01 August 2021, Aotearoa New Zealand

 Tūtawa mai i runga, tūtawa mai i raro

Tūtawa mai i roto, tūtawa mai i waho

Kia tau ai te mauri tū, te mauri ora

Ki te katoa, haumi e, hui e,

 Tāiki e

E ngā rangatira ma, tena koutou. Distinguished ones, all who serve humankind, greetings.

Many of you will recognise the phrase that prefaces this second letter to you all. It is based on an original quote by French writer Albert Camus, and we felt that the phrase, more than anything we could personally say, encapsulates the indomitable human resolve that we have all witnessed during COVID. In Camus’ words:

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.

-Albert Camus

And so, here at the one-year mark of this project, we would like to acknowledge your courage and resilience during this year of the plague which, for many, has indeed seemed like a very long winter.

Exactly twelve months have passed since we launched Love in the Time of COVID. We wanted to create a virtual space – what Māori would call a marae, a meeting place – where we could all meet to share our experiences in the face of so much death, sadness and uncertainty, and to honour and protect our common humanity. By reaching across the boundaries erected to keep ourselves safe. By sharing our experiences even while wearing masks. By creating cohesive communities, even while standing six feet apart.

We thank you all for your commitment to chronicle the pandemic and all its consequences with aroha and in hope. And we want to let you know that while we take a break for a month, we will be continuing the platform from September 2021 to August 2022.

In particular, in our second year, we will not only be offering the marae as a place for you to meet but also asking you to look beyond the winter that has consumed and continues to consume us. What do you think are the greatest challenges we face after living with COVID? Is there a post-COVID? What is waiting for the world on the horizon? What are your dreams for humankind? For the environment? For the younger generation? How can we change our societies so we can reach that horizon together?

Please send new submissions with this idea in mind. We want to keep sharing your experiences and reflections, in all forms. Push the boundaries of what is possible, and please send your view from wherever you are.

And in the next year, we aim to publish the best of your work in a book publication that will include visual art, songs, poems, stories, essays, memories. We will be working on this anthology of collected voices in the coming twelve months, while we also continue to listen, see and experience the world in this online space.

 Come forth from above, come forth from below,

Come forth from within and from without,

Let vitality and wellbeing settle

Upon us all & strengthen us

In unity

We look forward,

Witi   &   Michelle