonley says Kiwis have complied well so far under alert level 4, but he fears that will gradually shift downwards the longer people are in lockdown.

"We're going to get a decline in the level of compliance, there's no doubt about it," he said during an interview on Rebuilding Paradise with Paul Henry.

"We're going to get dissent, we're going to get political opposition, that's inevitable. But I hope that what we can do is contain or maintain a degree of unity that begins to ask some important questions." 

But Spoonley says New Zealanders should congratulate themselves on how well they've done so far.

"I think we need to give ourselves a collective pat on the back at this stage of the process.

"I think what we need to emphasise is the positive which is the compliance - which is 90 percent. No country comes close to that."

He believes that part of the high compliance levels is down to how Kiwis have reacted to the Government's response to COVID-19.

"We really rallied around, but we've also reacted to our Prime Minister, to [Director-General of Health] Ashley Bloomfield, to the people that are telling us what's happening and what we should be doing."

But that trust could disappear if case numbers begin to rise and alert levels are changed again.

"The yo-yo effect, the fact that you go down to level 3 or level 2, then you've got to come back to level 4 - then the trust begins to evaporate," Spoonley says.

"The trust in your government, the trust in the people that you're relying upon - particularly the health professionals - begins to evaporate. I think at that point you're in difficult territory."

He hopes that New Zealanders can maintain a degree of unity so that "important questions" can continue to be asked.

Watch his full interview with Paul Henry above.