This time last year I was about halfway through a project that turned into my last book. I interviewed 184 New Zealanders who were living overseas at the time, about their experience of living where they were under Covid. I approached a couple of publishers but their response, especially of the one who had put out my two previous books, was that by the time the book came out, everyone would be over Covid. Oh dear, if only that was the case.

I pushed the book out through Amazon. I’m proud of it and the stories that are told in there. Unrelated readers have told me how they have been moved emotionally by the breadth of experience and the braveness of what are mainly ordinary New Zealanders living in extraordinary times.

I keep up with my cohort and have met many of the people in the book for coffee or a drink and a catch up despite not knowing them before interviewing. Quite a few check in with me on a regular basis, Hamish from Montreal messaged me yesterday, he’s getting out of Quebec for a holiday on the other side of Canada soon. Moira in Madrid just got back there after an emotional trip home to deal with her father’s ashes.

I know what most of them are up to. I just did a quick tally up of where everyone is now. Just over half appear to be where they were when I talked to them. Just over a quarter have returned home either long term or permanently. Ten percent have moved elsewhere in the world and the remaining ones – I have no idea. At least twenty who are either where they were or who have moved elsewhere have been home in the meantime.

Last night we were out locally at a friend’s house for dinner, a quiet evening with just three couples. Coincidentally, we all have daughters currently living in London, each are there working their first proper career jobs in their different fields. They have all been vaccinated, I know at least two of them have had Covid. All three would like to return home for Christmas before going back to work in London. They have negotiated with their employers to work real time for their two weeks in MIQ (Managed Isolation and Quarantine), they can pay for their own tickets and have come to terms with the $3000 fee to isolate. It is though looking increasingly unlikely that they’ll all be able to come, a shortage of spaces means they’ll have to play the lottery game of getting a spot. It appears easier at the moment to get a ticket to one of Lorde’s upcoming concerts.

David Farrier blogged about this here this morning.


Incidentally my blog was looked at 35,000 times whilst I was on the project in 2020. This on July 17th is my first blog of the year – hmmm!

Photo shows  one of the reason the prodigal daughter wants to return. To meet the new family dog. Fred.




Pete Carter is the author of This is Us. Due out in June 2020 it will be published by Exisle and tells the story of more than 200 New Zealanders in words and pictures. The book is really a portrait of the nation and how it is made up. Pete wrote Our Dog Benji a children’s book illustrated by his nephew, published by EK in 2017. He is also the author of two books of poetry. He has had magazine articles published and poetry in anthologies. As a photographer he has had two solo exhibitions and work included in group exhibitions in NZ and overseas and has sold work to and been commissioned by corporate clients.

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