Whānau of 10 fighting Delta together, with the youngest just three months old

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

Delta is real. That's the message from Syddia Kelly (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Rēhia). She is a mother and grandmother of a whānau of 10 who are in managed isolation dealing with the symptoms of the deadly Delta strain of Covid-19.

She is urging whānau to take it seriously and get vaccinated.

Aches, pains, fevers, sore throat, diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, headaches, a loss of taste or smell, a rash on the skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes are among the symptoms of Covid-19 are hard and those experiencing them are going through one of the toughest times they could possibly ever face. 

Kelly says only: "The muscular pain can be crippling." 

She says she had to get her mind in a space to be able to fight the virus but when it hits the most vulnerable it's hard to take. The youngest of her 10 whānau members is just three months old. 

Three generations of her whānau are in the Holiday Inn in Mangere. In her room is her partner and the two youngest children. She told Te Ao Māori News she video calls her children and mokopuna and describes those calls as "hard," saying "you just want to pick them up."

'My whole whānau is in here'

The words of the loving grandmother as she described the calls: "Sometimes I have to end the call and go into the bathroom and have a tangi because you just want to be there like you would if you were at home."

She was on her way to get a vaccination when she was asked to take a test. A negative was returned but then she found out she was a close contact so had to isolate and take another test, which came back positive. The wave of Delta took over her home.

"My whole whānau is in here, my partner my daughter, son-in-law and my two moko. The babies have had the fever for a day... the three-month-old is getting the blocked nose but that's all so far."

She is determined to share her story so people "know that this virus is very real and it doesn't care about who it hurts or who it takes down in the process."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says it's a story that the government would also like to share. 

"It is one thing for us to stand up here and talk about it but I have not had Covid-19. I have not had the experience of getting that phone call to tell you you have Covid and I am sure the fear it creates in people. I have not had to stand alongside a hospital bed or see someone in my family with Covid-19. Those are the stories that we all need to hear because that is the reason we need everyone to be vaccinated."

A home-cooked kai is on the whānau's mind. But there might be a way to go yet.