In my introduction to my new book, This Is Us – New Zealanders abroad during covid, I concluded with the famous words of the late great Fred Dagg, “We Don’t know how lucky we are”. Check out the video here.

I was reminded 0f that again this morning as London goes up a level to Tier 4. My daughter Lulu lives there along with tens of thousands of other Kiwis. This Christmas there are still a million New Zealanders overseas in various forms of lockdown. For many the next few weeks will be particularly hard.

The words below are the foreword to my book, written by Corinne Ambler. She was in Budapest when I interviewed her, has returned to New Zealand for the next month or so and is due back in Hungary at the end of January. Please read it, especially the last paragraph. Our family members, friends, acquaintances, colleagues; they’ll need more of that resilience.

When Pete Carter asked if he could interview me about his “This is Us” expats project, my reaction was an immediate and resounding yes. Looking back, it was probably a way to process some of the anxious thoughts swirling in my head and the increasing and irrational feeling of panic as the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world.

Hungary was in lockdown, I was alone in my bubble with my cat, and New Zealand wasn’t allowing any flights in. My mum and sister had just cancelled their trip to visit me. It was a scary time, and even worse, I was 18,000km from home.

Talking to Pete was so cathartic and when he told me he’d spoken to hundreds of other Kiwis overseas I started seeking out some of their stories. I loved reading about Lawrence – a softball coach in Prague. He was so matter-of-fact about giving himself daily dialysis, and during a stint in hospital he decided to open a Kiwi pie business. How awesome is that? Then there was horse groom Angus who turned 21 during lockdown in Britain. I also remember Tania, a primary school teacher in Dublin who would go on long walks and cry.

As I read about their lives, I cried also, as I suddenly realised I was not alone. It was a relief to know what I was feeling was normal, and to hear about other Kiwis longing for home, for black sand beaches, for fish and chips and pies, and, most importantly, for their families.   

However, I was most struck by their resilience. Every single one of them is a hero to me. We are a resilient nation anyway, but these are ordinary people going through extraordinary times with humour, grace, courage and empathy. I’m proud of them. I’m proud of us. This is us.

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This Is Us – New Zealanders Overseas during covid is a collection of nearly 200 interviews conducted in 75 countries during 2020.

It is currently only available on Amazon. Print to orders have been arriving in the UK and US in two or three days. I haven’t yet seen a copy myself. 

Amazon dot com 

Amazon UK

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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