Kia Kaha Marlborough
By: Christopher Cookson
Last Modified: 23-3-2020 23:14
Sitting in my home office, where fortunately I've worked from for years, things aren't going to change all that much for me in the next 48 hours. I've already been chafing at being relatively house-bound because the Molesworth road, and Wither Hills tracks have closed due to fire risk caused by drought. Ironically these are a couple of places where it's fairly easy to find isolation, which is something I actually enjoy, as long as I have space around me.
I will have my wife and daughter home, and I'm going to be effectively my daughter's teacher for the next month. Once again, that's not too much of a change, as I see her a couple of hours a week at lunch time as I teach edible gardens at her school. We are fortunate enough to live on one of the ever diminishing number of quarter acre sections, so have plenty of space, and plenty of stuff to eat especially at present, with fruit coming out our ears (and other places, if we eat too much).
I bought a bucket of roof paint today from Mitre 10, as my wife has been reminding me for some time that I haven't finished painting the roof, so with her around all day for the next four weeks, I have a suspicion that the reminders will get more frequent, and I don't know if couriers do home deliveries of large buckets of paint. She's never demanded expensive jewellery of me, so a bucket of paint is a relatively inexpensive way to maintain marital tranquility, however even if it weren't entirely sufficient, I'll be spending quite a bit of time up on the roof which I think is quite an innovative form of total self-isolation.
Tonight my daughter put on her team Brazil football shirt and shorts, and we played a one-on-one game in the back yard. The thought crossed my mind, maybe should we start live-streaming our games, as much of international sport is out of action. I have a FCP (Porto) shirt, and Brazil vs a Portuguese team would be a fun combination, although sadly my striking skills fall so far short of star Portuguese player, Christian Ronaldo, that I think people will have to treat our games as comedy rather than sport.
My parents are over 300 kilometeres away in north Canterbury, and I worry about them, as they are in the high risk demographic for Covid-19, with Dad turning 80 last year. Dad was born just months before the outbreak of WWII, and Mum was born during the war. My parents grew up understanding hardship, and community working together to help each other out. The sacrifices many New Zealanders made during the war to ensure the safety of the nation, including many who gave their lives overseas, was far greater than the sacrifice we're all being asked to make now, so I hope all New Zealanders can show solidarity, so that people like my parents who survived a world war, don't end their lives as a result of personal irresponsibility of later generations.
Dad's own grandfather was mayor of Christchurch during the war, so knowing my own family's history, I fully appreciate the pressure our leaders are under at this time.
One of the most important things during a crisis like this is to keep people's spirits up. I had an email from someone who had bought one of my books of poetry and photography about the Taylor River this week, saying how much they appreciated it, and would rely on it to remind them of their daily walk while they are confined at home due to being in a high risk demographic.
As someone who works remotely, and builds websites and apps for a living, I'll be doing what I can to provide interesting material on Marlborough Online, and though I actually have plenty of paying work, (Marlborough Online doesn't put food on the table), I'll try to spend more time adding content, and updating the blog section of this site. Even if I can't get out and about, I have plenty of resources to draw on for content.
I can quickly add new sections to the site, or add features, and I don't have to get permission from anyone to do so. I'd also like to extend an invitation to anyone else with creative tendencies if you'd like to contribute written or visual material. I'm fully equipped to work remotely, so I can meet with you without having to leave my home office.
Some good, long form articles, or even fiction about Marlborough could be helpful to keep people occupied over the coming weeks when they won't be going anywhere to far. I'm not sure about stories of zombie apocalypse personally, as that might be a little too close for comfort, however people have many different tastes , so as long as it's local, I'll consider publishing it, although I won't publish anything that's too adult orientated, as Marlborough Online is primarily a resource about Marlborough, and I know from feedback, school students do look at the site.
One of the rather convenient things about Marlborough at this time, which at other times, people may feel like a drawback, is that there are fewer than 50,000 people in a large area, giving a population density of around 4.5 people per square kilometre, compared to around 18 per square kilometre nationally. This means it actually should be easy enough to avoid cabin fever and get some exercise without getting too close to other people, however I heard that at the weekend, many people had exactly this idea, however lack of coordination meant many people all ended up at the same 'isolated' spots for exercise.
If someone else doesn't beat me to it, I've already thought how it would be very easy to create a registration system for people to indicate where and when they want to go for exercise, to provide a graphical advisory of too many people, eg green for good to go, orange for caution, and red for no go. For such a system to work, there can't be duplicates, but if no one else has put something together, I can get something online within a couple of hours.
Marlborough, and New Zealand will get through this. Even in a worst case scenario with no lock down, we certainly wouldn't all die, but we, or someone we know, would expect to lose loved ones. Looking at the situation from that perspective, being limited to being able to communicate with friends and family from a distance for a few weeks is far preferable to not being able to communicate with them ever again.
If you think that being stuck at home with only your family is tough, with only the occasional outing to the supermarket or for a drive, spare a thought for the former lighthouse keepers who manned the Brothers lighthouse in Cook Strait until 1990. This rugged rocky outcrop in Cook Strait is the easternmost point in Marlborough, and based on the accounts of lighthouse keepers, makes being stuck at home for a month seem like paradise in comparison.
Kia kaha Marlborough.