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Our People in Covid Times

March 21, 2020 When we talked to Tessa Stephens at Flagship Eatery today she was fresh from listening to Jacinda's address to the nation in which she announced that New Zealand has moved up to Covid-19 alert level 2. She was understandably feeling pretty shaky.

"Today's probably been the quietest day we've seen. Until today people have still been coming and are super supportive. We had the last Burger Night last night and it was busy and had a fun party vibe.

”But I think after today's announcement everything will change.

”The beauty of it is we're all suffering together, it makes it a little easier knowing that."

March 22, 2020

This is Emily Walpole. She's been wondering whether there are any local groups organising support for people at risk from Covid 19.

She also has a Covid 19 support idea of her own: Shared Shopping.

“Everyone's going to need to continue to go food shopping and we've been asked to shop as normal (chocolate and wine for me!) I've seen people posting on facebook offering to collect groceries for our at risk community, and we can also group shop with our friends and neighbours to help reduce the number of people out and about.

There’s a great app to help you do this called Out of Milk

”It’s a free app for Android and IOS, which allows you to create shopping lists that you can share with others, via the app, email, or text... simple”.

March 23, 2020

This is Rob Pokoati & Marama Pepe, sitting outside their place after a bike ride and soaking it all up. We’re talking to different Gizzy locals about how things are for them in these times, about how we can best support each other as this rapidly changing situation unfolds:

“I think everyone should be getting in touch with their friends and just really seeing how they’re going. Instead of messaging everybody, ring them and talk to them, we’re all in the same boat you know.

”There might be some people who are almost paralysed with fear because things are really uncertain, especially with work and stuff.

”But I suppose in a positive light, the world is saying, sit down and reflect on what you are doing, and change, change your ways.

”That’s what we’re doing out here, we just got back from a bike ride and now we’re just soaking it all up. We see these two kingfishers flying over and I was just saying then, ‘Far out I’ve never seen those here before’. It’s almost like the earth is saying to us, sit here and listen, and reflect.

”Yesterday when we rode our bikes out to Wainui there were so many people out riding their bikes, which is awesome. I suppose times like this would be good times to do book exchanges too, when you’ve got so much time on your hands”.

March 23, 2020 Jo McKay was down at Midway watching her kids in the surf over the weekend. We’re talking to different Gizzy locals about how things are for them in these times; about how we can best support each other as this rapidly changing situation unfolds:

“How am I finding these times? Fast. It’s all happening very quickly. And as much as I am concerned, I am also in equal measures really interested and excited to see the positives and the changes we need in our society, to come out.

"Me personally, I just want to make sure that I have social contact with friends. Its my main thing actually. And in terms of supporting each other, my hope is that as neighbourhoods we will all reach out to each other and find out who are the people living close by that need support and how we can look after each other, share resources, be generous, be kind.

“Tomorrow I am hosting a neighbourhood gathering with distance, where we may or may not drink tea together. Just to check in, to make sure we all know each other, make sure that the people who need supplies have people to get supplies for them, find out who has access to different resources ,if that’s needed. Mostly make sure we know how to contact each other and that we feel comfortable doing so.”

March 24, 2020

Meet Dylan, Charlotte and baby Jameson. These guys were at the neighbourhood gathering called by Jo McKay in the weekend. Jo asked them how they were going:

"We're feeling a little annoyed everything is getting bought out. Panic buying is inconvenient. That's the only issue for us really.

"We don't need any support yet but want to make sure that all people do their bit to keep everyone safe. It only takes one person to drop the ball.

"Silver linings are the drop in pollution, which is cool. And the gardening. People are looking to the land instead of the supermarket".

March 25, 2020

This is Shanon O'Connor’s bookcase. She’s feeling optimistic about the community supporting each other through COVID19.

“People are stressed and reading is powerful for helping readers escape their reality. Social media is dominated right now with minute-by-minute updates and while its good to stay informed, it’s also important to unplug”.

On Friday, because of COVID19, the Gisborne public library closed. In the weekend Shanon shared photos and videos of her bookshelves #bookshelftour and the next day she was delivering books to mailboxes across Turanganui-a-Kiwa.

In the spirit of kindness, many readers returned the offer and now Shanon is looking forward to the stack of books she brought home with her. This gesture has been mirrored across the community with some gyms lending out equipment, some gardeners sharing seedlings, some businesses lending out tech and the list goes on.

March 26, 2020 Lil and Shane Aupouri.


“I think our hierarchy made a good call, instead of saying ‘when should we do it?’ - Just doing it. We are in a good spot. And hopefully we learn from this and we do makes changes in our lives and how we get on with each other.” Lil: “There’s a rainbow in this..there are lots of them. You just need to look for them. If you even just look at the groceries at the supermarket, there’s bags of flour now, which is what I grew up with, big bags. I saw big pottles of dripping, like for fry bread. And I thought, woah, it’s really taking us back to how we were raised. You’ve got to cook all your kai now, you can’t just ring up and order takeaways. We’ve got to look at what we’ve got and think, how can I stretch that, how can I feed my whanau - you do the carrots and I’ll do the spuds, and you knead nan’s rewana. Nan will show you how to fry it. That’s how we were raised, and now we’ve got the time to do that because no one’s going to work. ”So there’s a rainbow there. That’s how I see it. "As a teacher, I know that there are people hurting, But we’ll all adapt, work things out. There’s so much that we can do ourselves that we’ve lost - we’ve become a convenience society”.

March 31, 2020

While the weather was playing ball last week, getting out on the bikes with her kids was essential for Rural Plunket Nurse and Mum Vanessa Robertson. For the less inspiring forecast this week, she's kept a bunch of 'inside ideas' in her back pocket, including some keep her and the kids active - check out the YMCA Gisborne Fitnesspage for a bunch of challenges & ideas.

“I’m at home by myself with the kids and I think that’s a blessing. My kids are adjusting to their new normal. This is giving them an opportunity to realise how connected they are and how this is going to water their connection with each other, rather than being distracted by friends and the goings on of our world.

“I’ve slowed down, put my feet on the ground. What’s the hurry, it’s heavenly. In the mornings, there are no lunch boxes, no rushing. I can stop and have breakfast instead of drinking a smoothie in the shower.

"Our work are doing home consults. My clients are used to being isolated so this is just another day for them. They’re like, ‘everybody welcome to our world. Every day we make our bread, and we don’t let the kids guzzle two litres of milk every day’. But they [my clients] are really grateful of the phone calls. My work are being great; we’re told to do what we can and to take care of ourselves. It’s bringing out the best in loads of people eh…

“My 12 year old daughter is really embracing learning from home. She's set up this amazing workspace in her room. She’s got a diffuser going, she’s got flowers, it’s just gorgeous. She’s motivated to do her school work online, but I’m finding it tough seeing them on their screens more than usual. So I’m adjusting. I’m like, ‘can’t we read a book for a bit?’”

April 1, 2020


”I'm enjoying the rahui in a lot of ways. I love spending more time with my partner and son. As a nurse and mum I'm tapping into my natural urge to nuture. I'm feeding them good nutritious food and keeping the house hospital grade clean! It's been a long time since I've baked bread from scratch and I intend to use the fruit trees, (which are laden) to preserve, something I never have time to do.

”I feel very fortunate that as a nurse I am able to work from home. My role is in needs assessment for the elderly so I manage most of that coordination from home. (Lucky I have an IT guy in the house!) As you can imagine it has been complicated by COVID19 but not as much as my nursing colleagues on the frontline who i truly admire. I'm so proud of them and our chosen profession. As a community I have been heartened by the kindness I've seen toward the vulnerable members of our community. People allowing elderly to the front of supermarket queues, helping them with shopping, checking on the homeless to make sure they are ok, standing at checkpoints to protect the nannies and papas up the coast. I feel pretty blessed to be part of this community right now.

”To pass some time and bring a little happy to the situation we thought we'd share a ukelele song on FB. We had a lot of positive comments that it was 'uplifting' and made people smile. So we made another one and challenged other local musicians to do the same. There is a lot of diversity in the music scene here so I really hope others take up the challenge. What better time to showcase local talent? Captive audience!

”I’m finding it hard trying to limit teenager gaming...and to get him to eat the fruit before the biscuits. Food rationing not going so well lol!

OWEN (on the right):

”Working from home has been good. Being in IT there has been very little change in my daily work, except a greater focus on helping others get setup to work from home. As a family we have started a daily fitness routine, and daily challenges. I've struggled with focusing 100% on work when in a home enviroment, especially with school holidays and normal home distractions.”

FINN (on the left)

”Pros: more game time, more family time, sleeping in, staying up late

Cons: not being able to see mates, schooling (it's harder to ask questions to the teacher), sports are off. No fast food!”

April 2, 2020

This is Monica Donnelly and the other members of her bubble, her kids and fellow bear hunters:

"I won’t lie, I struggled at the beginning of the lockdown, all the changes and disrupted routines were extremely stressful. Plus “trying” to work from home and help the kids adjust to our new lifestyle...had a big fat cry to let it all out and we’ve been prioritising fun each day since.

"Yesterday we went on a bear hunt around our neighbourhood yesterday. After 40 minutes of walking we found 74 bears!

"Big shout out to the lady who hid behind her unicorn on the window sill and made it wave back to the kids, they were jumping with excitement.

"My neighbours' daughter and mine have been writing letters to each other to arrange times to turn their walkie talkies on for a chat.

"There’s been a lot of fort building, tree climbing and cake baking, I’m pretty excited to see what the next few weeks brings"

April 3, 2020

"We went from a fabulous whanau weekend at the WOMAD festival in Taranaki, to doing work and school from home, all within a week. Initially it was very strange as it happened so quickly. It took a few days to accept that we were going to be home-based for a few weeks, and I'd have little panic moments throughout the day when I thought about it, but we are now settling into a rhythm and it's good.

"It can be hard to stay on task when working from home. My husband is working from the shed and I'm working from our bedroom. There are 4 kids in the house, 2 of whom are teenagers. They're missing their friends, school and sport, but we're lucky we like hanging out together. I worry for people in bubbles who may not get on very well.

"I try to focus on the positives of our day and the things I'm grateful for, like our health, our home and our jobs.

We are trying to create things to look forward to in our days, things like dress up dinners and exercise sessions. I've been quite inspired seeing what others are doing to keep positive, and I get ideas that I put to the family over dinner. So far, they have been keen to play along!

"I believe this rahui is going to be very hard for so many people, but also positive in so many ways. We all have a chance to reset, rethink how things are done, and spend quality time with people we love. Technology is great for connecting, and we've been using it more to have video conference calls with whanau".

April 5, 2020

This is local artist & mum, Phoebe Gander, who’s at home with her three kids and husband who is working 4 days a week:

“I can’t really create much art right now, so I’ve focused on running a 30 day online art challenge #aprilforartists2020.

“The aim is for artists to share about themselves and their art practice by responding to daily prompts. I ran the same challenge last year - it was a great way to meet other artists and for them to gain confidence and followers too.

“I had the idea because when I first started sharing my art on social media it was really daunting - I had a lot of self doubt. This challenge helps artists to overcome those fears - they get a set list of content, the accountability encourages them to see the challenge through and they become part of a community.

“Last week I ran an art competition for children to create a ‘friendly face’ portrait on the Wainui Community Facebook page. My sons and I picked winners from four age groups, who won a small prize. I shared all the entries on the Facebook page and encouraged the children to display them in their windows so people can see their ‘friendly faces’ when they are out for a walk around the community. It was so lovely to see the amazing artworks and I had such positive feedback that I’ll be running another one this week!”

I find creating art so therapeutic but with only having a few minutes each day I was getting frustrated in my attempts to carry on with my larger artworks. So I’ve adapted my practice to more achievable small works. It’s also a perfect time to experiment with materials and colours that I’d never normally feel like using and to set up art activities with my children - we’ve had a few co-creating sessions which have been (mostly) a fun experience!”

April 7, 2020

Many of you will recognise this as the face of Smash Palace. Darryl Monteith and partner Kerry Donovan had just departed for their 5 week dream European holiday when they had to turn around & come home again because of Covid-19:

“We managed to get back to Aotearoa, have our tests done (surely the most surreal performance to ever take place on the War Memorial Theatre stage) and are negative - so that’s a huge relief. Our daughter Maia is back from Waikato Uni, our son Jackson will rejoin us now we’re clear. Our other daughter Jasmine has been our saviour with grocery shopping and cooking for our friend Moses. The hardest thing has been not cuddling our almost 2 year old moko Isla, but we’ve caught up with her now and she was too busy to cuddle much anyway.

“Kerry is working from home and Maia’s study is all online so I’m the one who’s at a loose end but have managed to write and record a song demo most days and am preparing to record a Kings of Kaiaua album later in the year. A friend of mine is running Logic Pro (recording software) workshops online via Patreon - which is a cool way to support artists - so I’ve been honing my music production skills.

“Having numerous strong-willed adults under one roof is trying at times - but self-medication seems to help. I’m trying to touch base regularly with friends and whanau who are in lockdown alone, while keeping the wheels of Smash Palace turning thanks to the wage subsidy.

“I think there will be a lot of people who won’t feel like things are back to “normal” until they can walk through those doors and breathe in the 30 years of accumulated love and creativity that makes @smashpalacebar feel like our collective home. At least I hope so anyway. It’s going to be a long slow comeback, but who knows - we may look back on this and see it as a much needed reset that reminded us all to slow down a bit”.

April 11, 2020

"We are immensely grateful to be at Tatapouri Bay during lock-down. However reuniting with Flagship’s Eggs beni and a Massage from Ora Day spa are going to be glorious days!

"Our challenge moving forward is the unknown future of tourism. We spend/support local whenever possible and operate out of an optimistic mindset rather than fear based… Not to say there won’t be tough decisions and road bumps ahead but we don’t want to sit in a pool of fear. We see ourselves as one of the more fortunate businesses, so our duty is to support those who need our Aroha.

"The silver-lining in this is that we have more time to focus on our creative endeavours and our people that remain on the grounds. We are working on a new digital platform and are using this time to design and extend our waterfront hospitality space, which will house food and drinks along with live music, events, workshops, yoga etc. So with all this time, we hope to have something really great come Summer 2020.

"Making Tatapouri Bay a destination for locals and internationals is the Dream and we welcome any ideas, collaboration & positive vibes into the process.

"We are sharing a daily sunrise clip on Instagram until lockdown ends… But as it seems to brighten up people's days we may have to continue the tradition!

"We want to give thanks for all the local love and support"

April 15, 2020

This is film maker, Michelle Fraser.

“As we entered the second week of lockdown here in Gizzy, I had something of a moment of clarity: these are completely unprecedented times for our species. Not unique, of course - pandemics have come and gone - but the lockdown scenario played out across the majority of the planet is certainly new territory for the human race.

“As a film-maker then, surely if I am ever going to document anything in my life, it should be this? We are all making the same journey, but on such different paths - in Gisborne, we’ve had three cases of Covid to date, and we look out to the rest of the world in mounting horror and trepidation about what is perhaps to come; others are experiencing the full impact of the outbreak right now. Some have had Covid and recovered. Some contemplate Covid parties to get it ‘out of the way’, while others with underlying health conditions live in constant fear knowing that it is very much a life or death situation for them.

“I am one of those who think we will come out the other side of this a changed people in many ways, living in a changed world, and I think it is very much worthwhile documenting what we are going through individually. Isolation means we can’t really understand what others in different situations and locations around the world are really going through.

“I have decided to make a documentary during the lockdown period and am looking for people who are happy to be honest and spend 2 minutes every other day talking to camera about how it is for them in lockdown”.

Anyone who is willing to video themselves talking to their phone for a couple of minutes every other day about what they’re feeling, can get in touch with Michelle at

April 16, 2020

This is Ros Faulkner from the Gisborne Volunteer Centre. After being away on sick leave for a while she is happy to be back and hearing of all the work everyone is doing to support each other. Over the past few weeks she has been in contact with community groups to see how they're all going:

“Things are pretty quiet on the volunteering front. We’ve found that organisations have been quietly and efficiently responding to community need and in some cases even anticipating it before it becomes apparent.

“Unlike many other regions where Civil Defence has called upon the community to come forward and volunteer to meet the demand, the response in Gizzy has been an organic and responsive process. Iwi groups and health providers have made up and distributed packs to those most vulnerable to Covid-19.

“Our homeless whanau have been provided for and people are spontaneously making masks and baking up a storm for those unable to shop.

“We’ve referred a number of people to Age Concern for shopping and companionship and people have been knitting bed socks for Cancer patients and other things they can do within their bubbles.

“We are trying to identify ways to support single parents with shopping and pregnant Mum's and Mum's of newborns to lighten the load on midwives - this is still developing.

“Communication has been quite slow as people adjust to working from home and others are just busy doing the mahi rather than answering emails. It seems neighbors are helping neighbors, families are helping family and there is less need for formal volunteering than in other communities. A sign of a healthy and connected community I think”.

April 17, 2020

Megan Hansen-Knarhoi is isolating at home with 3-year-old Niwhai and as they were unwell before official lockdown started, they had already been self-isolating for almost two weeks before that:

“Yesterday I had nothing. Just nothing. I stood in the sun. I sat in the sun. I lay in the sun. I've been having accidents because I'm so fatigued. I have a compromised immune system, so I’m completely reliant on others to help us.

“I’m struggling to work two hours a day, Niwhai watches movies during that time. I feel a bit guilty about it but I don’t know what else to do without being constantly interrupted. As it is, a running commentary of what's happening is the norm! Actually, I think what I’m finding hardest is the constant chatter. I’m quite sound sensitive and listening to and interpreting constant chatter is exhausting. I’m noticing I’m not understanding or hearing Niwhai as I usually do, again I think it’s fatigue.

“We’ve been squashing small invasive sucker type bug creatures on the plants whilst gardening, which Niwhai has named the Corona virus bug. It’s Niwhai’s interpretation of me trying to explain in simple terms that the virus is tiny bugs that we can't see floating around, that we’re all trying to avoid by staying home. Niwhai desperately wants to go visiting and keeps asking if the bugs are gone and if we’re well. It’s very confusing.

“My sanity is going for a daily walk. I’m loving the new friendly neighbourhood, where most people are super happy to chat. And that there are more people on the streets than cars on the roads. I love it. Not having any time pressure is wonderful, taking all the time in the world to go for a walk and watch Niwhai explore is fabulous.

“Niwhai opened my eyes up to the Walnut trees lining one of the streets in our neighbourhood, so we spent a couple of days walnut collecting. Another day it was watching the “leaf traffic” (leaves blowing along the footpath and road) and another watching Niwhai give “loveness” to trees and Praying Mantes (kisses and cuddles), yet another the hilarity of Niwhai calling out to a couple of random people “hello you silly buggers”, and to someone else “you need to put your mask on” (we haven’t worn them once the blimmin hypocrite!). We also found a skip bin full of perfectly good stuff on one of our walks. We salvaged a couple of toys and DVDs. Absolute treasure.

“I’m video calling adults, but it's not the same as being in the company of an actual adult person, which is what I need, as well as some alone time. And then there’s intimacy. Oh gosh do I crave that!

“I’ve been thinking about other sole parents, and what would help reduce their workload slightly. I’m worried about people having enough wood for heating for the winter and getting it stacked; having the lawns mowed; receiving a prepared meal - a meal I haven’t had to cook would be AMAZING!

April 20, 2020

This is the Dibble-Halley whānau. Today Harley Dibble, (Tairāwhiti Economic Action Plan Programme Manager for Trust Tairāwhiti) let's us in on how he's been going for him over lock down:

"Pretty good! My bubble includes my wife Bess, and our two sons Ralph (4) and Louis (2) – I’ve loved the extra time with the family and my appreciation for Bess and what she does with the kids has been reinforced.

"Working from home has been good – once I got my workspace properly set up – and I realised that my brain sometimes needs a bit of time to adjust / jump between work stuff and ‘being present’ with my family. The commute time between the sleepout and the house is short!

"I‘ve missed a bit of the banter at work but connecting with the team via zoom has been mostly productive and fun. I’ve liked being able to turn off my face in meetings/webinars etc – which is harder to do around a table.

"There has been increased family time for walks, bike rides, reading books, baking, gardening, hide and seek, playing with matches etc.. which has been great. But I know the kids have also struggled with the social distancing from friends and in particular their Aunties and Grandparents.

"We also had some trouble in the bubble last week when Ralph slipped off the tramp and needed a trip to A&E. I stayed in hospital overnight with Ralph because he needed surgery to wire his broken elbow back together. He was back to full throttle the following day. Jacinda’s not mentioned anything about trampolines…

"I’ve been loving the discussions online about the opportunity for a reset and the ‘new normals’ we should to be working towards. Especially the increasing recognition that to bounce back from COVID-19 in a just and sustainable way, means also responding to the global ecological and climate crisis.

"The lockdown has helped me realise that I want to work from home more often and spend more time with family and friends. I also want to be doing more to improve biodiversity outcomes in the region and to support an inclusive, low emissions and circular based economic recovery in Tairāwhiti".

To keep up with ideas around moving forward in a sustainable and just manner especially as they relate to the Tairāwhiti, check out and follow this page: Towards Tairāwhiti Bioregion and the Circular Economy

April 22, 2020

This is Lena Bevan and her bubble. Lena works for Sport Gisborne-Tairāwhiti and the Chamber of Commerce. One of the things she has been thinking a lot about during these times of isolation is Play:

“As a whanau unit, we are trying to keep a balance with work and family life: my partner is an essential worker, and we have our two children at home. We are all very accessible online so work feels even busier, it’s hard to keep up at times.

“We understand that people are in different situations facing different challenges. As a whanau we encourage mindful appreciation of where we are as a community and a nation, often reflecting on how others may be coping. It’s important to us to maintain positive engagement with our neighbours with a friendly wave, happy smile, check-in conversations and a bit of banter.

“All in all, we are really enjoying this quiet, low-fuss time together. Our children are particularly loving lockdown bubble life. In my earlier career I was a teacher and value holistic learning. To keep a balance we have a rather sporadic routine which includes some form of outdoor physical activity, a school-based task, and lots of play.

“In fact play is incorporated in all that we do, it also means we hide the devices when the ‘I’m just checking something’ goes beyond a joke.

“We love our family bike rides, we let each child take turns to lead, helping out around the house is enjoyed with music and dance, cooking and baking in the kitchen is steered by the kids with a lot of playful experimentation. Play should be fun and child-led with limited or no adult involvement!”

In last week's Weekly Roundabout, we asked our subscribers how they were going and got this thoughtful response back from Janine Hamilton-Kells:

"I swing between having a million to-do projects I want to get started on, to finding it hard to settle on anything. I find myself stretching out simple routines, drinking my daily coffee while sitting on the deck and throwing the tennis ball for my dog - I think she may be wearing a groove in the path.

"Online learning with my son has been really cool, some days we are really into it, but I'm wary of setting a pace we can't maintain. While I enjoy the community of sharing around the learning I'm mindful of unwittingly entering into some kind of competition of the 'cool things' we are doing and putting pressure on teachers and other parents. Some days we don’t achieve anything. My teenage son for example has a complete absence of any circadian rhythms.

"I am doing lots of writing. I am also not doing as much writing as I thought I would. Working and parenting and the added time everything takes are a juggle. My phone tells me my social media use has increased, even though people seem to be trying to make me to do math on there, which is a kind of Facebook aversion therapy for me —still the social snacking is addictive.

"My overall emotion in the first couple of weeks was of feeling so very privileged to be isolating in a home, community and country where I feel safe and have all of my needs met. I get teary when Jacinda talks of being a team of five million. Since the talk of moving to Level Three I feel a yearning for more freedom, social gatherings, pub choir, Zumba, walking with a friend and not queuing. If only I had some IT skills I could make a youthful neck filter for Zoom meetings and make millions for charity.

"Most of all I miss my daughter and granddaughter that are not in my bubble. A month is seven years in Nan years!"

April 23, 2020

This Sally Shanks, the owner of our beloved Dome Bar and Cinema , one of the shining jewels in Gisborne’s cultural crown. These are deeply difficult days for the Dome, named a few years ago “one of the best dine-in cinemas in the world”. Sally talked to us about how she’s going:

“I’ve got [daughter] Lily home thank god and she has been amazing. I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t had her here. We’re just trying to keep busy. We go for a walk every day and we’re getting through a list of things around the house that I’ve been meaning to do forever. We usually have bubbles around 2pm and we’re making some amazing food. We haven’t watched any TV at all.

“[Son] Jack is at his place with his flatmates so we’ve thrown a few things over his fence to him, like an avocado tree, and we hung an Easter bunny from a bit of wire on a stick and made it dance along the fence. We’ve been doing things like that, just trying to be good people, you know..

“As for the Dome, well, I really don’t know - we can’t go for too much longer like this. I just don’t really know what to do, even when we get back on our feet I’m not sure people will be going out much.

“I have got a few ideas. I’ve been onto my favourite out-of-town bands about being ready to come when we open again so that we can kick off with some great live music from both local and out-of-town bands. I’ve also been thinking about weekly record evenings in the bar and limiting our dining to 25 people or so. We’ve also been in touch with the distributors to ask them for some light-hearted movies when we return!

“I get the feeling that people’s hearts are in their mouth about the Dome [surviving this]. I think it’s one of the worst thing that could happen for Gisborne to lose this cute, quirky, independent, Sweet As venue and cinema of ours, because it does feel like all of ours”.

April 27, 2020

Christine and Thomas Boyce: On the day when Gizzy Local puts out a list of the local eateries opening for Level 3, we say ‘Hi’ to the Boyces - the family behind one of our favourite restaurants, USSCo - which isn’t going to be opening just yet. Christine, also on the Comms team at the GDC, talks us through that decision and reflects on their lockdown times together:

“We’re doing all good in the lockdown! Our kids are happy and loving their time together and with us. They’ve insisted on all sleeping in the same room since lockdown started - it’s been about 65/35 bliss and carnage. I'm also working from home, and we're homeschooling so it’s a juggle, but the schooling aspect has been really good to bring back some structure and routine.

“This is the most time Tom has ever had off from the restaurant and without a lockdown it probably wouldn’t have ever happened.

We’ve been thinking about what we need to be happy and it turns out it’s not a lot. We also spent probably too much time coming up with ways we could viably open in some small capacity in level 3 but decided against it.

“So much of what USSCo is valued for comes down to our team, our space and the whole experience. It’s so good to go out, get looked after and not have to cook or clean up!

“The uncertainty of the world is scary, as is not knowing how business will be for restaurants after this waiting room period is over. Business is always a running battle but this will be the biggest challenge yet, for all of us.

“We will be incredibly grateful to reopen the restaurant when it’s safe for our staff and our customers.

“It will be a bit different to before, but in a good way. We’re excited for some change and have a plan. We really, really hope that when we reopen people will come out! There are lots of amazing, locally-owned hospitality businesses in Gisborne and we’ll need all the support we can get”.

April 28, 2020

This is Whyte Trashe, who managed to fit a little art and activism into lockdown before heading back out to work today:

How do I feel about the lockdown? I’d say that’s too long an answer for a post on social media so let’s just say, Lucky. Lucky for the timing, lucky for my lifestyle and lucky to be where we are in the world.

As a beekeeper, I was considered an essential worker. However, due to the honey harvest being complete, the decision was made by the team to put work on hold. I was relieved by this decision as I felt staying at home was best for the community until the spread of the virus was more contained.

During the lockdown, I took the opportunity to participate in ‘HOME’, the first stay-at-home mural festival for the planet. Organised by Pangeaseed in association with Seawalls, Whanganui Walls and Alternative Arts Initiative. They are responsible for some of the murals around Tairāwhiti last year.

My piece aims to reference the inability to laybuy a future (a stable economy won’t fix extinction). It was awesome to get back into focusing on art, without too many external distractions. I also feel lucky that my wife had started her virtual administration business last year. It has allowed her to work from home, and thankfully, she had clients that were able to keep her on during this unsettled time.

Level three sees me out preparing the bees for winter. The saddest part of leaving lockdown is having less time to paint. Although I have kind of run out of walls in our tiny house anyway!

April 29, 2020

This is Morgan Ngata, he's been at home with his wife, their 15-year old daughter, 16-year old son and kuri Mojo:

"Ko Hikurangi te maunga, Ko Waiapu te awa, Ko Horouta te waka, Ko Ngati Porou te iwi, Ko Ngata te whānau, Ko Morgan toku ingoa.

"We’ve been really trying to stay true to life at level 4. We’ve been using the term rāhui when we talk about the lockdown or isolation. According to the Māori dictionary a Rāhui is:

a temporary ritual prohibition, closed season, ban, reserve - traditionally a rāhui was placed on an area, resource or stretch of water as a conservation measure or as a means of social and political control for a variety of reasons, which can be grouped into three main categories: pollution by tapu, conservation and politics. After an agreed lapse of time, the rāhui is lifted".

"Personally I think this was an important decision to make because it helped to frame my understanding of what we are trying to achieve during this strange time. This is about protecting our whanau, our communities, our taonga.

"This rāhui has forced us to connect with interests that have been lost in busy modern day living. Clearing up the shed to get back into a regular exercise routine, get our neglected garden weeded, turned over and planted up. Cooking up Feijoa chutney and Feijoa skin jam. This time has been more about reconnecting than isolation. Reconnection of values, ideas, skills and dreams I had put to the side.

"For the first time in a long while, I began to feel that our whare was a foundation of sorts. Not just a place that we used between work and play but a place of safety and providence. It gave me a sense of control. I had no idea what was happening day by day out in the wider world but we knew what was happening in our whare.

"The mental challenges are real and they are different for all of us. Personally, I have been down for a while because of work and life pressures. As a result, I had stopped my regular exercise routines at the gym. At first, I didn’t see the online fitness programs being something I’d use. But by the first week, I was into it every day and after 4 weeks I’m beginning to really feel more positive physically and mentally. Challenging my mental state by going a bit further and a bit harder in my exercises seems to do the trick. It’s the best way to realise that I am always much more capable than what I give myself credit for. I’ve just started the 25 push-ups for 25 days challenge to raise awareness for mental health, PTSD, depression and anxiety.

"If you're feeling low in lockdown take a walk, call a friend or family member, meditate, exercise, or do something that brings you joy. I’m on day 7 and are beginning to see mates of mine picking up the challenge as well. Friends reconnecting in new ways.

"This was about reconnection to move forward into a positive future. Kia kaha… we got this".

April 30, 2020

This is Tim Marshall, who has insights to share from both his own bubble as well as other whānau he has remained connected to during these times, through his mahi with Tauawhi Men's Centre:

"I’m going pretty well thanks. I have a lot of things to be thankful for, particularly with my whānau bubble that includes my partner, our two daughters, my son-in-law and one of our mokos. That has been a real bonus for us and also the fact that our other moko and his mum and dad stay just around the corner. I am also grateful that I have also been able to continue to work from home and maintained a positive connection with my work teams and others.

"I think the lockdown or rāhui period has seen both challenges and opportunities, apart from the whānau connection and ability to do some jobs around the house. The obvious challenges for many of us are around the impact on employment and finances for many people whose work has been directly or indirectly affected. For some whānau we also know that holding things together when we are around each other more than usual, brings with it some challenge.

"One activity we have been involved with from Tauawhi, in partnership with the Gisborne Herald offering tips to stay safe, with members of our team sharing ideas on maintaining whānau wellbeing and staying safe. We have also been trialling some of our services online, including our weekly men’s group and we've discussed how we might continue this in some way to increase access, particularly to those who may have travel and transport barriers.

"I have been hugely impressed with how the Iwi-led response has mobilised to connect and support whānau, in particular pakeke and those most vulnerable. Also our essential workforce, in particular our Supermarket teams, who have kept things running for us all, despite the risk to themselves at times. I know that kai and food parcels have been the most regular response and with such things as Gizzy School lunches and other support usually provided to education facilities, this has no doubt increased pressure on whānau, who have needed to provide this from their own resources.

"We have been blessed with beautiful weather during this time and seeing whānau out and about making the most of it has been pretty cool. I think this time has also allowed us to consider what is important and how much of our experience we can learn from and continue to maintain, particularly around the messages of being kind and staying connected".

May 1, 2020

This is Tessa Beattie, the force behind Dancefit Studios Limited:

"We have loved the forced rest in lockdown - but now our timeline has come to an end it's time to pick up our feet again. Dancefit has chosen to temporarily project lessons online - this has proved to be time consuming, physically exhausting and internet draining!

"We have joked I've become the "Suzy Cato of Dance" - the delivery of this feels so unnatural and as teachers we are feeling vulnerable. However we know the kids will love to see us again in the virtual world and be eager for new routines and choreography.

"We have experienced significant financial loss - and will continue to for months on end. We have been extremely humbled by the messages and support of those who have committed to see it through with us. It’s simply a small speed bump in our calendar. For lots, Dancefit Studios is their happy place, their sport and their space to create. They feel a sense of belonging. Our drive is to continue to embrace our local community and keep their love of dance and musicality alive.

"Creating parent facebook groups has kept everyone connected - some families send in their TikTok videos for a laugh and everyone shares their child's dance practice to keep momentum. We've even seen a few of the dad's moves appear!

"We are itching to reconnect in our busy, loud, fun environment as soon as we can. The camaraderie is huge".

May 2, 2020

Lock down was and still is a mixed blessing for me.

When it became clear that travel restrictions would come into place I was in Wellington for work. The country started to panic and I decided to head for home and my family. For some reason Gizzy feels safe even when things are tumbling down around us.

To get home meant a long drive. I had booked an Air B'n'B who cancelled on me at 8pm at night leaving me stranded on the side of the road with no accommodation. There was no other vacancies I could find but luckily I keep a hammock and sleeping bag in the truck so pitched this in a highway picnic area and had a relatively good nights sleep.

The service stations were taking peoples wallets as collateral while we filled up with gas, there was no stock on shelves at the supermarkets and people had a panicked look in their eyes. It really felt like the apocalypse was coming at that stage. The worst part of humanity was coming out in our communities.

As I travelled up the country however people were becoming more and more relaxed and finally, as I pulled into little old Gizzy, it was almost like things were fine again.

I managed to score a deer on the mates’ farm, family gave us flour, we were trading fruit and veg over the fence with the neighbours and we even managed to buy some extra chickens from a friendly local.

Preparing for the apocalypse definitely had a friendlier face in Gizzy.

Lock down itself has been pretty good for our little family. My work hours and salary have been cut down to 80% which means I get Fridays off and with nothing open we aren't spending as much money. I also can't travel for work which is awesome, we have been spending lots of great family time in the garden and foraging for mushrooms on our daily exercise walks.

All my coping mechanisms for stress were thrown out the window so the first few weeks were pretty intense, no surfing, no hunting, no fishing and for someone who is used to travelling for work a slower pace was definitely hard to get used to.

With uncertainty surrounding work and the very real possibility that I would become unemployed the first few weeks were hard. It was like being cooped up with nowhere to escape to, nowhere to relax. But after a time we became used to a smaller existence. We found different ways to escape and relax.

There were definitely times where we broke level 4 rules. I would often drive to different beaches or reserves to take the dog and my son for a walk. At the time it was key to our mental health to get a change of scene. We all needed it and we really craved nature, the bush, the birds and the ocean.

It was shocking to realise that we don’t have an abundance of nature in our neighbourhoods and as a bushman it’s incredibly scary to be told by the Government that we cannot access our wild places. I absolutely support the decisions made by the Government to make the restrictions they did but at times for me it wasn't possible to adhere to them.

Moving into level 3 I’ve been excited we can surf, hunt and fish again. My work situation is stable. We don't look like coming off 80% employment any time soon but that’s actually amazing, I love three-day weekends.

Hopefully we can take the positives from this as a country. We have new coping mechanisms, we are used to a slower pace of life and our communities are stronger for Level 4. It’s been an awesome opportunity to come together as a community and as families and have the time to do things together again, to garden, do craft and DIY projects and cook good food.

May 6, 2020

This is Wade Brunt who talked to us about what he did and didn't change as everything changed around us at the end of March 2020:

“Before lock down I’d been very busy with my new job with Safetree in a new 12-month pilot role Toroawhi to engage and support Forestry workers to get more involved in health and safety decision making. We were training for our annual Jogging for Logging relay run to Tolaga bay and were setting up the wellness centre. It was a big high for us to get our run to Tolaga bay in the week before lock down.

"I’d had mates lose jobs in February. So by lockdown they were very stressed and bored.

"I could see a lot of our guys were shy and didn’t interact much on the public pages already set up, so I set up private groups and group messenger so we could check in on each other there.

"Safetree made a video series with Pio Tirei called ‘stay well while you stay home’ to support forestry workers. The first one was around making a plan in your bubble and creating safe zones within your bubble for everyone in it. He talked about families who might not have been home together like that ever - forestry workers are usually out the door at 4am and back at 5pm - the dynamics all change.

"Every second day I’d post an exercise video that could be done using stuff from around home - one day it was with the lawnmower and tackling the weeds, another day going for a bike ride with the kids. We also used videos from Dr Tom Mulholland who does a lot of stuff around mental health - healthy thinking, the importance of exercise to stimulate endorphins, which make you feel good. That kind of thing.

"After posting a few of the exercise videos some of the guys said they’d like to work out together online, so we started messenger group work outs, one at 7am and another at 5:30pm. I’d talk them through a 15-minute workout - not long, just enough to create a routine and then we’d have a chat.

"I’m the first one to share about any topic, which helps to normalise things.

"My children’s mother and I were set for a child custody hearing the day after we went into lock down but this virus is bigger than all of us and whatever is going on between us has to be put aside to put the children first and protect our bubbles. So that was nice to be working together, that’s the silver lining for me, coming to resolution.

"It was great that we could keep our 50/50 custody through lock down and when the kids were with me we kept our usual morning routine up, out the door in the mornings, for a walk or a bike ride, lots of fresh air and now we just add in a bit of school work. Having a good routine has really helped in our bubble.

"Its a big relief coming to Level 3, the majority of the guys i work with are back at work and very happy about it. And I'm looking forward to getting back out there supporting them when we come down to Level 2".

To check out the resources Wade talks about here check out his Jogging for Logging Facebook group.

May 9, 2020

This is Flo Bub. Through his role in the Gisborne Boardriders Flo demonstrated super positive and proactive leadership in encouraging our surfing community to stay out of the water during lock down, but managing all the while to keep the good vibes flowing. Well done Flo.

"I have been doing well, thanks. Can’t imagine a better place to live during these challenging times. We are lucky to have everything we need and to call this beautiful place our home. Although the challenges are real, the opportunities are endless too. It all depends on your perspective. At least for the ones of us who are lucky to have got all their basic needs covered. It’s awesome to see how the whole community helps together.

"I guess we're all facing challenges during these times. I have seen it as a character-building exercise instead of looking at what we currently can’t do or what might be annoying me. I was given time to reflect, plan, learn plenty of new things, to really discover online-learning and exercise, and spend time with my loved ones and reconnect with old friends. Also focusing on the little things and learning what’s important for me. Also, great to see all the people supporting one another and standing together as a community for the most part.

"Every crisis has its opportunity. It’s always a matter of what we make of our time. I learned that I need less than I thought to be happy. I also learned that it’s important to have empathy for another as we never know the other person’s situation.

"The online experience has been amazing and works so well. We - Gisborne Boardriders - have just created a new Podcast Show called “The Longboard House” talking all things longboarding with our best surfers. I am looking forward to that kicking off this Friday 6pm. I am also enjoying every minute in the water even more after not surfing for a while".

"Stay safe and positive whanau. Yeeew".

May 11, 2020

Kirsten Barrett: "Lockdown has been a special time to bond with my family and has enabled quality time to be spent. Lockdown has also made my girls and I truly appreciate my Mum and dad and how much they do for us. I am living with my parents while our house is being built so I was a little worried about invading my parent’s privacy. However, this time has been lovely. We’ve watched movies together, gone on long walks and shared lots of laughs.

"My daughters, Maeve and Keira have reconnected. With Maeve at university, their relationship wasn’t as strong as it used to be. During lockdown, it has been neat to see them getting along and laughing together.

"This time has provided me with motivation to begin walking and cooking again. I’ve been learning a few delicious recipes from Nadia Lim and my mum is an impressive cook and has inspired me to be more adventurous.

"It’s been lovely to see others enjoying exercise too and everyone is so friendly, I’ve found myself even more proud to live in Gizzy. Our community has all come together and been respectful of keeping safe to save lives. There is definitely a sense of connectedness. It has also been eye-opening to see changes for the better in our environment.

"In the beginning of lockdown I was a little anxious about Covid 19 and worried for my mum and dad as they are in their 70s. Going to the supermarket was interesting and a little nerve-wracking to begin with. I found it surreal and scary seeing people wearing masks and things..

"At first, my motivation levels were down and there was this small feeling of doom and gloom. I’ve missed being able to sit in the same room and spend quality time with my sister and her family, and my partner, Scott. I’m really missing my class, Room 19, at Mangapapa School - our face to face contact and learning together. However, I am so proud of how our Mangapapa whanau have taken up the challenge and are thriving.

"I must admit, it was so exciting to see how many cafes and workplaces were opening up again on Gizzy Local. It made me feel like there was some light at the end of the tunnel. I no longer feel so anxious and gloomy about the future.

"Going forward, I will make a more conscious effort to spend quality time with family and friends and make the most of the new walkways and attractions in Tairawhiti that I haven’t utilised before. I will also stop and appreciate the wonders of nature all around us more than I did before. The sound of birds singing in the trees during lockdown has been so calming".

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