Wellington woestenij: dag één van de afsluiting

Wellington woestenij: dag één van de afsluiting

april 5, 2020 0 Door admin

Translating…

As the lockdown took effect, Wellington turned into a wasteland, with the sound of wind replacing traffic on the morning commute.

Like many of you, our reporters have been working from home. On this historic day, we challenged them to head out into their communities and provide you with a sense of what that history looks like. Notebooks and cameras in hand, social distancing rules enforced, here’s what they found.

An empty Lambton Quay on day one of the lockdown.

ROSS GINLIN/STUFF

An empty Lambton Quay on day one of the lockdown.

Rob Mitchell in Central Wellington

I miss them. Didn’t think I would ever say that, but it’s true.

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The teenager on her cellphone, oblivious to the pace and direction of others. The older people and tourists clogging the path with their ambling shuffle. The wanderers cutting our straight lines with their own annoying twists and turns.

Humanity.

Police patrol the city centre (Manners/Cuba Streets) for people who disobey the new national lockdown laws.

ROBERT KITCHIN/STUFF

Police patrol the city centre (Manners/Cuba Streets) for people who disobey the new national lockdown laws.

There’s little of that at the vast, usually busy intersection of Courtenay, Manners and Taranaki thoroughfares.

Little need to observe the crossing lights either. At the intersection’s centre I stop and take notes: from the waterfront, all the way up Taranaki St towards Mt Cook, neither car nor human is moving.

Even the seagulls commanding Te Aro Park look listless and a little lost.

Midland Park on Lambton Quay would normally be teeming with people.

ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

Midland Park on Lambton Quay would normally be teeming with people.

They stir slightly as three buses punctuate the sombre reverie: Nos 24, 3 and 14. Just one passenger between them.

So often an annoying attack on sensitive ears, they are now empty sentinels breaking the mood, hinting at the possibility of human interaction. But their presence merely stays the silence, their passing bringing it flooding back. 

The beeps of the crossing signals along Cuba St, so often lost in the general cacophony of the city, are now piercing sirens for those lost in the fog of war against this virus.

It’s a silence that lives in the dark and gloom inside so many empty, shuttered bars, restaurants, offices and shops. On Cuba and Willis; Lambton Quay and the Terrace.

Public servants, Luis Carrasqueiro, left and Bella Anastasiou converse 2 meters apart while waiting to get into the National Crisis Centre at the Beehive.

ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

Public servants, Luis Carrasqueiro, left and Bella Anastasiou converse 2 meters apart while waiting to get into the National Crisis Centre at the Beehive.

Signs in the windows speak to fears of business owners that this pervading silence might be shattered by those with their own dark intentions.

“No cash or stock on premises”, they scream in large, capital letters meant, if not for the marauders of the zombie apocalypse then at least for the malevolent opportunists among us.

Wellington’s CBD in lockdown looks like a set for The Walking Dead, without the weeds and decay of years of neglect but with its own detritus of rubbish stirred by an indifferent wind, and a homeless person’s discarded sleeping bag.

We may not have the ravenous Walkers, but the living still look wary.

The few supermarket shoppers and rubber-neckers to history shuffle quickly, quietly past, always at a distance.

The parliamentary precinct was all but deserted on Thursday morning.

ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

The parliamentary precinct was all but deserted on Thursday morning.

As colleague Virginia Fallon has pointed out, they are the clean-bummed Bison who herded the toilet paper as the lockdown loomed.

Now they regard me and others outside their bubble as potential predators on a quiet, uncertain, nervy plain.

Some wear masks; one guy on the other side of the street has one but he’s given up. It’s resting on the back of his neck.

A homeless person sleeping rough in Bunny St despite the lockdown.

ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

A homeless person sleeping rough in Bunny St despite the lockdown.

Who can blame him – there are no teens on their phones, oblivious of everyone but themselves; no older people or tourists out of time with the rhythm of a fast-paced city. No wanderers following their own crooked paths.

There’s nobody.

Alas. I miss them.

A park and ride carpark is devoid of cars.

DEBORAH MORRIS/STUFF

A park and ride carpark is devoid of cars.

Deborah Morris in Avalon

Avalon’s weirdly quiet.  From my home I can usually hear both the trains running and the traffic on the motorway faintly.

Not today.

If it wasn’t for the wind there would be little of the background noises we take for granted at all.

I’ve been working from home for days now.  Usually there are walkers in leisure gear, pensioners with dogs and mums with small kids walking the streets.

I’d only seen one by 9am.  Normally I don’t think about it.  Now I miss them.

Across the road the family of the elderly couple check on them.  They stand at the gate several metres from the door. It’s both sad and oddly reassuring.

No-one is playing in this Avalon playground.

DEBORAH MORRIS/STUFF

No-one is playing in this Avalon playground.

Avalon Park has been largely abandoned to the ducks and seagulls.  They laze in the sun. One elderly couple walk hand in hand.

One man walks with three small boys; they look delighted with the handfuls of sticks they are carrying.

On the streets are people walking, some with masks, some with dogs getting the walk of their lives and a chap ambling along with a wine bottle in his hand.

A military police car cruises past me.  Outside a dairy is a police car and three people well spaced out as they wait to go in.

There’s a security guard outside the Shona McFarlane Retirement Village gate. No one else is in sight.

Newtown resident Peter Tweddle waits for the all-clear to enter a local chemist on Riddiford St on day one of a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown on Thursday.

KATARINA WILLIAMS/STUFF

Newtown resident Peter Tweddle waits for the all-clear to enter a local chemist on Riddiford St on day one of a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown on Thursday.

Katarina Williams in Newtown

Peter Tweddle makes the trip to the chemist every day.

But today’s trip is like nothing he has ever experienced before. Today is day one of a nationwide four-week lockdown.

Tweddle is second in a queue which has formed outside the door, as a result of the one-in-one-out policy imposed by the Government.

“It’s pretty eerie,” Tweddle shouts from the other side of the footpath.

“It’s quite ghostly. It’s like Christmas Day but not. It’s very dead, especially for a Thursday, this would be packed with doctors, nurses and government officials doing their daily things,” he says.

Further up the road, many of society’s more vulnerable are still out and about. 

Dressed in his Sunday best and matching bowler hat, an elderly koro – clutching a thick, tan-brown walking stick – isn’t all that fussed about heeding the Government’s warnings for those over 70 to remain at home.

With his daughter close by, he walks past nine Wellington City Mission cars parked outside St Thomas’ Chapel.

A supermarket trolley is one of the only users of Riddiford St footpath on day one of a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown on Thursday.

KATARINA WILLIAMS/STUFF

A supermarket trolley is one of the only users of Riddiford St footpath on day one of a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown on Thursday.

Inside, people prepare food parcels for those struggling to support themselves through what has become an extraordinary turn of events.

Those out walking their dogs or pushing their toddlers in strollers swerve on to the road to avoid getting close to others, taking on board the need to maintain a two-metre distance.

As a trolley sits friendless on the footpath, a sign in one of the windows reminds everyone to “stay safe and take care”.

Wellington's Massey campus lay empty at 11am, the time when students would normally be queuing for their morning coffee.

KATE GREEN/STUFF

Wellington’s Massey campus lay empty at 11am, the time when students would normally be queuing for their morning coffee.

Kate Green in Mt Cook

Do cicadas still chirp if there’s nobody around to hear them? Does sun still beat down on pavement, wind whip around the blunt corners of buildings, and trees shed their leaves?

The stillness of the Massey University campus is unnerving. There should be students everywhere, Tussock cafe should be heaving, it’s 11am. The Basin sits empty and green, gates closed.

There are little glimmers of the old Wellington. A child on a scooter boosts down Hopper St, and a van drives past with bassy music blasting. It feels almost sacrilegious to make such loud sounds. 

The gentle thrum of tyres on tarmac is missing, and you can hear any vehicle from a block away. One truck drives straight through a red light. Lawlessness doesn’t quite reign, but this driver’s doing his part.

A graffiti artist has left a timely message for passers by on the corner of Hopper and Webb Streets.

KATE GREEN/STUFF

A graffiti artist has left a timely message for passers by on the corner of Hopper and Webb Streets.

A graffitist with an agenda has left a five-foot-tall reminder to passers-by on the side of a building: “Wash ur hands”.

The only car, and the only person in sight, coincide at a pedestrian crossing and the incredulous driver’s head falls back against the seat in frustration. It feels silly waiting for lights when there’s nobody in sight.

Wellington is still there. The sun still shines and the cicadas still chirp. And it’ll still be there when we spill from our houses, bleary-eyed, stretch our limbs, and hug our friends. 

The streets of Karori were empty.

LAURA WILTSHIRE/STUFF

The streets of Karori were empty.

Laura Wiltshire in Karori

On a normal day, people dart around Karori doing errands. Girls in Marsden green uniforms pile into the local dairy, fondly known as Dilip’s, getting their sugar fix before afternoon classes. The main road is filled with the sound of children playing at Karori Normal School. 

Thursday is not a normal day. 

Those who are out and about nearly all have a ‘pass’ with them – dog, a child, a shopping bag. Something to say “look, I have a reason to be beyond my front gates.”  

People wander into the middle of the road in order to stay two metres apart. Why not? Cars are few and far between. 

Dilip’s has a sign outside, limiting how many people can come in at a time. No more girls in green are hurrying down at lunchtime. 

The gates at Marsden have shut, with signs telling people not to play on the playgrounds.

LAURA WILTSHIRE/STUFF

The gates at Marsden have shut, with signs telling people not to play on the playgrounds.

Marsden is closed, the gates pulled shut. Closing them must have been a tough job. In my 10 years as a student at the school, I do not remember them being anything but propped open. 

The hallways in the Karori mall have been split in three. A sign tells Countdown shoppers to wait on one side, New World on the other, those needing the pharmacy down a separate hall. 

But underneath all the strangeness, all the separation, the suburb’s character is still there. People still smile and wave, from a safe distance. Children play; on their front lawns rather than school playgrounds. Native birdsong accompanies walkers. All small signs the world is still spinning, and this will be over one day.

The first day of lockdown at the waterfront and Oriental Parade. There are people jogging, cycling and rollerblading but it's not as busy as it would be.

MANDY TE/STUFF

The first day of lockdown at the waterfront and Oriental Parade. There are people jogging, cycling and rollerblading but it’s not as busy as it would be.

Mandy Te in Oriental Bay

Even in lockdown, Civic Square is the same – empty.

It’s only when you walk to the waterfront that you notice how quiet the city is.

The bars and cafes are closed so there’s no blasting music and you don’t catch snippets of people’s conversations like you usually do. 

At Waitangi Park, you can spot a few people walking their dogs and no one seems to panic when police officers are around – one of them is wearing a black mask. One dog walker gives them a polite wave as they drive off and along Oriental Parade. 

Few people could be seen around Wellington's normally bustling waterfront.

MANDY TE/STUFF

Few people could be seen around Wellington’s normally bustling waterfront.

Unlike most days at Oriental Bay, there are empty parking spots and space for you to distance yourself from others as people stick to opposite sides or dash through on their bike or roller blades. 

Only one person has decided to go for a swim on Thursday and he’s the only person on the beach. 

Johnsonville Rd was eerily quiet.

DAMIAN GEORGE/STUFF

Johnsonville Rd was eerily quiet.

Damian George in Johnsonville

After a mad dash over the past 48 hours, it appears Johnsonville residents have now hunkered down as the nationwide lockdown rules come into effect.

Back roads in the northern Wellington suburb are practically empty mid-morning on Thursday, bar the odd person or group out for some exercise and a lone courier truck backing into a driveway.

A handful of cars at the Northern Walkway entrance suggest some have chosen to get out in nature to get their daily fix, but the area is otherwise eerily quiet.

But without doubt the most striking image of this lockdown is the absence of vehicles on the normally bustling Johnsonville Rd and Wellington Urban Motorway.

The usual traffic queues at the southbound entrance to the motorway, off Johnsonville Rd, are non-existent, as are the vehicles jostling for positions as they approach the Ngauranga Gorge.

Empty streets make it easy to cross the road in Johnsonville.

ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

Empty streets make it easy to cross the road in Johnsonville.

Instead, the six-lane highway is virtually empty, and the usual queue at the State Highway 2 off-ramp replaced by hundreds of metres of barren motorway.

Back up the road in Johnsonville, the normally busy shopping centre car park is all but empty, and the nearby Countdown supermarket car park barely half-full.

The area is so quiet that traffic lights could have been disabled and it would have made no difference.

And while this is quite eerie and unsettling, it is also encouraging and inspiring. 

Because if there are any fears about Kiwis not taking these lockdown rules seriously or finding loopholes to suit their own needs, that certainly does not appear to be the case in Wellington’s northern suburbs.

Police officers stop walkers on Mt Victoria to ask whether people have driven away from their homes during lock down.

JOEL MACMANUS/STUFF

Police officers stop walkers on Mt Victoria to ask whether people have driven away from their homes during lock down.

Joel MacManus in Mt Victoria

The walkways of the Mt Victoria town belt are just about as busy as they’ve ever been for early afternoon on a weekday. A brief escape into the forest is a much-needed reset for residents already feeling the walls closing in. 

Walkers and runners do their best to give two metres space as they pass on thin trails. A small queue forms at the steps on Majoribanks St as two oncoming groups let each other pass one at a time. 

A small handful of mountain-bikers are out and about. Two people are in the middle of workouts at the Pirie St play area. 

The rustling of leaves on the ground seems more pronounced. Everyone’s a little bit on edge. Even people walking together aren’t chatting much. The sound of a stick breaking under foot is just enough to make you jump.

At the top of the hill, two police officers on electric bikes are asking visitors where they live, clearing out the carpark and trying to discourage people from driving beyond their suburb for exercise. 

As they leave to ride back down the hill, two more vehicles arrive at the top.

The Waione St bridge in Lower Hutt is usually teeming with fishers, pedestrians and cyclists. It was deserted on the first day of the coronavirus lockdown.

MATTHEW TSO/SUPPLIED

The Waione St bridge in Lower Hutt is usually teeming with fishers, pedestrians and cyclists. It was deserted on the first day of the coronavirus lockdown.

Matt Tso in Lower Hutt

Three things in life are certain: death, taxes and getting tailgated on the Wainuiomata hill – even under a government-imposed lockdown. 

“Be kind” was the message from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the beginning of the week. It seems 80kmh is still not fast enough for those few uncharitable drivers left on the roads.

Aggressive drivers aside, barely used streets are the new normal under Alert Level 4.

The chugging of diesel engines and the hot smells of Lower Hutt’s Seaview industrial area have been replaced by the sound of wind brushing past warehouses and lungfuls of fresh air brought by Wellington’s prevailing northerly.

The shops and eateries of Petone’s Jackson St retail area are silent too. Empty car parks sit opposite darkened shops.

The signs on the windows say the businesses will return in four weeks: “No food or stock on site” is the missive left by one fretful shop owner.   

Joseph Tsou owns the Unichem Petone Pharmacy which is one of the few businesses still open on Petone's Jackson St during the coronavirus lockdown.

MATTHEW TSO/STUFF

Joseph Tsou owns the Unichem Petone Pharmacy which is one of the few businesses still open on Petone’s Jackson St during the coronavirus lockdown.

Joseph Tsou is the owner of the Unichem Petone Pharmacy, one of the few businesses still trading.

The first day of the lockdown has brought a downturn in foot traffic but things are still busy behind the counter with prescription orders flying in online and over the phone.

“I’ll be here till midnight tonight,” he laments.  

Activewear might become a symbol of the lockdown. There are plenty of people still out cycling or walking their dogs – keeping a safe distance, of course – and most have chosen to wrap themselves in the tight, moisture-wicking clothing.

The fishers who pull up kahawai from the Waione St bridge are absent, though the blood and rusty hooks from yesterday’s catch are still there. 

In the Hutt Estuary below, a pair of royal spoonbills observe the prescribed two metre distance, not the larrikin swans, though. They don’t care.   

A man cleans an ATM outside Brooklyn's Wing on Chang on the first day of the lockdown.

PAUL HARPER/STUFF

A man cleans an ATM outside Brooklyn’s Wing on Chang on the first day of the lockdown.

Sharron Pardoe in Brooklyn 

Ohiro Rd through Brooklyn is usually rumbling with trucks. Today it is empty except for the sporadic walker or runner, but then a tow-truck zooms by with a smashed car on the back – for some it is business as usual.

The local pharmacy is one of the few signs of life in this city-fringe suburb. Barricades are up by the doors and a strict entry regime is being enforced by staff at the door.

At one of the local dairies a one-in, one-out sign was being put up. A cardboard-box barricade has been installed by the counter to keep customers back.

The other dairy offers hand sanitiser by it’s roughly drawn one-in, one out sign.

Further up the suburb, there are lots of parents out and about on the pavements with kids in strollers or in backpacks, dogs are being walked and there is the occasional person out in their garden. Everyone is religiously keeping the 2 metres-and-more distance from each other.

There’s the sound of a skill-saw in a neighbour’s yard, but it’s all quiet on a house construction site. 

In Brooklyn many missed the recycling memo and the usually empty daytime streets were chokka with cars

SHARRON PARDOE/STUFF

In Brooklyn many missed the recycling memo and the usually empty daytime streets were chokka with cars

Many have missed the recycling memo, with bins of bottles littering the pavements. 

In one street, a neighbour has left a flyer in letterboxes  inviting people to join a street email group. 

Above it all the Brooklyn turbine keeps on turning. 

A kid wears a gas type mask in Cannons Creek.

ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

A kid wears a gas type mask in Cannons Creek.

Joel Maxwell in Porirua

There’s talk of unity around the nation, but in Porirua there’s mostly just a sense of departure. 

North City Mall, at the centre of a network of streets and car parks, feels like a summer resort town in very late autumn. 

Thousands were here yesterday – today there’s a few locals, preparing for a long winter.

A man pushes a trolley up to the Hartham Place North entrance to find the automatic doors locked.

Around Hartham Place you can hear pop music piped out of the mall – music as unkillable as cockroaches – and screeching gulls. Is there anything sadder than a mall gathering dust?  

People keeping their 2 metre social distance at Simon's Pharmacy in Tawa.

ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

People keeping their 2 metre social distance at Simon’s Pharmacy in Tawa.

A nurse called Kay sits beside empty playgrounds on a vape-break.

“It’s just constant handwashing, hand wiping, masking on, masking off, disposing of used equipment,” she says “If we become unwell ourselves, we just stay away.”

Out in the eastern suburb of Cannons Creek a man whose face is masked in a scarlet bandanna sits on the door of a general store, raising and lowering a barrier to people, like it’s a nightclub.

Inside, managers stand in the aisle, wrapped head-to-toe in protective gear, with just a set of roving, worried eyes visible.

To the north, State Highway 1 is almost empty as you drive past Paremata, Mana, and up to Pukerua Bay, where people are out walking in family-and-dog units.

On the way south a feral sheep, carrying several seasons of wool, has emerged from the Paekākāriki escarpment and is grazing on the side of the highway.

Last week this road, hemmed in to the west by the sea, would have been full of cars.

Medical centre staff tend to people in a car park next to Waikanae medical centre on Marae Lane.

VIRGINIA FALLON/STUFF

Medical centre staff tend to people in a car park next to Waikanae medical centre on Marae Lane.

Virginia Fallon in Kāpiti

People are sitting in a circle in a Waikanae car park.

Under a grey sky the masked patients perch on chairs set well away from each other while medical staff in gloves, gowns and masks tend to them from a station set up in the middle of the circle.

A man bikes past with a bandana wrapped around his face and a dog pulling at its leash.

Welcome to Kāpiti’s lockdown.

On Thursday morning the towns of the Kāpiti Coast are quiet, cars normally parked at workplaces are now in driveways and roads usually choked with traffic are clear. 

Supermarkets are open but nobody is lining up outside, playgrounds are deserted and trucks have State Highway 1 to themselves. 

A masked security guard outside an Ōtaki supermarket chats to a man on a mobility scooter. On the main street a tractor chugs on by. Teddy bears peer out from house windows.

Work on the Peka Peka to Otaki expressway has halted on the first day on the country's lockdown.

VIRGINIA FALLON/STUFF

Work on the Peka Peka to Otaki expressway has halted on the first day on the country’s lockdown.

At Paraparaumu Beach a police car cruises through the shopping area before stopping next to a playground for a while. A man flies a kite at Peka Peka Beach.

Dogs are out walking with owners but aren’t allowed to touch noses with fellow canine friends, pedestrians cross the road to avoid each other but call out their hellos. 

Someone has left free bags of lettuce outside their gate.

The roadworks that have formed a staple part of Kāpiti life for years now have stopped. Workers on the Kāpiti and Peka Peka to Ōtaki expressways have gone, leaving their diggers and trucks neatly lined up along the state highway. A Waikanae butchery is open, a sign in the window says they have permission from MPI.

Les Jones is out for a walk but this is something he does everyday.

“Maybe this will have a good effect on everyone’s health if the only thing they can do is get exercise”, he calls from the side of the road.

“You have to feel sorry for all the dogs though, they’ll be getting tired.”

We tell each other to keep safe and I head back to the car.

A little girl waves at me from the window of her house.

Masterton's Queen St CBD on day one of the lockdown.

PIERS FULLER/STUFF

Masterton’s Queen St CBD on day one of the lockdown.

Piers Fuller in Wairarapa

A beautiful sunny day in Wairarapa belies the fact that a blanket of quiet has been flung across the valley.

Traffic on the main artery of State Highway 2 linking four towns south to north barely registers a pulse. The odd food truck or contractor’s vehicle punctuates the normally hectic Waingawa Straights at morning rush hour.

Wairarapa’s wo Het hoofdcentrum van Masterton in Rkaday is bijna tot stilstand gekomen, afgezien van een paar zielen die boodschappen doen of auto’s die door het CBD kruipen.

In het ovaal bij Queen Elizabeth Park is de enige activiteit voor 360 graden het geritsel van bladeren in de wind en het tingelen van iemand die aan pijpen in Dixon St in de buurt werkt.

Geen geluid van waterige dreunen van de waterfietsen op het meer of echo van de minitrein op het eiland.

In de Nieuwe Wereld ontbreekt niet het wc-papier uit de schappen, maar de lolly’s nemen snel af. Misschien veranderen de isolatieprioriteiten van de bevolking.

Het stadscentrum van Carterton is de thuisbasis van een beetje verkeer, maar er zijn nog steeds een paar gezinnen op de fiets en koppels die honden uitlaten om u eraan te herinneren dat dit een nog steeds bewoonde plaats is .

Een moeder en dochter in Carrington Park gooien herfstbladeren naar elkaar, naast een speeltuin die wordt afgesloten door beveiligingstape.

Op de veranda van de eerbiedwaardige White Swan op Greytown’s Main St, er is niemand die in de ochtendzon kan converseren.

In Featherston is het vrijwel hetzelfde, afgezien van de vreemde tuinman die hun planten water geeft of een winkelier die zijn gevel waterstraalt.

Anthony Belshaw was een van de weinige mensen op donderdagochtend 26 maart in Martinborough.

PIERS FULLER / STUFF

Anthony Belshaw was een van de weinige mensen die donderdagochtend 26 maart in Martinborough op pad was.

In het oosten, langs een eenzame State Highway 53, bevindt Martinborough zich in een zonovergoten sluimer.

Inwoner Anthony Belshaw zegt dat het voelt als een graf. Zo ja, dan is het geen slechte plek om te rusten.

Hawke's Bay-steden waren stil toen de regio werd afgesloten. div >

GEORGIA MEI GILBERTSON

Hawke’s Bay-steden waren stil toen de regio werd afgesloten.

figcaption >

Georgia May Gilbertson in Hastings en Havelock North

“Het is gewoon zo vreemd, nietwaar”, zegt een vrouw terwijl ik haar de straat.

We zijn natuurlijk twee meter van elkaar verwijderd, terwijl we rusten tegen een muur buiten een doorgaans populaire speeltuin in Havelock North.

Er zijn geen kinderen, alleen de twee rustieke silhouetten van een meisje en een jongen, slingerend aan de takken van een oude tandvleesboom die zachtjes fluistert in de wind.

De vrouw vertelt me ​​dat ze in een rij herenhuizen woont, aan een rustige laan aan de andere kant van Havelock North. Veel van haar buren zijn oudere mensen die hun families wekenlang niet kunnen zien.

“Woensdagavond zaten we allemaal voor onze huizen, meters uit elkaar, met een glas wijn, en het was hilarisch”, zegt de vrouw.

Ze begint te word huilerig, “een van de dames belde me op en zei ‘je hebt geen idee wat een verschil dat maakte voor mijn dag'”.

De stilte rolt door het dorp, afgezien van de vreemde kreet van kinderen in hun achtertuin die niet meer naar school kunnen.

Een verwarde moeder duwt met haar twee kinderen een kinderwagen en beveelt een van hen de lege weg te verlaten.

De jongste probeert haar ervan te overtuigen dat ze zeven is, maar ze is eigenlijk alleen vier.

In Hastings wachten feloranje vuilniszakken en prullenbakken tot ze worden opgehaald. Een Cyperse kat wast zich graag in de zon buiten St Joseph’s School; hij is er de meeste dagen, maar ziet er meer tevreden uit dan normaal om het voetpad voor zichzelf te hebben.

De beroemde sculpturen van schapen staan ​​stil onder de klokkentoren.

Chloe – het zwarte schaap – draagt ​​een fietshelm in militaire stijl. Molly, Polly, Sally en Susie hebben er geen, maar ze blijven aan elkaar plakken.

Ze zijn klaar voor de strijd tegen Covid-19. We zijn allemaal.

Een verlaten Napier CBD op de eerste dag van de sluiting van Covid-19.

MARTY SHARPE / STUFF

Een verlaten Napier CBD op de eerste dag van de Covid-19-lockdown.

Marty Sharpe in Napier

Napier CBD op de eerste dag van de sluiting van Covid-19 is onderdeel van Yom Kippur Day en gedeeltelijk WH Auden.

On Yom Kippur, de ‘verzoendag’ van het jodendom, Israël zwijgt, terwijl mensen vasten en thuis blijven.

Het is een griezelige en onvergetelijke ervaring om op deze dag door de straten van Israël te wandelen. Verkeerslichten knipperen, maar er zijn geen auto’s, en het enige geluid is het gezang van vogels en misschien dat van lachende kinderen.

Zo is Napier donderdag. Er is een vreemde persoon die loopt of fietst of een apotheek binnengaat, maar geen paniek meer in de winkels.

Het is stil genoeg om bladeren te horen waaien langs verlaten straten in een warm, licht en ook niet westelijk.

Napier's Toby Donaldson geniet van de rustigere straten.

Marty Sharpe

Napier’s Toby Donaldson geniet van de rustigere straten.

Ik vind Toby Donaldson, een lokale dakloze, die rookt en het kruiswoordraadsel van de krant doen in wat normaal gesproken een drukke stadsstraat is.

“Ik geniet hiervan. Er is niemand die me lastigvalt. Meestal staan ​​de voetpaden vol met mensen die naar hun telefoon kijken en niet wijken . Dit is leuk “, zegt hij.

De vogels en planten zien er tegenwoordig anders uit, ze hebben meer controle. De ordelijke rijen vlasstruiken, toetoe en de pohutukawa lijken klaar om te vertakken om dit land in Tsjernobyl-stijl terug te winnen. Misschien is dat gewoon paridie veroorzaakt door Covid van mijn kant.

En W. H. Auden? Het is volledig uit de context – en behoorlijk onnauwkeurig in dit tijdperk, dus vergeef me, maar deze scènes van een verlaten Napier kunnen me niet aan zijn regels doen denken:

“Stop alle klokken, snijd aan de telefoon,
Voorkom dat de hond blaft met sappig bot,
Zet de piano stil en met gedempte trommel
Haal de kist tevoorschijn, laat de rouwenden kom “

Maar misschien is dat gewoon door Covid veroorzaakte sentimentaliteit van mijn kant.

 Groepen op het strand van Owhiro Bay hielden afstand. img>

NIKKI MACDONALD / STUFF

Groepen op het strand van Owhiro Bay hielden afstand. p >

Nikki Macdonald in Owhiro en Island Bays

Niemand vertelde de meeuwen dat er geen sociale bijeenkomsten waren. Daar zaten ze – zoals altijd – in een groepje bij de monding van de beek op de hoek van Owhiro Bay.

De veerboten waren er ook nog, en gleden nog steeds over de horizon richting Marlborough.

De hond moest nog steeds blaffen naar de vuilnisman, terwijl hij gele zakken afval in zijn busje gooide.

Maar de prullenbak stond vol met lege Carlsbergs en het groene krat met kombucha-flessen van hun buurman en Jameson Irish whisky , blijft vrijgesteld.

In veel opzichten had het elke dag kunnen zijn in deze rustige baai met uitzicht op Cook Strait.

Twee jonge jongens in hoodies schoven stenen in de golven en kinderen raakten elkaar tenen in de branding. Een moeder sleepte haar schuilplaats voor giraffen naar het strand, baby voorop, jongen op sleeptouw. Moeders en vaders fietsten met peuters in aanhangwagens over het water. Lopers renden, zoals ze altijd doen.

Zelfs de Bata-fabriek, die rubberlaarzen maakt, leek nog steeds te werken.

Maar de enige flikkering van beweging op de school was de zwaai van bomen in de wind. Een enkele wegkegel had het parkeerterrein voor zichzelf.

Midden op een weekdag liep een man in de werkende leeftijd herhalingen, voorwaarts en achterwaarts, voorwaarts en achterwaarts, op het basketbalveld naast de school.

De straten zaten nog vol met auto’s, van vintage Vauxhalls tot Nissan Utes. Maar ze gingen bijna allemaal nergens heen.

Drie tieners liepen op een golden retriever en trommelden met een stok tegen de relingen van de brug. Het geluid werd opgeslokt door een passerende drolentaxi – de vrachtwagens die rioolwater vervoeren tussen Moa Point en de stortplaats sneden nog steeds om de paar seconden de stilte.

Een jonge jongen gooide stenen naar zijn grote zus op het strand. ‘Muuuuuum’, riep ze uit protest. Sommige dingen blijven altijd hetzelfde.

Andre Chumko in Upper Hutt

Er staat vandaag wind in de lucht.

Het is altijd stil, maar nooit zo stil.

Mensen lopen over straat en turen naar ramen met een tweede sceptische blik die er voorheen niet was. Het zijn onbekende ogen.

Er is al minstens één bevestigd geval in Upper Hutt.

Maar voor alle ongebreidelde paranoia die wild wordt bij het zien van een persoon die een masker draagt, er heerst een griezelige kalmte in de buitenwijken.

Die tweede blik – hoewel sceptisch, maar een beetje nieuwsgierig – is ook geruststellend.

Het zegt dat we allemaal weten dat we hier samen in zijn.

Dit is hun wandeling en later ben ik aan de beurt.

Later zal ik met die tweede te lange blik in de ramen kijken. Later zal ik mijn nieuwsgierigheid kunnen voeden naar de mensen om me heen.

Die mensen die ik niet ken. Die mensen die tot nu toe gezichtsloos waren.

Misschien, in een tijd waarin ons als natie scheiding en isolatie is gevraagd, is de les die we allemaal kunnen leren er een van connectiviteit.

Nu kijken we omhoog van onze schermen. Naar buiten gaan in onze gemeenschappen en diegenen zien die we tot nu toe niet hebben opgemerkt.

En er klinkt een stilte. Er is vrede.

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