OPINIONPoliticsDecember 16, 2021

I can’t believe Stuart Nash was right


In a truly shocking twist, Stuart Nash was right about New Zealand’s vaccination effort, and the doubters were wrong.

As The Spinoff’s reluctant Stuart Nash correspondent, it brings me no joy to say that Stuart Nash was right. 

On September 1, Nash appeared on his regular Newstalk ZB slot alongside National MP Mark Mitchell and confidently claimed that New Zealand would have a 90% fully vaccinated eligible population by Christmas. It was an objectively ridiculous claim at the time. On September 1, 45% of the eligible population had received one dose of the vaccine, and only 24% were double dosed. There were no vaccine mandates at that point, no traffic light system, and not even the promise of enough doses for everyone in the country in 2021. 

So when Nash said that he would bet a case of Craggy Range wine on 90% of the (eligible) population being fully vaccinated by Christmas, Mitchell happily took the bet. Then Hosking jumped in and took the bet too, feeling sure that he would win. (Note: Hosking did specify that he was sure New Zealand wouldn’t reach that target without mandates, but from what I understand this wasn’t put in writing when making the bet). 

With 24 bottles of wine at stake, Nash ploughed ahead like he hadn’t just made an incredibly foolish wager. He was confident in the way that my dad used to be confidently when he would inflate my sporting abilities to anyone who’d listen. I would make my own bet that, like me at 12 years old, Jacinda Ardern heard Nash that morning and muttered something like please stop promising things that I’m not sure I can deliver. 

And yet, somehow, almost inexplicably, Stuart Nash was right. Today, Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins announced that Aotearoa’s eligible population has reached 90% fully vaccinated. More specifically, 3,788,151 New Zealanders are now double vaccinated.

Stuart Nash was right and with a whole week to spare. Since his bet on September 1, there have been nationwide campaigns, a vaxathon, superhuman efforts from community healthcare providers, and of course, mandates. 

When the bet was made, both Mitchell and Hosking said that they hoped they lost as both wanted to see a 90% target hit as much as Nash. I’m sure they’re very happy today to be ordering a case of Craggy Range wine for their foolhardy opponent.

Stuart Nash was right and I’m so pleased. Stuart Nash, who got his own vaccinations shirtless and loves to hit the gym and loves to post about it and once got into a fight over parliamentary gym etiquette and loves to make ill-advised claims – that man was right about one of the most important national health efforts this country will ever face.

There is no confirmation yet as to whether Mitchell and Hosking will honour the bet. I suspect it wouldn’t matter either way. When you throw a hail mary, 99% of the time it fails and there’s no one there to save you. No one remembers those times, much like no one remembers all the people who claimed the world was ending each of the past 50 years. But with this truly ridiculous bet, Nash threw a hail mary and was fortunate enough that the health system, his government, and 90% of eligible New Zealanders were there to catch it. 

On September 1 Stuart Nash made a wild prediction about the future of New Zealand health. Today, it actually does bring me some joy to announce that Stuart Nash was right. 

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