Let’s not put too fine a point on it: for the past five weeks we’ve been living in the middle of a crisis of unknown magnitude. It’s been a time of unprecedented change and for many it will have been an intense period of worry and anxiety.
But however much lockdown might have separated us, it has also brought us together as families and communities united in fighting a common threat.
It has been heart-warming to witness the commitment our local communities have made to helping their most vulnerable members. As an electorate MP, I’m proud of the community groups in my electorate who have come together and worked to make lockdown easier for those who can’t help themselves.
It’s been wonderful to see the caring, the helpful and the kind swing into action. The volunteers who’ve shopped in the supermarket for those who can’t, or those who’ve helped put together hundreds of food parcels for families struggling to cope. Those on calling lists who’ve been making regular phone calls to check on our most vulnerable. The local growers who have offered free produce, even though many are struggling to find people to look after the crops and harvest them when ready. The incredible group of six volunteers who worked long days using 3D printers to produce and distribute more than 1000 face shields to local health workers, all at their own expense. Our health and emergency services people have been outstanding as have those looking after people in retirement villages and rest-homes.
It was also fantastic to see the number of people who stood at dawn to commemorate Anzac Day; to see the poppies created by children and adults decorating windows, fences and gates, and the wonderful floral tributes from Blooming Hill Flowers at the centotaphs in Pukekohe, Waiuku and Tuakau. The spirit of the Anzacs is part of our national heritage and that spirit has helped us through the past five weeks. I’m certain it will help us through the coming weeks and months.
We should not underestimate the difficulties confronting some Kiwi families. There will be hard times for many as we start to rebuild and get our workplaces, businesses and key industries up and running. We face a different challenge now. Just as we asked how to help our most medically vulnerable, we now need to ask how we assist the most economically vulnerable. Those whose lives and livelihoods depend on us buying local goods and services.
I urge you all to support our local businesses as they come to terms with the new “normal” and try to get up and running again. Opportunity and innovation often come out of adversity and I’ve been impressed and heartened to see on social media how quickly our local businesses are learning new ways of working. They deserve our support. If you have a favourite café or restaurant or shop, check their website or Facebook page to see what services they’re offering as we move through Level 3. Support them if you can. We will need those businesses around us when we eventually come through this crisis. They are the lifeblood of our communities and they need our help to survive, to keep people employed and our communities thriving.
Even in the middle of the most difficult challenges, we can help create positive outcomes by working together as a community. Now is one of those times.