By John Subritzky
It has been a challenging spring in the Whau.
The snap lockdown in August threw many people’s lives and businesses into turmoil. After enjoying covid-free status for months, suddenly, we crashed into a hard lockdown with just a few hours’ notice. But this time, it wasn’t someone else, somewhere else. It was in the heart of our community, with local colleges and supermarkets implicated. Contact tracing and emails brought the reality home that many people could have been exposed.
Long lines formed at testing stations, and people were isolated, waiting for their results and worrying. Unfortunately, many younger people have been infected this time around, which was a huge concern for parents. Fortunately, there were relatively few cases in the Whau, but it took a while to find out.
The next blow to hit was the terrorist attack at Countdown, New Lynn. This wasn’t somewhere far away, but right where many people go every week, and a place that is part of their lives. We all wondered, ‘how could this happen here?’ A video posted from a customer at the store onto local Facebook groups got picked up by TV and shown repeatedly. Why were people still trying to get into the store while people were being stabbed? The video showed the confusion that happens during such an event.
A few days later, accounts emerged about what it was like to be inside during the attack. Ex paramedic, Ross Tomlinson, gave a vivid narrative to NZ Herald. In the immediate aftermath, he was able to provide urgent assistance to some of the victims. Stabilising them so quickly helped avoid deaths.
Rodney Khan confronted the attacker while a woman was being stabbed. Rodney yelled at the offender, who then stopped stabbing the woman. Rodney was carrying two cans which he threw at the terrorist. It is possible that this act of bravery saved the woman's life. However, Khan suffered a dislocated shoulder after falling over once the attacker chased him. Rodney says, “I had to go and do something because that’s someone’s mother, someone’s grandmother. I just couldn’t bear it.”
Hope comes from people stepping up in a crisis to help others in the community.
There will be a long tail to this incident as multiple investigations are carried out. When the attacker wanted to renounce his citizenship and leave NZ, were we too slow in processing that? That he was living in nearby Glen Eden was a shock.
As I write, we are going down alert levels. (Please, God, I hope that this is still true when people read this!) The vaccine gives us hope for living in a covid world. In the near future, it looks like everyone will have covid antibodies in their system. But, for a short while, we still have a choice whether we get them from a vaccine or from covid. I have many anti-vax friends and some family. While I am thrilled that it looks like NZ could achieve a high vaccination rate, I am fearful about the next stage where vaccine mandates will affect those in our community who are unable or unwilling to take the jab. Vaccine mandates have the potential to continue to tear lives and communities apart.
Maybe our best hope is for a lovely summer, despite what covid brings us.