UK lockdown forces Ngāti Rānana members to return home

By Bronson Perich

COVID-19 emergency measures have sent many members of London-based kapa haka Ngāti Rānana home. Ngāti Rānana kaihaka Luke and Roimata Claasen, practice law in London and are navigating through hard times.

“It costs so much to live here. So that’s led to a lot of our Ngāti Rānana members actually have left and gone home,” Luke Claasen says.

London is home to almost nine million people. Before COVID, its bustling economy was larger than that of several small countries put together. That gave the Claasen whānau more than enough mahi as practicing lawyers.

Now that the economy has come to a standstill, work is drying up.

“Roimata is working full-time, but for myself, I’ve taken on short term contracts,” Luke Claasen says.

“We’ve got friends that are lawyers that have been furloughed. So they’ve been stood down on partial pay.”

Having restricted access to shops meant that people were initially stockpiling kai. Some even took to trying their hand at baking for the first time, causing a shortage of basic ingredients. Mothers struggled to find infant formula. Roimata Claasen says at one point, queues were so long that they snaked out of shops on to the footpaths.

“For some, there was a shortage of baking ingredients. It seems like everyone jumped on the sourdough trend and was baking for the first time in their lives. So there was no flour, and no sugar, that sort of thing,” Roimata Claasen says.

Ngāti Rānana no longer practises at New Zealand House. But using the internet has been problematic. Roimata Claasen says that the 30-40 practising would cause their online tools to crash. 

Going forward, the London couple plans to stick it out for at least, till the end of 2021.