“Our Papatoetoe home is quieter than normal; literally you can hear the fantails chirping clearly and loudly amongst the panga trees, and for us in this peace, it felt downright bizarre.
“It is an eerie feeling, but hopefully as days go on, the mood changes, and we normalise to the more hectic, crazily funny noisy home.”
Nicholas-Pierre is thankful they have a spacious home.
She has moved a desk into the lounge for work and studies, MahiNa has her bedroom and spaces, and Narii loves his garage Man-cave with all the necessities – even a built-in bar.
“These arrangements will ensure will we won’t do harm to each other during the lockdown,” she laughs.
She became anxious in mid-January when they visited their children in Sydney during the Australia’s bushfires.
Listening and watching the news of China's and Italy’s tragedy, and Italy of Covi-d19 was frightening for her.
A month ago, her grandson Manarangi's Sydney school closed due to a student suspected of the virus.
“That really hit home for us,” she says. “Patience and positive attitude in supporting each other is vital through these challenging times.”
She is worried and anxious of the unknown. “The lockdown could be longer, nobody knows.
“I worry about our son, his partner and our grandchildren in Australia; I wish they were with us or near us.
“Praise the Lord they are all in tip-top shape, full of positiveness and with high spirits.
“It’s a mother thing, I think with the worry; we facetime twice a day, to see how they are.
“I can honestly admit that my faith has become stronger and deeper if that makes sense, more so now.”
Not touching, hugging or kissing family members is difficult.
“I would always kiss and hug when meeting and fare welling people; our tradition is so hard to not do.”
Her family unveiled the head stone of her brother in law on Saturday.
“It was a strange and awkward time, the no hugging, no kissing, distancing and so forth.
“But I am a hugger so, that all went out the window…”
So far, MahiNa has coped well and is true to the Girl Guide motto to “be prepared”.
“She is an organised, independent individual and nagged me to ensure we would be prepared for supplies including food for her cat – thank goodness I listened.”
A student at Papatoetoe High school, Mahina has lessons online.
Teachers are in touch with students, via email and conference live, parents are well informed by the principal and Board of Trustees.
As the chairperson of the school board, Anne is aware of the Ministry of Education hub options, programmes and various types of learning platforms during lock down; “more importantly in full support of the wellbeing, wellness and safety of our tauira’s and kaiako’s of our Kura.”
Preparations for the lock down included fully stocked pantry and fridge.
This included a first aid kit, batteries, candles, sanitizers, panadol, gas bottle and world famous toilet paper.
For Nicholas-Pierre preparations reminded her of home, “when we use to prepare for cyclones in Rarotonga, the only difference is Covid-19 orders you to stay home during the lock down duration and hygiene is preached to the max.”
She recalls her childhood during cyclones, “we would walk about the village of Ruatonga to collect fallen fruit, tupaorooro (slide) down the rapid flows of the infamous Ruatonga/Avatiu Bridge, and row tinny vaka’s (I don't think anyone does that anymore).”
At present she is thinking of starting a jazzercize class, “it’s time to dig out the sweat band, leotards, tights, cycle, treadmill and dumb bells…”
She has studies to keep up with and believes being occupied will keep her from boredom.
“We have plenty to do, screen printing, gardening, might do some house painting, and there’s social media.
“As long I distance myself from the fridge and pantry, I’ll be right.”
The company she is employed with has taken the pandemic crisis seriously.
“They have ensured employees are well looked after financially, emotionally and physically.
“My awesome company executed a Covid19 special leave for the next 4 weeks, hands to the pump - where every employee is taken care in remuneration.
“This means special leave does not impact other entitlement such as sick or annual leave.
She fears for the Cook Islands, for its vulnerability and believes a deadline on visitors to Rarotonga on international flights should have already been in place; and only accept residents to return on incoming flights.
Perhaps tourists already in Rarotonga should've been flown out to New Zealand much earlier, so they can return to their homelands, she said.
“The health care system there isn’t equipped to take this on in large; all the bigger countries closed their borders earlier, why not Rarotonga? Better safe than sorry.”
Anne Nicholas-Pierre and family send their love to the Cook Islands and to the Capital in Avatiu.
Nga Mihi Nui Kia tatou katoa.