Research has found Kiwis and their Aussie counterparts experienced a dramatic increase in trust in their government and public health scientists as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Curtin University surveyed a sample of 500 people in each New Zealand and Australia in July 2020 - the results, published in the Australian Journal of Public Administration, revealing it was the government's respective handlings of the pandemic that led to such a dramatic increase.
Lead Researcher Professor Shaun Goldfinch says 80 percent of respondents agreed the government and public health officials were "generally trustworthy."
"Around three-quarters of those surveyed agreed management of the pandemic had increased their trust in government and more than 85 percent of respondents had confidence that public health scientists worked in the public interest."
The dramatic leap in trust can be seen when comparing the survey results to those of a similar survey conducted in 2009.
Only 53 percent of Kiwis believed the government was "generally trustworthy" in 2009 compared with 83 percent in 2020.
"This rise is due in part to positive perceptions of the management of the pandemic, with around three-quarters of respondents agreeing the way the crisis was handled had increased their trust in government," Goldfinch says.
The study also found the newly-gained levels of trust meant people were more likely to download and use COVID-19 tracer apps as they were able to be convinced of the app's benefits.
Goldfinch added trust levels have the potential to drop again as the pandemic ends.
"Because the research was conducted during a global pandemic, the findings may not signal a long‐term change in trust in government, which may return to previous levels when, and if, the crisis passes."
Goldfinch says the research is important as trust remains "key to effective government" especially when a nation is faced with a crisis.
"Trust in government could be viewed as a 'reservoir' that can be drawn upon when needed so that citizens are willing to take what might be unusual and unprecedented actions when their trust is high, including the use of government apps."