You will notice that this newsletter looks a little different to normal and I’m sure you can guess why.
Covid-19 has upended our world and all the ‘normals’ have gone out the window.
Regular readers will know that my newsletter is usually full of articles about what I’ve been doing in and around the electorate; who I’ve met with, the events I’ve attended and the businesses I have visited.
But like you, I am now well ensconced in my ‘bubble’. The car is parked up and my travel bag is in the cupboard. Despite this, I want you to know that my door remains open (in a virtual sense!). Thanks to modern technology, I can still communicate with people from around the electorate, with colleagues and officials.
I’m receiving messages every day through my office phone line, email and Facebook page. People around the electorate are doing it tough, they’re worried about their health, their finances and the struggles of those around them.
A lot of queries have been around an individual’s personal circumstances, the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), access to COVID-19 tests, flu jabs and rules around what can and cannot be done during the lockdown period as well as suggestions of how support can be offered to those who are at-risk or vulnerable.
People are seeking clarity and support. Where possible, I’m responding with an answer to their question, directing them to where information is publically available and where things have fallen through the cracks I’ve been advocating on their behalf with officials.
I want to take this opportunity to share some practical information and also acknowledge some of the remarkable things that are happening around the electorate. Even on the darkest days there are people who shine a kind light on those around them and we need plenty of that at the moment.
Finally, if you need me I am here. I will do everything in my power to champion the cause of local people and local businesses as we battle our way through this and work together to save lives.
How can we support our local businesses?
Many local businesses are struggling to survive. One way you can support them is by buying a gift voucher from them for someone special. It’s a lovely gesture for the recipient and provides local businesses with much needed cash flow. Many local café’s have registered through soscafe.nz
A pop of positivity
I visited Desiree and the team at Cardrona Distillery last year. It’s a wonderful family run business and I was impressed (but not surprised) by their offer of free hand sanitizer to locals who need it.
We humans are social creatures and The Prince Albert in Wanaka has come up with a clever idea to keep their regulars connected. They’ve moved their weekly quiz night online, something I suspect could be a highlight on many social calendars in the coming weeks.
Bringing out the books
Geraldine’s new bookshop The Page and Post Booksellers has been offering a daily story time session through its Facebook page. Cromwell Community Board Chair and Goldfields School Principal Anna Harrison has done something similar by reading children’s books and posting the videos on YouTube.
Whitestone Taxis have offered to deliver Meals on Wheels to people in Oamaru without taking payment from Waitaki District Health Services. This news left me in no doubt that there are some absolute gems in this electorate. What a kind and generous offer.
Frontline supermarket staff all deserve a round of applause at the moment but I’d like to give a special mention the owner-operators of supermarkets in our small towns who are going above and beyond in taking orders and delivering groceries to those who need it. I started to compile a list of the towns where this is happening and it just got too long – a wonderful reflection of community spirit.
Here’s a quote from the Waitaki District Libraries website that couldn’t be more appropriate in times like these:
"Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries." ~ Anne Herbert
Their buildings may be closed but libraries are still there for you either on the phone, via email or social media, and you get your good reads using the digital platform.
If you’d like to share any other examples with me, please send me an email or tag me through Facebook, I’d love to see what else is going on around the region.
EASTER EVENTS CANCELLED
In these tough times, I’m really feeling for the organisers of major events, both local and national, who have had to cancel because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In Waitaki, the crisis began to make its presence felt with the cancellation of the Harbour Street Jazz & Blues Festival in March, a few days before the lockdown began on March 25.
And the Level 4 restrictions have meant the cancellation of iconic Easter events, including Warbirds Over Wanaka, the Nasa balloon launch, the Great Easter Bunny Hunt at Alexandra (postponed to Queen’s Birthday Weekend) and the Clyde Wine and Food Harvest Festival. The New Zealand Pony Club champs that were to be held a few days after Easter at Cromwell, are also off. Very disappointing for everyone and the local economy.
However, some great resilience has been shown by our youth to help celebrate Easter and to keep up a strong sense of community wellbeing.
Virtual Easter egg hunt
On Sunday, the Cromwell Youth Trust launched a virtual Easter egg hunt competition. Instead of laying an egg trail, they’re inviting us to dust off our artistic skills and get out pens, paper, paint and glitter to make our own Easter egg designs. The artworks will get put in windows, or appropriate places where they can be seen, so people can find them on their daily walks. The eggs will be keeping the bears company!
For more details visit: https://www.cromwellyouthtrust.co.nz
The event runs until April 12 – that’s Easter Sunday. It's well supported by local businesses, most of whom have had to close in the lockdown, so a big pat on the back to them too. They’ve helped give us all something to smile about.
And in the lead up to Easter, good on our region’s young people for taking on other wellbeing initiatives, especially Central Otago District Council cadet Morgan who has come up with an online check-in space for the 20-29 year old age group who may be going a little stir crazy as we complete the first two weeks lockdown. This gives them a place to vent and share by posting on the Facebook page. By the way, ‘Harry’ is Morgan’s pug-cross Harry Potter, who apparently works his own brand of chill-out magic, to encourage everyone to stay home and save lives.
Pointing you in the right direction:
For all things relating to COVID-19 please go to https://covid19.govt.nz .
For guidance on immigration issues go to https://www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/covid-19
Anyone who needs assistance in relation to emergency food, household goods/services or any other welfare-type requests call:
Waitaki and Otago 0800 322 4000.
Mackenzie and Geraldine Districts 0800 24 24 11
Queenstown Lakes 0800 322 4000
Covid Help Centre
A regional COVID-19 help centre has been set up for Otago and will operate 7am to 7pm, 7 days a week to receive requests for welfare assistance.
Anyone requiring welfare support should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 322 4000 this will be directed to one of our local team for response.
I hope you are all getting used to this new normal in your "bubbles".