Takapau, Aotearoa New Zealand
April 2021 – looking back at March 2020


I’m reading my diary. The date at the top of the page reads ‘21 March 2020’ and it begins…


Saturday 21 March 2020

‘I’m grateful for my house.’

‘I wrote the address out like you write an address on a letter or an envelope. It’s important. It’s not fleeting. It feels safe. A sanctuary. I often think Winston Churchill found his sanctuary after years of personal, political, global involvement – he ended up painting and living in his home he called his ‘sanctuary’.’

‘I’m grateful for my husband B. And my son W. My daughters L and A. And my friends M, T, and G. These people sustain and cherish me and I them. Also, my niece A who is like a daughter to me. They are kindred.’

‘I’m grateful to have a bed and pillow, shoes and food. A chair and clothes. I’m grateful to my creative teachers. Omg below is NON-FICTION but true…!’

‘The novel Coronavirus – Covid-19 – has hit the earth, centred at Wuhan China. It kills people by introducing respiratory problems such as pneumonia. People die because their lungs fill up and they can’t breathe. Ventilators are the new life-saving apparatus that is (sic) in short supply worldwide.’

‘The disease has infected over 200,000 officially worldwide with 10,000 deaths. 3500 in China; 4035 in Italy alone. Health systems are overwhelmed in many countries and there are not enough intensive care units (ICU) beds to provide the respiratory care through ventilators – In NZ, I heard they have 220 ventilators nationwide and the hospitals are gearing up to use operating theatres and freeing up the anaesthetic breathing equipment as replacement ventilators.’

‘Currently, New Zealand has closed our national borders to any non-residents. This and other measures did not suddenly come into force, the measures have increased over the past 4-6 weeks as the virus spread around the world and became more and more serious, and infected and killed more people. “Business as usual” was the catch phrase for a couple of weeks in NZ – but the seriousness of the infections and the death rate in countries that have not taken the threat seriously enough has meant uh-uh, we need to sit up and take note.’

‘* 275570 cases’
‘11388 deaths’
‘Recovered 91533’

‘The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made an announcement on TV One at midday – a state of the nation address. The first direct to the nation rather than via media. NZ has now 53 confirmed cases.’

‘Death rate (risk) for me is 1.3% but my hypertension increases it to 8.4%. My husband is 3.6% but his risk increases to 13.2% for cardiovascular comorbidity! EEK!’

‘The advice the PM gave today is for +70yos to stay at home. Cold or flu symptoms means you stay home away from people and keep safe. Schools are open at present.’

‘I watched a YouTube (Internet Application) video from people in Italy. They are saying that it only took 10 days to go from quite blasé about Covid-19, to almost 4500 people dying – with 627 deaths in just one day. Oh my god.’

‘In Aotearoa NZ there is panic buying in the supermarkets. Toilet paper is becoming an item to fight over! Rice, flour, hand sanitiser, cans of corn, bread, milk powder… the public are panicking – but they/we are also nervous and getting prepared.’

‘Part of the message from the Government is to ensure we are looking after others. This is great – but you can’t blame a society for looking after themselves after 50 years – well at least 40 of a neo-liberal agenda to look after #1. Numero Uno. We can’t expect behaviour to change when we teach society to look after yourself; take responsibility for yourself and your own family, and there is no collective, there are only individuals.’

‘I read an article about an 89yo who lived through the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1916-18, and subsequent years of polio epidemic and scares. Also she lived though world wars and food shortages. She said there were school closures and no community swimming. Those generations experienced hardship and were used to taking drastic measures in crisis. (Why are people calling for schools to remain open? And swimming pools! Who cares. People’s lives are at risk!). According to this lady, Western society has had decades of peace and health – we became complacent.’

‘This sounds like a movie – but it’s very real.’

‘Our son loves Tuvan throat singing J he listens to their Mongolian music and tells us that human beings should have stopped evolving at the cave-man stage – that would solve all the environmental issues, financial issues and also would equal no school. Ha ha. I said even cave-kids learned about sh*t. But I guess it was relevant to their survival – not the crap maths they teach these days he he.’

‘Hermann our tortoise is hiding under a piece of corrugated iron in the fenced off garden bit (it used to be our chook run) man wish we still had chickens and our own eggs 😤.’


Friday 27 March 2020

‘On Monday 22 March PM Jacinda put the country onto Level 3 and then in 48 hours later we went to Level 4 – a total “Lock Down” of NZ.’

‘People must stay home in their “bubble” – only essential services to be open – hospitals, supermarkets, service stations, food supply.’

‘This is momentous. From Wed 25 March 11.59pm a Civil Defence Emergency was called 6.30pm – we got a blaring note on our mobile phones. We are in shutdown; lockdown.’

‘Harvard University is putting up its most popular lecture for FREE! J I’m going to sign up.’

‘B. has made meatloaf and it’s PRIMO! W. made bread from scratch – what a ST*R both my son and husband are! Squirt, our dog, has itches from the dry grass in the drought – we’ve had ½ day of rain today – the first since January 2020!!’

‘We went for a walk close at the Golf Course which was fantastic. I think we can go walking? I’m sure we can take some exercise, but actually from now on we must be at home, and if out, remain 2m away from anyone else.’

‘NZ now has 368 cases. One person in Nelson Intensive Care Unit ICU. Eight in hospital. No death.’

‘Director General of Health Dr (Mr?) Ashley Bloomfield is also a person of note. He has fronted this situation with the Govt, the PM and Civil Defence. He is calm, informative, real, doesn’t hold back, and doesn’t go OTT. I heard he was from Onga Onga? We are so lucky to have these people at the helm.’

‘The absolute tragedy of the coronavirus is Italy 😢😭😢, apart from China. Italy deaths are 8215! With cases reaching 80,589. China had 81340 cases and 3292 deaths. Total cases worldwide are 533,015 and deaths are 24,095. Recovered are 124,387. Spain 57786 cases – 4365 deaths.’

‘USA – 85604 cases – 1301 deaths.’

‘My writing course is continuing via ZOOM – an application platform online. 12 of us can go online at the same time and talk about our stuff. It’s so cool! Our professor has given me some advice – “it’s your words – write what only you can write”.’


Thursday, 2 April 2020

‘In 6 days the number of cases worldwide has doubled – 938,348!! Deaths 47286. Recovered 195, 371.’

‘NZ has 797 cases. One lady has died down south in Grey Hospital – 😞. NZ now have +14 in hospital and +2 in ICU (Stable).’

‘The world has changed. USA is the next in line in the biggest fight of this century. They have 215,344 cases and 5112 deaths. Italy is now 110574 cases and 13,155 deaths. Spain is 104118 cases and 9387 deaths.’

‘The next biggest is

China 81589 cases 3318 deaths.
Then Germany 77981 cases – 931 deaths;
France 56989 cases – 4032 deaths;
Iran 47593 cases – 3036 deaths;
UK 29474 cases – 2352 deaths;
Suisse 17781 cases – 488 deaths.’

‘I watched a Kiwi-born paramedic in New York who had seen the members of one entire family perish over three days. She could not leave – not because she couldn’t get a flight, but because she had to stay and help.’

‘Air NZ has cut 000’s of jobs and cut their service by 95%.’

‘Bauer Media who owns the NZ Woman’s Weekly, North and South, and our dear Listener, told 260 workers today they are shutting down the publication and their jobs are gone!! WTF? RIP Listener L’

‘NZ: our essential workers, Drs, nurses, supermarket staff, couriers, farms, community health workers, etc are our frontline angels/soldiers. It is about time that NZers value our ‘unskilled’ labour too.’

‘Technology: Inventers are scrambling to make ventilators out of 3D printed materials. This is like war time! I read an article about war-time England and they used the car manufacturing process to make much needed guns. The STEN-GUN was simply springs and pipe and a whole lot of ingenuity. This is happening today – 2020 – with young people inventing medical equipment like ventilators, face guards to help our workers in hospitals etc…’

‘NZ: some Iwi are setting up road blocks in remote places like Far North and Tairawhiti/Gisborne to save our lives! I can understand the reasons why. It is hard for tau-iwi to understand when the mainstream simply sees one rule for one and another for others. Don Brash (former National Party leader) has rolled out the ‘race card’ already – not helpful!’

‘My son has made hot cross buns. My hubby has painted the fence. I am writing and cleaning the shed.’

‘My son cut his own hair LOL – and I posted the video on Facebook haha 😂’

‘Our local green grocer delivers and has capped her veggie box delivery at 200 orders!! They vary in prices from $20 – $40 and have spuds, apples, silver beet – anything really. We are just after the fruit as B. has everything else in his garden.’

‘Māori: Iwi are looking after our own with care packages and manaakitanga. I cried when I saw our local Tamatea page. So much aroha. The govt have promised $56m to Māori Whānau Ora. Hope it gets through.’

‘Education: Schools are closed. Early Childhood Education Centres, Kindies, and Playschools, Secondary Schools, and Universities are CLOSED. Some online learning.

‘Italy: singing was keeping the Italian community in good spirits three weeks ago. The singing has stopped – 13,000 deaths 😭 😭 😭’

‘I constantly check my phone for news of the coronavirus and how it is affecting the global community. It’s a horror movie. It’s like when Mum died – you forget sometimes and make chop suey, and then remember that nothing will be the same.’

‘I wonder what will happen for our moko? Our granddaughter who turns 5yo on 30 May 2020. She will never have the first day at school walking through the gates and meeting / hugging her new entrant teacher. W. was all set to attend College next year…he will learn online methinks. What will the world look like in one year… April 2021?’

Home haircut

‘Somebody predicted that 1 billion cases by June 2020…God I hope not!’

‘I wonder about those without… about poverty, crime etc… Civil disorder? When food runs out? Lord, it’s scary. We are okay for food for a good 1-2 months and if we keep stocking up we’ll be happy – but for how long?’

‘How am I feeling? Blessed. Anxious. Scared. Grateful! Hopeful for a better future for the world. It will get worse before it gets better.’

‘Dad insists on doing his own grocery shopping! Stubborn idiot. If he gets this – he a goner.’

Saturday, 4 April 2020

‘Just seen a funny, cool video called “The Family Lock-down Boogie” with a very “normal” nuclear family dancing in lock-down during Covid-19. We also watched the Netflix TV docu-series “Pandemic” which was released January 2020. Prescient and scary – the world is not prepared!’

‘We’re cleaning sheds, eating, and watching TV.’

‘Local Iwi hub has been set up and Kaumatua is helping to run it. Many locals are part of the team – it’s great because there is a huge threat to Māori – pandemics and ordinary western disease have decimated Māori populations in the past – the 1918 Spanish Flu killed thousands; measles.’

‘The USA is the great tragedy waiting to happen. I feel so much sadness for countries who will not be able to weather this! I watched a doco with Dennis Carroll – a scientist who predicts Zootropic virus that spill over from animals. He is American and his department’s funding was cut last year (2019) by Trump – typical. This tells us the obvious: $$ before people.’

‘I will explain the levels that the Govt have come up with:

Level 1 – Prepare. Disease is contained. Isolate and Border Sporadic Imported Cases.
Level 2 – Reduce. Disease is contained but risks of community transmission. Border entry. Employers work from home.
Level 3 – Restrict. Multiple clusters. Schools close. Border control. No GP face to face.
Level 4 – Eliminate. Disease is not contained. Stay home. Break the chain. Lockdown.’

‘We are in Level 4 – Jesus – disease is not contained.’

‘Lockdown now for 1.5 weeks. It’s strange. W. has had a fascination with masks all his life. When he had a tonsillectomy at 7yo, we bought him a $289 full face mask to humour him so he had it when he came home from the hospital. Wow, when masks are so important and we are being advised to wear them – we actually have three P2/N95 masks – preloaded and ready to go! Reminds me of the Mel Gibson movie about the Aliens and the little girl was obsessed with water, then near the end of the movie she had glasses of water ready to kill the aliens. W. was pre-preparing us with face masks! They could save us. The scary thing is this is no joke.’

Ko Taranaki te maunga. No Takapau, Central Hawke’s Bay ahau. Shelley Burne-Field is an emerging writer who completed a middle-grade adventure novel as part the MCW with Prof Paula Morris in 2019-2020. She has published short stories on RNZ and in print. Two short stories are at this moment being translated into Spanish!