And That World Is Gone: A Reflection on Lockdown
As the sun sets on our nationwide rāhui and we wake up in the new lights of alert level two, then eventually one, I hope that we remember and grow from our experiences.
New hobbies have been acquired, old hobbies have thrived, and we’ve realised the importance of human contact and connection in our lives. With so much time for reflection and feelings of nostalgia, thinking can either motivate or deflate a person – sometimes, both. For some, our hauora has flourished at times on our long scenic walks, laughing with those in our mirumiru, engaging in meaningful zoom classes, reading, and drawing, and cooking, and singing. No doubt we’ve also had days where getting out of bed was the ultimate struggle – rather just watch Netflix, avoiding the 1pm update because the anxiety is too much. Our hauora has followed a nonlinear path during this rāhui.
The first pandemic in history where social media floods the global north, we’ve been the audience for those showing off their home gyms, promoting Arbonne, making podcasts – flooded, as always, with images and videos of how productive we should be during this time. I vividly remember seeing an influx of posts in the first week of alert level four, claiming if we don’t come out of quarantine having made quantifiable progress, that “it isn’t time [we] lacked, it was discipline.” I’d like to take a moment to remind everyone that making it to the other side of a global pandemic alive is a luxury that 21 of our kaumatua did not have – a privilege not extended to over 280,000 people worldwide, who have passed due to COVID-19. Some days I handed in three assignments and others, the biggest thing I did was hug my māmā and watch a movie (probably Twilight) with her. I’m proud of myself for every single day I’ve made through our nationwide rāhui because, while my taha tinana benefitted from me sticking to the confines of my mirumiru, so did the collective hauora of Aotearoa. For all the efforts we’ve made tauira mā, we should all be proud of ourselves and each other.
We must keep in mind the people for whom this rāhui has been a mental, physical and/or spiritual burden. Our Muslim whānau have been observing Ramadan without mass-prayer, and Iftar has looked different for some. Sometimes the four walls of home is the most volatile space imaginable and, other times, it’s the confines of the mind. We’ve had an expanse of time to analyse every aspect of our lives and we’ve been without our wider communities physically. We’ve lost loved ones whose wairua has departed without tangihanga. The compromise for many of us to ensure our collective safety has been our taha hinengaro, and I’d like to let you know that it’s okay if you come out of alert levels four and three with a heart full of grief – for the lives lost, and the lives we lived in a pre-COVID-19 world. Please show some manaakitanga to those in your life, and remember how much support is around you.
Stating that we should “return to normal” feels privileged. For those whose lives have been changed due to COVID-19 through loss of livelihoods or lives, this will never be the case. Our global community is still suffering immensely and, while I’ll be the first one to give my koro a hug once it’s safe to do so - I will never forget the sacrifices we have made for one another during this time. The health professionals who treated our sick whānau, supermarket workers who ensured we were nourished, the bus drivers for mobilising other essential workers. Walking on roads to ensure 2m distance, zoom calls that lasted for hours to make the days more bearable, clapping for those who kept our country, our world, running. This display of manaaki is something we should remember forever and, while this is our version of walking over mountains and through rivers to get to school.. We should tell our future tamariki that this was the biggest display of reciprocal love we’ll ever encounter. Let’s remember that during this time we slowed down, took breaks when we needed, put all of our aroha into the kindness we gave and received – and really think about which “normal” we prefer.
Adhering to a nationwide rāhui can really make the concepts of time and personal productivity disappear. Whether you’re coming out of these higher alert levels with a finished thesis, a few more kgs than before, more mātauranga Māori, or exactly the same of everything you had going in – if you are here, you did not waste anything. In the words of Jenny Jaffe:
"You're only being unproductive by the standards of the world that we lived in  month[s] ago, and that world is gone."
Kia pai te hauora e hoa mā!
Ngā manaakitanga x
Te Parerē Kaiwāwāhi Hauora