Isolated Māmā concerned for self-isolators without financial support

By Aroha Mane

Grace Latimer is a Māori Liason officer at the University of Otago and has recently returned from Australia. With the support of her whānau she's already started self-isolating herself. Although she's well prepared she has concerns for other whānau who might not have that financial support.

Day one of self-isolation and loneliness is already setting in.

“It's really different because my family is here most of the time, like my friends, brothers, and nephews. So it's different being alone because I really miss my family,” Latimer says.

The Ministry of Health has not confirmed how many people in NZ are in self-isolation but Dr Ashley Bloomfield says it could be in the hundreds or even thousands.

Dr. Bloomfield says, the main priority for those in isolation is distancing themselves from others:

“For those who have traveled back overseas, from overseas but are A-symptomatic.

"It's essentially about physical distancing, not going to work or school, not going out and socializing.

"But of course it's fine to undertake like gardening, going for a walk or going for a bike ride.”

Fortunately for Latimer, whānau support was organised before she landed.

Latimer says, “My partner is amazing, he went out a brought two weeks of food for me and has found alternative accommodation for the next two weeks.

"So we're fortunate we're able to afford to do this because I'm sure there are other families out there who can't afford.”

Latimer warns others returning on international flights that the customs process is lengthy.

“The first day I arrived back I was exhausted, I'd just returned from Australia.

"The Government’s new customs processing scheme of those returning to NZ, was time-consuming. 

"It took a long time to get from the plane to my car and then home.”

Latimer has 13 days remaining in isolation and will use this time to get in touch with the land and do some korowai work.