Newsroom’s photographer Lynn Grieveson recorded a year dominated by the global pandemic that overshadowed and influenced everything, including a historic election result. 

JANUARY 28: For the first time, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield talks to reporters at the Prime Minister’s regular post-Cabinet press conference to discuss the as-yet unnamed coronavirus spreading in the Hubei province of China. He is watched by then-Health Minister David Clark who had earlier explained plans for evacuating New Zealanders from the region.
FEBRUARY: Newspaper headlines record the first confirmed local case of the virus (now officially named Covid-19), revealed on February 28. The man in his 60s had recently returned to New Zealand from Iran.
MARCH 12: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visits the Island Bay medical centre to discuss their Covid-19 planning. They had purchased a shed for the rear of the premises to keep Covid patients separate and stocked up on gloves and masks. Two days later, on March 14, the Government announced anyone entering the country, except those arriving from the Pacific, must ‘self-isolate’ at home for 14 days. On March 19, the borders were closed to all but returning citizens and permanent residents.
MARCH 21: In a photo released by her office, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is shown preparing to address the nation about the introduction of a 4-tiered Alert Level system to help combat Covid-19. She announces that New Zealand is at Alert Level 2, with everyone asked to practise “social distancing” and indoor gatherings of more than 100 people cancelled. Photo: SUPPLIED
MARCH 22: Despite the request for everyone to practise “social distancing” (keeping 2 metres apart in public and in retail stores, like supermarkets and clothes shops and 1 metre in most other places like workplaces, cafes, restaurants and gyms) cafes and shops – like those here on Cuba St in Wellington – remained busy over a sunny weekend.
MARCH 23: Ashley Bloomfield rushes through the Ministry of Health to the media briefing room on the day the Prime Minister announces New Zealand has moved to Alert Level 3, effective immediately. In 48 hours, New Zealand would move to Alert Level 4, a strict lockdown. There were just over 100 known cases of Covid-19 in the country.
MARCH 24: With a day before the Level 4 lockdown begins, a man helps students load their luggage into his car outside student housing in Wellington so they can return home. Schools, universities and all non-essential shops and businesses were about to close.
MARCH 25: An alert is sent to mobile phones ahead of the lockdown taking effect from 11.59 pm.
MARCH 28: Autumn leaves cover Wakefield Street in central Wellington after traffic disappeared.
MARCH 30: Police talk to the manager of a fish shop which had remained open, as did many independent butcheries and fishmongers in initial confusion over the rules surrounding “essential” shops. Only supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations and some dairies were allowed to stay open to the public during Alert Level 4.
APRIL 11: Shoppers queue outside a Wellington supermarket –  a common sight thanks to limits on the number of customers allowed inside at one time.
MAY 13: The day before the country moves down to Alert Level 2, Finance Minister Grant Robertson poses for photographs with the hastily rewritten Budget 2020, dubbed “Rebuilding Together”, to be delivered on May 14. 
MAY 13: No longer working from home, a woman returns office chairs to her workplace, ahead of the lifting of the strict Alert Level 4 lockdown restrictions.
JUNE 14: Marchers in Wellington join ‘Black Lives Matter’ anti-racism protestors around the world. The global movement began with local protests in Minnesota over the death of George Floyd in May, after he was pinned to the ground and knelt on by a Minneapolis police officer later charged with second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter.
JUNE 23: Also marching on Parliament were followers of QAnon, a conspiracy theory alleging (amongst other things) that a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles and child sex-traffickers comprising Hollywood actors and the ‘global elite’ are plotting against US president Donald Trump, who is fighting to defeat them. Marching with anti-1080, anti-vaccination activists and opponents of the Covid-19 lockdowns, they shouted “Donald Trump is coming to get you” at the Beehive. 
JUNE 30: Having unseated former National Party leader Simon Bridges in a leadership contest in late May, Todd Muller presses his hands to his stomach as he talks to press gallery reporters before the National caucus meeting. Muller resigned from the role on July 14, saying he was “not the best person to be Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the New Zealand National Party at this critical time”. Later Muller revealed the toll on his mental health, saying he had suffered panic attacks since 27 May, five days after taking the leadership.
JULY 16: Judith Collins smiles as she holds her first press conference as the new leader of the National Party.
AUGUST 6:  Blues musician Billy Te Kahika Jnr, leader of the NZ Public Party, addresses a ‘Human Rights Violations’ protest at Parliament organised by Jami-Lee Ross’ Advance Party, bringing together anti-5G, anti-1080, anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown protestors, along with believers in the Covid-19 ‘plandemic’ (which alleges the pandemic is a planned fraud) and QAnon conspiracy theories.
AUGUST 31: Passengers get off a train at Wellington Station wearing face masks on the first day they were required there on public transport during Alert Level 2. After new Covid-19 cases in the community in South Auckland, Auckland went to Alert Level 3 lockdown on August 12, while the rest of the country was in Alert Level 2. The election was delayed.
OCTOBER 3: With community transmission again stamped out, and the whole country back at Alert Level 2, advance voting begins in the general election.
OCTOBER 13: Social distancing is far from people’s minds as Jacinda Ardern arrives for a campaign visit to Queensgate Mall in Lower Hutt.
OCTOBER 16: On the last day of campaigning, Jacinda Ardern stops in a Onehunga cafe to talk to organisers of the “Everybody Eats’ scheme.
OCTOBER 17: On election night at the Auckland Town Hall, Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford celebrate the Labour Party’s historic election win, which saw it become the first party to win enough seats to govern alone since the introduction of MMP in 1996.
OCTOBER 20. Judith Collins holds a press conference on her return to Parliament, backed by a diminished caucus. National slumped from 56 seats at the 2017 election to just 35.
OCTOBER 20: After early polling showed they may struggle to return to Parliament, the Green Party MPs pose for photos on the steps of Parliament, celebrating an enlarged caucus.
OCTOBER 21: Also celebrating was ACT Leader David Seymour, who went from a caucus of one to a party with 10 MPs.
NOVEMBER 4: Ours wasn’t the only election. United States Ambassador Scott Brown attends a party for US expats and embassy staff, telling the crowd he can see “a path to victory” for President Donald Trump and the Republican Party. But it was not to be, with President-elect Joe Biden getting 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.
NOVEMBER 26: It’s back to business with the State Opening of Parliament.
NOVEMBER 29: After a year interrupted by lockdowns and school closures, children are able to play in the foam ‘snow’ during Wellington’s “A Very Welly Christmas” street party.

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