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Post COVID-19

12 April 2020
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 What to expect after lockdown


The national lockdown is currently just gone past halfway stage. The signs are promising: if we all maintain our bubbles for the next two weeks the lockdown may come to an end.

And while the first two weeks were a time thinking about how things used to be, now is time to think about the way things will be when we leave lockdown

It won’t be the same world. If the lockdown does lift in two weeks’ time – and it looks promising– we will not go straight back to normal. It could be that some areas with high infection rates stay on lockdown, and other areas move to level 2 or 3.

Even where the alert level is lowered, people who are “high risk” (those who are over 70 or with health conditions that weaken their immune systems) should stay at home for their safety. So our care and concern for them must remain.

That should get us thinking about the obstacles some of our vulnerable people, particularly elderly, already face in daily life getting to the doctors, collecting their groceries, seeing friends and whānau, and keeping connected with the community.

We should be looking at how our communities in the rohe can be more accessible and more liveable. One way of addressing that is to return to looking after each other in hapū based villages, where such care is a way of life.

For our young people, with schools closed, educators are realising that bricks and mortar classrooms are not the be all and end all of teaching tamariki. We can learn from this to advance the way that we combine classroom teaching with Tūhoe education about the land and our culture.

After COVID-19, we will also be thinking about resilience. The world is learning, as Tūhoe have known forever in our exercise of mana motuhake, that you cannot always depend on others to provide for you.

Over the lockdown, Te Uru Taumatua and the Tribal Authorities have made sure we have plenty of supplies of food and medicine coming in. But we can take more steps to ensure that our communities can live with the land and sustain themselves from it, by growing our own food communally for the good of the village, ensuring that we can fix our own roads by getting Nature’s Road going and by providing our own water and energy infrastructure as we have in our living buildings.

New Zealand’s largest export industry, tourism, has been hit hard by COVID-19 and will change significantly . Until a vaccine is developed, which experts say is around 18 months away, the New Zealand border (at airports) will be closed. Many airlines around the world will go broke. International tourist numbers will fall to almost nothing. New Zealanders will start seeing their own country instead of going overseas.

This makes the development of sustainable tourism experiences and jobs for Tūhoe in Te Urewera both a need and an opportunity. The uniqueness of Te Urewera and its natural beauty will mean more attention for us, and means we have a chance to show more visitors how we can prosper by living as one with nature. It’s something Te Uru Taumatua has been working on with the four whārua Tribal Authorities for a number of years. We can expect more New Zealand visitors, who we can show the values of Te Kawa o Te Urewera.

And there will be a recession. Already foreign owners have pulled out of New Zealand and made hundreds of workers redundant . It’s a reminder that we must build up our own rohe and communities. We need to provide skills for our own people so that we can be interdependent on each other, and our neighbours like the Whakatāne District Council.

The main lesson we should remember in the post-COVID world is which parts of the pre-COVID world turned out to be not so important to us. When a pandemic started to sweep the globe New Zealanders returned from overseas to their families. No-one booked into a fancy hotel or AirBnB for isolation out of choice – they came home. The things that matter, the things that will survive a pandemic – or an earthquake or a global financial crisis - are the land, our communities, our whānau, hapū and iwi. That’s what we should not forget when we emerge from lockdown.

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