Thank you everyone and well done!
A Hamilton resident suggested recently I should keep a diary “to record what you are experiencing and doing during these unprecedented times”.
While I liked the idea, the astonishing array of Covid-related issues my constituents (and national organisations for which I have Caucus responsibility) kept seeking help with left no time for that, but I decided some details would be appropriate for this month’s column.
A lovely feature of recent weeks has been seeing people rallying around one another to help the elderly with shopping and picking up prescriptions, while people have had more time to stop for chats when out walking and to show an interest in each other’s welfare. I think we’ve all got to know our neighbours much better, albeit from two metres distance!
The teddy bears displayed in so many windows and gardens have been a delight. I loved witnessing the joy they brought to young and old as family groups were out seeing how many they could spot. There were some particularly appealing Easter displays in our neighbourhood: a picture of one of my favourites accompanies this column.
Last month I launched an initiative for Waikato children to show their appreciation to essential workers through artwork. While it was a competition with prizes available, I saw it more as an opportunity for families to discuss all the wonderful work that so many continued to do while we were in lockdown, and a creative way to enable their children to express their gratitude. Pictures that I was able to send to some essential workers were warmly received.
I was grateful to Lewis Road Creamery for generously sponsoring the competition (with ice cream vouchers!) and the Waikato Times for publishing the winning art entries.
By Anna-Grace Stokes, 9, Cambridge East School
Of course, it’s not just those working in essential services who deserve our gratitude.
Many people have faced distressing challenges and personal circumstances and there has been a lot of suffering throughout the country.
These challenging times have brought out the best in many people. Seeing so many in our community going out of their way to keep feeding and accommodating the homeless, assisting vulnerable elderly people, those with disabilities, and so on, has been humbling and heart-warming.
My electorate agents and executive assistant have been working hard assisting my constituents and organisations with numerous challenges and requests for help since the country entered Covid Alert Level 2, and I’m so grateful for all they have done.
The email deluge has been staggering, and impossible to keep up with. At the start of this year I had no idea what a Zoom meeting was. Now I’ve participated in so many I wish I had shares in the company!
Helping constituents stranded overseas was challenging with few international flights available, and travel within countries to get to airports severely restricted.
A lot of local businesses encountered delays obtaining the government’s wage subsidy because of the huge demand for those payments. I was pleased that we were able to help most of those who contacted me to overcome that problem.
Accessing Covid testing and PPE gear challenged many. As National’s spokesperson for Seniors, I was particularly concerned about the additional stress this brought to staff and residents in rest homes throughout New Zealand, as they were among our most vulnerable citizens.
I am full of gratitude and admiration for all the wonderful organisations, essential worker staff and volunteers who did so much to assist so many, often working long hours and making considerable personal sacrifices in the process.
Everyone who could has helped others in some way. Well done and bless you all!