What are the people of New Zealand

Barbara Linton, 59, runs the Morepork Riverside Lodge in the Bay of Islands on the North Island of New Zealand with her husband Paul. She also works as a museum guide on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

"We don't see government action as strict in the sense of bad or dictatorial. We see closing our borders as the best way to keep our people and thus our economy as covid-free as possible. It is true that our greatest export, the Tourism has been hit hard, but as a Maori proverb says: 'he tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata' - it's about the people, the people, the people.

For a high-quality bed & breakfast like ours with an international occupancy of 93 percent, the border closure means that business is almost completely slumbering. Our style is to receive guests in our home and show them a piece of kiwi life. But that's not what New Zealanders are looking for on vacation. So we have practically no bookings until February next year. On the other hand, kiwis are now discovering their own land. Well-managed tourism businesses can survive - just like that! Companies like ours have received wage subsidies from the government to keep employees. Iconic sites like the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the first constitution was signed by the British Crown and New Zealand Maori peoples, also received subsidies. So my work as a guide in Waitangi continues and the whole program is offered, albeit for fewer visitors.

Things are tough, but we stay positive. In the meantime, we are working for the Electoral Commission as there are general elections on October 17th. The good thing is that we have more time for our family. During the first seven weeks of lockdown, we were teachers and babysitters for three of our six grandchildren. "