We may be separated from each other, from our churches and gatherings, from our loved ones across the ocean or simply those now two chairs away from us at social gatherings.
Nonetheless we remain connected because of hope, because of our deep sense of faith, and because we are stubbornly resilient.
If there is one thing about us, it is that we are people who can and will weather the storm.
Sitting here in the office looking out over a cool and grey Wellington, my thoughts drift to my wife and parents, my family and friends and colleagues in Rarotonga, wondering if I will see them again before it is Christmas – though with each day it looks more unlikely.
Like us all, no matter where in the world we may be, this is the new normal and we are faced with a pandemic that will take more of our normal, before normality returns again – if it ever does.
As the news changes everyday and we see borders slowly closing as countries protect their people from this disease, the Cook Islands and New Zealand once again look to their relationship.
It is one of mutual respect and consideration and working together to mitigate the risk of contamination in our Ipukarea, and to work also against the huge upheavel this has caused to our tourisim industry.
But it’s not just an industry, like some faceless money generating machine, it is people.
Our people, our mums and dads, cousins and friends who have built accommodations on their land to bring in extra revenue.
It is our uncles and aunties who have small restaurants, cafes and stalls.
It is market vendors who that have mortaged up to build a business and provide a service as well as employment to our many visitors.
And it is our foreign investors who have seen the opportunity in the Cook Islands and have invested into resorts and hotels and joined us in our drive since the 1970s and the vision of Albert Henry, to build an International Airport and open our home to the world.
And it is that same vison and foresight captured in comments this week by my good friend, Aitutaki’s Nick Henry, who said we are all in this together, we will all feel the pain and the stress and as much as possible we need to assure each other that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
And Nick should know, as one of the few who have navigated the ocean on our modern vaka, he has seen the wind change, the sea swells move violently and felt the vaka thrown against the turbulence of wind.
And in the midst of this tempest Nick changed course, found a new compass setting, and found a new way home as our navigators have done for centuries.
This is the resilience we can count on, a resilience birthed on the ocean by our tupuna, and captured this week by Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown’s announcemnt of the Covid-19 national response package, and captured in word when he said at the National Prayer Service, we must do the possible so God can do the impossible.
If ever there was a time we to stand with our navigators, to plot the course for us through this storm then it is now.
And if ever there was a time to work together, no matter where in the world we may be, then this it is now.
And as we take a moment to reflect or pray in the days ahead, let us lift up our leaders, Dr Aumea Herman and her team, and our Prime MInister, Cabinet and government and all its sectors.
They have worked tirelessly to protect our country, to continue to protect our families, our parents, our grandparents and our children, our economy and our country in the midst of this ever changing tide, tossed by the winds of this pandemic.
Like so many of us here in Aotearoa, I am faced with the stark reality that I may not see my home, my wife, parents and family for a little while.
But it is moments like these, where I am so, so proud to be a Cook Islander, as we all should be, for I know our deep faith, our boundless hope, and stubborn resilience, our ability to stand in the storm, sits deep within our hearts.
And that we can depend on each other to get through this together, because our people, standing side by side, have always been our greatest resource ... ko koe ko au ko tatou ... e vaka eke noa.