Aussie treatment of Kiwis during Covid led to return home

By Ropata Matthews

Mā te huruhuru ka rere te manu kia hoki atu ki tōna kōhanga

(The flight of the bird comes from its feathers, to return home)

Rikona Andrews has been cutting hair in his West Auckland barber shop for eight months now. But earlier he had a business in Australia.

Also known as Kona the Barber on Social Media, Andrews had made a name for himself creating a Māori environment in his barbershop for whanau living and working in the Gold Coast.

With the breakout of the coronavirus last year and the lack of support from the Australian government for New Zealand citizens, it was an easy decision for him and his whanau to make the move home to Aotearoa.

“One of the hardest things for whanau returning home to Aotearoa is starting over again from scratch,” he says.

 “This is a good time to make the move home with the Trans-Tasman bubble opening to be able to see whanau and loved ones who are still alive.”

For many Māori this gives them an opportunity to return home to Aotearoa to participate and practise Māori customs and traditions that couldn't be upheld due to Covid-19, such as tangihanga, kawe mate and unveilings.

Now the question is whether Kiwis decide to move home or remain in Australia given the announcement of the trans-Tasman bubble made today.