When is a PAK’nSAVE not a big yellow store with plenty of car parks around it? That’s right, when the store is located on the main road between Apia and Samoa’s Faleolo international airport. The store is yellow alright, but somehow lacks the dimensions and presence of its illustrious New Zealand counterparts. Would we notice the store even, if it did not claim to be a PAK’nSAVE? Probably not. But as we have grown up on a steady diet of brand awareness, visual association and corporate identity recognition, we do.

And we immediately recognise that something is not right, as we are running around with a normative standard in the back of our heads, which we then use to make value judgements.

Perception works in a similar fashion. Because ‘we’ have been on holiday, and we have seen plenty of other people on our holidays, we perceive that just about everyone we come in contact with has also been on holiday.

This is not such a simple assumption to make any more and our perception may therefore be totally wrong.

The country certainly no longer closes down in its totality any more. These days have long gone. Even uni students acknowledge that the ‘summer school’ concept has some merits these days. If we were a straight forward consultation business, we might just get away closing up shop for up to six weeks, subject to cashflow forecasts. But as an IVA, a produce survey business and a mystery shopping services provider, closing up shop when we are keenly needed by our seasonal clients, extended summer holidays are not a luxury The AgriChain Centre can indulge in.

So here we are. Anniversary weekends and Waitangi Day packed away for another year. No more public holidays until Easter. Schools are back but the main body of uni students is mercifully still a couple of weeks away from hitting the roads and contribution to Auckland’s ever increasing congestion.

Everything back to normal then? Not quite. This time last year, we were just becoming familiar with this new virus, Covid-19 and had difficulty in remembering its name. Today, a year later, Covid has invaded our entire existential framework and there is no escaping, even if we ‘perceive’ everything being back to normal. We might not see many people with masks around unless we take public transport, all the shops are open and we can meet mates at the pubs. But that alone does not constitute ‘normal.’

Perceptions are not fail proof! We have not seen the last of Covid yet. I would like to wish all of you a healthy and successful 2021 with the resilience to withstand the challenges Covid will have in place for us throughout the year and the presence of mind to do the right thing, at the right time and , in the right way.