Watch: Stephen Colbert praises NZ for setting example America should follow

US talk show host Stephen Colbert has renewed his love affair with New Zealand by releasing another rosy video about life on these shores.

The frontman for the popular The Late Show with Stephen Colbert lavished special praise on New Zealand’s handling of Covid-19 and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s leadership.

Colbert had earlier had Ardern visit his show as a guest in the US, before he then visited New Zealand last October.

There Ardern picked him up from the airport before taking him to her house for a barbecue with her family and pop singer Lorde.

Now with the Covid-19 pandemic raging in the US and travel restricted, Colbert took the chance to walk down memory lane and release a new video from his time in New Zealand.

“Coronavirus infections in this country are at the highest they’ve ever been and because of that there is still massive travel restrictions for Americans all around the globe,” he said.

“All of these travel restrictions got me thinking about my last big trip last year when I travelled Downunder and a bit over to the right for my special series The Newest Zealander.

“And I really wish I could be down there now because as you may have heard, they have had one of the most successful pandemic responses in the world.”

He then pointed out that out of a 5 million population, New Zealand had experienced just 25 deaths and 2000 infections from Covid.

That was about as many infections came from a White House Christmas party, he joked.

In his new video titled, Return to New Zealand: A magical land where hugs still happen, he noted life was all but normal again on these shores with crowds able to attend sporting matches and concerts.

And while New Zealand had the advantage of being a small, remote island, a lot of the success in containing Covid was due to “New Zealanders themselves”.

“According to the medical journal, Lancet Public Health, the keys to New Zealand’s success has been decisive governance, effective communication and high population compliance,” he said.

“But the US came close with just zero of those three things.”

In explaining how New Zealand’s first lockdown worked, he quoted the New York Times as saying it was “so severe that even retrieving a lost cricket ball from a neighbour’s yard was banned”.

He then went on to say that when he visited New Zealand, there were times when it was like he was stepping into the past.

“But I look at it now and I’m hopeful that New Zealand might actually be our future, our normal full contact future,” he said.

“Here’s a fun fact, they’re actually 18 hours ahead of us, they’re literally living in tomorrow.

“And hopefully they’re also living the life we in America could be living in five or six months from now.

“A magical life of civic co-operation for the common good – let’s hope that we catch up to them on that one.”

His latest video came in what has turned out to be a publicity blitz for New Zealand.

Taxpayers forked out more than $100,000 for Colbert and his crew to visit New Zealand last year.

But Tourism New Zealand expected a “significant return on investment” of $5 million in estimated advertising value from Colbert’s trip.

The talk show host, and Lord of the Rings fanatic, spent six days in the country last October filming The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which averages 3 million views an episode.

A spokesman for Tourism NZ said the idea for Colbert to visit New Zealand first came about in September 2018, ahead of Ardern’s appearance on his show.

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