Covert Covid Creativity…


The first four weeks of our Rāhui (Lockdown) seem to have whizzed by.  I haven’t completed any of the practical chores on my “to-do” list, but have enjoyed the opportunities to create in unexpected ways.

My computer crashed, and it took a week to get it to our Earthsong expert Grant, who fixed it within minutes and then backed everything up  just in’s working again on mains power until a new battery arrives…

My favourite activities continue to be walking and biking in the neighbourhood- including catching on camera some of the quirky creative activities of kids (and olders!).  Across the road, we now have a polar bear occasionally, And a neighbour at Isaac, Tai, has been taking exercise sessions for residents on their balconies by standing in the lane between our two buildings with her loudspeaker and music!

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I’ve also been foraging –  fennel seeds, feijoas, flowers and baby chokos in the last week – triggering within me occasional yearnings to be back at Awhitu for this beautiful, abundant Autumn season.  

Creating collages and stories in my Covid Visual Diary has been fun; and following on-line my 7-year-old great-niece Ellie’s Covid Diary too.

This month has also given me more time to explore Te Reo- in particular two new Youtube Te Reo sessions:

Hemi Kelly’s ” A Māori Phrase a Day”:


and Ataakura Pewhairangi’s “Kura mo ngā mokopuna”  

in addition to our regular Roopu Reo group weekly sessions with Kereama Oliver, now being held on Zoom/Hui topa.

And this week I’ve joined Bike Auckland’s “Big Backyard Bike Count”.  Bike Auckland’s research tells them that 60% of Aucklanders would like to ride bikes more if it felt safer.  Level 4 Lockdown has shown how quickly many Aucklanders come out to enjoy healthy streets, with some cycle way counters up 100% on this time last year- but there’s a huge gap in data on local bike trips. 

So I sit on our apartment deck and record everything passing by on Surrey Crescent below – dogs, pedestrians, cyclists, cars, motorbikes, vans, trucks-  for 15-minute spells, three times a day, and send the info sheets to Bike Auckland.  All for the greater good!



And, of course, I’ve had more time for phone chats and texts with friends and whanau, and for reading books and newspapers.

All the time, I am very aware of the differences between our comfortable lives, and the trauma which many other families are experiencing.  Together, Charmaine and I, like many other New Zealanders,  contribute financially  to a range of community organisations. 

The challenge now is to see whether each of us can integrate these healthier routines into our ongoing lives together, and can continue to contribute towards social change, especially to overcome the major structural   inequities here in Aotearoa.

In addition to the pictures here, you can find more taken during the first week of our Lockdown in Posts Covid 0, Covid 1-2-3, and Covid 4-5-6 after  this newsletter item from Tanya and Charmaine..


As always, I am rather less well organised than my darling Tanya.  I do, however, manage a walk or two almost every day, and sometimes play with the rubber stretchy bands our gym across the road gave clients for Christmas. 

I enjoy the walks – autumn in Grey Lynn is spectacular with the huge plane trees on both sides of many streets  becoming a tunnel of gold, and deep piles of leaves quietening the footpaths.  Most other walkers are friendly- we keep our distances but smile,  sometimes greet,  and I occasionally stop for a longer chat with friends.





The covers of the 6 books in the Curriculum Programme Resource: “Critical Histories of Aotearoa New Zealand”

The first day of this lockdown, Thursday 26 March, I chaired a zoom webinar with 140 participants on-line for the Decol2020 webinar conference.  The presenter was Tamsin Hanly, talking about the books she has written for the teaching of our history in Aotearoa- Maori and Pakeha ..

These six books are an exceptional resource, and I soon realised I had nothing to worry about with the zoom technology, safely on my own laptop in my bedroom, because the tech facilitators on-line (Stephen Blyth and others) were wonderful and managed everything.

You can watch the webinar here:

Once I recovered from my first Zoom experience, I had grand plans for working each day on our “earthtalk” story.  I began by reading earlier drafts of how Tanya and I met, and the first seven years we still lived apart.  And about how we came to buy land and move to Awhitu…then I found Tanya’s diary of her intentions for, and activities around, finding suitable land, for the two years 1990 to 1992.  She was so well-organised and had documented her journey – later ours together- so thoroughly, I felt exhausted and decided that this was all too much for me and I’d better spend some time on practical tasks.


diaries 1992-2014…in my wardrobe

A second set of sturdy steel shelves waiting to be filled..

I started clearing shelf space in my wardrobe, and bringing upstairs the files to do with earthtalk from my storage unit in the basement…

I spent one whole day putting together a simple set of steel shelves for the storage unit, and reorganising stuff between my bedroom and the storage locker…

At other times, we have fancied some wholesome home-made bread, so I tried a packet of gluten-free bread mix, carefully followed the recipe, and took out of the oven a beautiful golden-topped loaf- which, within half an hour, had sunk to half its size.  Tasted ok toasted ok if you cut the sogggy bottom off..My second effort, a sourdough fruit loaf- was better as  bread-and-butter pudding…I still make good muffins, though.

Like Tanya, I have have foraged fennel seeds and feijoas, and also had occasional yearnings to be back on the farm doing preserves…but only faint, and fleeting.  These days  I just hoard/hide  jars and lids in the kitchen cupboards (and my wardrobe, and my downstairs storage unit) in case they come in handy….

Now it’s April, and I suddenly decide it is time to start our tax returns for the year…so my bed has been covered daily in papers to be sorted…but I put them aside and read for an hour or two each night, as usual- I managed to slip into the local library half an hour before it closed for Lockdown and take out five books; and now I’m also exchanging with a neighbour ( covers carefully wiped, handled with tongs, and left outside doors, of course).  

Maybe once this newsletter is finished I’ll start again on the story of earthtalk..

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