I have had little desire to write here for a few months - somehow dealing with the pandemic has been of more importance, and reading about elections, both here and watching the scenes from America too.
I know we have been lucky here in New Zealand - physical distance, being an island, good management, luck, and having well-managed isolation and tracing systems has shielded us from much of the Covid 19 impact. Yes I know there have been occasional managed Covid breakthroughs and that the lockdowns and lack of international tourists have been very hard financially on our tourism and hospitality sectors, let alone Air New Zealand. However, I know we all watch how the rest of the world has been devastated and many here have lost loved ones overseas. My son Liam returned to NZ from London in May and has worked remotely from here since, for which I have been immensely relieved, even if he is looking forward to returning to Europe soon.
The first vaccines were administered to our front-line workers in the managed isolation areas today. They expect the rollout across us all will take a year and we may still go in and out of lockdowns, but it is good to feel that the end may be in sight.
On Monday, it is the 10 year anniversary of our February 2011 earthquake. It wouldn't feel right not to acknowledge it and reflect on the changes we have experienced in the city. This wonderful video from Deon Swiggs takes me back there and not always in a nice way, but he shows many of the new structures and the exciting ongoing plans for venues - you can see them alongside video footage of what used to be. We have certainly kept many tradesmen busy for the past 10 years. The city is filled with bars, markets, restaurants and activities and we continue to visit it regularly. Many people have moved into the centre. I have watched Jade Stadium (Lancaster Park originally) and the Catholic Cathedral be demolished from my office window. Perhaps the biggest change for me is that I appreciate what is there now and have stopped trying to remember how it used to be.
In other news, on Monday I started a new intake of students. We went into a semi-lockdown for three days on Sunday night after three cases were discovered in Auckland so it was an interesting start to the week, but we are back to normal, and after experiencing the earthquake on the second day of the 2011 class intake, I was just glad we still had a building to work from this year.
We have so many students attending our graduation next month that we can't all fit in the Town Hall - which has been rebuilt and is wonderful. So it is back to the Stadium in Addington. Last year the ceremony was cancelled due to Covid. In 2019 we did hold a Town Hall ceremony when it reopened, but the graduand procession through the central city was cancelled because the Memorial Service for the tragic shooting at the Mosques was taking place in Hagley Park - security was too tight to allow spare police to manage our procession.
While international travel is off the table, I have managed some trips to Nelson, Akaroa and Kaikoura. All so beautiful and great memories of the sea, mountains, friends and fun times. I am aware that even small trips like these have not been possible for many of you overseas and that separation from your family for so long must be incredibly hard. I found just one month of the full lockdown bad enough - really looked forward to taking the shopping over to Mum weekly and having an official reason to be away from home! I found dawn walks along the river with Poppy were the only way to get out and be away from crowds of other dog walkers all day!
May you stay safe, and well and let's all look forward to more normal times being possible again soon.