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If there’s one thing Ōtaki can count on in times such as this, it’s our community. We’re in this together, and we’ll get through it together.

We’ll support, we’ll be kind, we’ll laugh and we’ll cry.

We’re in tough times and there’s worse still to come. Jobs are being lost and businesses have closed – some will never reopen. It will be a new world we emerge into when this is all over, in ways we’ve never considered before.

The unknown can be scary, but remarkably positive things can come of it.

Unexpected benefits are already arising. One is community cohesion – ironic in a situation where households are isolated and the streets are empty.

Have you noticed how neighbours are now waving out and having a chat over the fence, or people we’ve not seen before smile and feel inclined to make a witty remark while out walking about our shared woes of confinement?

Neighbourhoods are getting together as never before in virtual ways. Email connections, street-specific social media pages and simple notes in the letterbox are connecting our community. Can I help get groceries, lend you some tools, drop some lemons at your door? All with safety in mind, of course.

Simple consideration and kindness are traits that have been forgotten in many larger towns and cities, and have arguably been discarded to a lesser degree in Ōtaki as the pace of 21st century life rolls relentlessly on.

Yes, we’ve heard stories of people doing dumb things, and sadly stories of people verbally abusing essential workers. But when we witness it, we need to call it out – with calm and the sort of kindness we’re expecting of them. People are stressed. Understand.

And don’t go venting on social media – ever. Other people see it, and it reflects more on your character than the people you’re complaining about.

There are likely to be many positive consequences of this enforced lockdown.

As people get used to working from home, businesses will find that it’s not so bad. Staff have come to enjoy it and the work’s still getting done. It will become more common and more people will look at job descriptions

that allow remote working. Look also for a change in the type of houses people want – somewhere for an office will become a factor.

People will get used to not driving everywhere. Exercise will become routine, bodies will become fitter.

Home gardens and gardening skills will be valued. The sound of power tools and hammers in my neighbourhood indicate DIY projects are in full swing. That will improve home environments and provide opportunities for kids to learn new skills.

And families might just become more connected. Living at home with limited opportunities to get out can be difficult, but it’s also a time to cement relationships. Make the most of it.

Some people simply refuse to buy into the fear and anxiety that this terrible virus has brought to us. Te Ara Smiler decided to dress up in action hero “protective” gear when she went to Countdown, a humorous poke in the eye to Covid-19 (see page 3). Residents are putting teddy bears and other treasured soft toys in their windows. Those out for a walk are getting their kids to look for them, smile and talk about the children’s song, worth quoting here:

We’re goin’ on a bear hunt

We’re going to catch a big one,

I’m not scared

What a beautiful day!

Not a bad way to view the world as we look forward to coming into the sunshine again. Kia kaha (be strong, together).

We’ll get through this together



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