N.Z. in lock down: DAYS 45 and 46


Today, the Government will make an announcement that determines the future of the lock down. In doing this, they will indirectly influence the end date for the New Zealand In Lock Down diary, and when the return to normal transmission will resume. For the remainder of lock down the diary will publish every second day.

Below is the entry for DAYS 45 and 46 of New Zealand in lock down as we look to end one of the grimmest peace time periods in New Zealand history.

There has been a distinct positive side to the COVID19 lock down. The enforced time off work, time in our respective bubbles at home has forced many people to get creative with how they spent their time. From trying new things like baking and crafts to working on maintenance jobs around the house, it would be a lie to say COVID19 lock down was all bad.

In our bubble, my father has been steadily knocking off a long list of maintenance jobs around the property, some of which date back decades. They include re-levelling the cobble path from the house to the garage. This is a more recent task that was started last week. Prior to that, joining was put in place where the brick facade of the house meets the roof so that water cannot seep into the house. The underside of the ceiling was given a new coat of paint

I have continued to make use of the lock down period. Whilst my father was busy outside, I got on with my study at a time when I was seriously struggling with my postgraduate paper and wondering if I would have to with draw from it.  Because of this, I have been able to claw my way back into the paper and and feel more confident than I did in March of completing it.

Outside of my study, I have spent anywhere between 30 minutes and 120 minutes a day walking, covering anywhere between 3 kilometres and nearly 12 kilometres. I have been doing two types of walking. You can see from the Google Earth image I have made, how the two types differ:

  • Infill walking – walking the length of a street in both directions by crossing the road just before I reach the end and walking down the other side, and takes considerably longer to do, whilst staying near home
  • Area walking – walking a path that rings in an area on the map, which I might do infill walking in later, which means one will walk considerably further from home than if they did infill walking

It has given me a good chance to look at neighbours and say “Hi” to people whilst passing. I have gone down streets in nearby suburbs that I never knew existed. I have walked through areas with state housing, often in quite run down state and through areas with B.M.W. cars and flash four bedroom houses with electric gates, beautiful gardens, swimming pools and even tennis courts. I have been to dairies and service stations I have not been to in the past. It is also deceptive in terms of how far I have walked. Take a guess at how far I have walked. Then take a second guess based on the first at how far you think I might walk if I am out for say 90 minutes a day at a steady pace by the time lock down ends.

N.Z. in lock down: DAY 43


Yesterday was DAY 43 of New Zealand in lock down as we fight the COVID19 pandemic.

I do not actually have a huge amount to say at the moment. After six weeks of writing an item a day, every day, I am running out of things to say. The last six weeks have been very interesting in that I’ve been able to learn a few things about myself. Notably:

  • I like walking much more than I thought – like every day for anywhere between 40-120 minutes, walking up to 11 kilometres per walk; how much fun it is to then map it on Google Maps and get it to calculate how far I have walked
  • I thought I would be having a beer a day every day, when in actual fact its been more like one or two a week, and I have not hugely missed it
  • Twitter is probably going to replace Facebook as my preference for social media – people seem more honest, the conversations are more meaningful
  • Perhaps in ways I have never been before, I am aware of the restrictions on liberties that COVID19 is having in New Zealand; my conviction that we need to have a national conversation about government power and how it should be appropriately checked and balanced has never been stronger

All of the New Zealand In Lock Down diary articles have had a purpose. The lock down gave me time to think about the state of New Zealand in ways I had never done before, to appreciate what we have and also refocus my mind on where we need to go in the future. I have tried to articulate that as best as I can in the articles.

Are we going to seize an unprecedented national opportunity to reshape New Zealand for the better or are we going to squander it and spend the rest of our lives regretting it?

N.Z. in lock down: DAY 30


Yesterday was DAY 30 of New Zealand in lock down as we try to fight the COVID19 pandemic.

Instead of writing today, I thought I would do a bit of a photo essay so that you can see the effects of lock down through the eyes of a local.

Empty roads have become a distinct feature of my walks around Christchurch in the last few weeks. Completely devoid of traffic, the quiet has been quite startling to take in. The road in the photograph is Fendalton Road at the railway crossing. Normally at 4PM on a Friday, the traffic would be picking up as the working week comes to an end, but on this particular Friday I was able to walk straight onto the traffic island without stopping and no cars came from either direction for more than 2 minutes. Normally the cycle way next to the railway line would be busy with students heading home from school after extra curricular activities, people cycling home from work, people like me out for exercise or on their way to somewhere. It too, was largely devoid of traffic except for families with young children taking their kids out of the house for an hour.

When LEVEL 3 was declared playgrounds across the country were emptied. Local councils put tape across all features – see-saws, slides, swings, fortresses, flying foxes, skating rinks and other features. Lawns have become long and and resemble an unkempt state. At LEVEL 4, parks were completely deserted except for people exercising whilst observing strict social distancing. When the country goes back to LEVEL 3 at the end of Monday, these facilities will still be off limits for another two weeks at least.

In a moment of dystopian thinking this kind of reminded me of the television series Chernobyl, and the sudden abandonment that the city of Pripyat would have experienced. No one able to play on the swings, the slides, the see-saws or merry-go-rounds anymore. None of the useful laughter and happy playing that you’d expect from a child. COVID19 measures might be only temporary, but when you think about the potential transmission of the virus, the playground had a slight Chernobyl-esque look to it.

Today is A.N.Z.A.C. Day, the 105th Anniversary of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landing in France. Normally A.N.Z.A.C. Day is marked by dawn services the length and breadth of the country, ranging from thousands of people attending services in the large cities, to a few hundred attending smaller community services in rural towns. Despite the COVID19 restrictions, on line services, and a “Stand at Dawn” service for those who want to stand at the end of their driveway was held at 6AM. I have included two photos here. The first is of chalk and paper drawings of the famous red poppy done presumably by children as an out door activity.

The second is of poppies that were most probably ordered on line. Note also, the bear next to the lower ones. This was part of an spotting activity that was started for children, but also drew in a lot of adults. The idea was if one had any fluffy bear toys, they displayed them in the window or other prominent place where children and their parents could see them.

And finally, this is a nod to the children whose fun has been put on hold for a few weeks now, and the parents who have had to get creative to find things to keep their children happy. Chalk drawings have been prolific on every walk, with the messages, drawings and their meaning only restricted by the children’s imagination.

N.Z. in lock down: DAY 12


Yesterday was DAY 12 of New Zealand in lock down as we try to fight the COVID19 pandemic.

A rather short post today. I spent much of yesterday attending my university block course, which is being delivered on line. It replaces a block segment that was meant to be delivered at Massey University in person but was cancelled when COVID19 escalated in mid March.

We were able to hear from a respected New Zealand economist named Shamubeel Eaqub, who talked to us about an economists, perspective on urban planning. A lady working for Kainga Ora discussed how the organization which is a combination of three housing agencies that merged was trying to deliver the government agenda on affordable housing. Then we heard from the C.E.O. of Community Housing Aotearoa about social housing, the use of financial and legal instruments to enable affordable housing. Another gentleman working for Harrison Grierson who are one of New Zealand’s leading engineering consultancy firms showed a case study that examined housing growth in the rapidly urbanizing south Auckland/Waikato area.

It was great to hear a range of different perspectives on how New Zealand should move forward in terms of urban planning. Several of them mentioned that affordable housing should not take up more than 30% of disposable income in a household. Also noted was a glut of big houses with 4+ bedrooms being built when the market is screaming for smaller dwellings.

With more teaching content to be delivered today and tomorrow, it also admittedly makes it easier for me to decide what my next blog article will be about.

 

 

N.Z. in lock down: DAY 9


Yesterday was DAY 9 of New Zealand in lock down as we try to fight the COVID19 pandemic.

After taking yesterday off, I tried to focus today on my University study. I am some distance behind in the lectures, which fortunately can be done at ones own pace. However, I want to try to finish the lecture material for the week I am currently working on before we have what was meant to be a 3 day block course starting on Monday, which has now turned into something quite different. I think that my weekend is going to be dominated by study.

The course material that was being looked at this week was about the necessity of council plans, planners and the planning profession. It looked at the first and second generation council plans and critiqued the processes undertaken to get there. I got to see a break down of “the good, the bad and the ugly” of the first generation plans, but immediately started wondering if anything had actually been learnt from them.

Every afternoon about 1530-1600 hours, I put my sneakers on and go for a walk. On days when the weather has looked dodgy or the forecast has been for rain, such as on Sunday (DAY 4) I have restricted it to just a couple of kilometres or about 20-25 minutes relatively brisk walking. On better days like yesterday, the walks have been up to 8-9 kilometres and, lasted about 80 minutes. I go by myself and I walking at speed. I am not stopping for any one, and for the most part do not have to stop for traffic at intersections – with the very vast majority of Christchurch at home, sometimes even on the major routes such as Fendalton Road and nearer to home, Wairakei Road, I can go for a few minutes without seeing a single car.

It is interesting to see how various businesses are handling COVID19. Two service stations within walking distance of my place are open. One has blue tape on the floor every two metres to denote the recommended physical distancing one needs to maintain. The other does not. Both have a plastic shield at the counter with just enough room underneath it to slide coinage and move the EFTPOS machine. Dairies are closed – there are two down the road from me and both are shuttered. Their daylight operating hours have been cut.

A Countdown supermarket about 1.5 kilometres from my place with an underground car park is perhaps a better example of how the rules are being enforced. Although most people are keeping their distance, where the ramp down to the underground car park meets the foyer and main entrance, a staff member is counting people as they enter and leave and sometimes a security guard is present to make sure people stick to the 2 metre rule. Behind the check outs there is blue tape on the floor to indicate where people waiting in line need to stand. I thought that all staff would have masks and gloves, but apparently not so.