Chances are you’ve just picked this special edition of Gulf News out of your letterbox – possibly off a stand in a dairy or supermarket, but most likely from just outside your home. Either way, you haven’t handed over the usual $2 for it.
For regular readers, it’s not your normal routine and for those who don’t usually read us, it’s a little odd to see us land unbidden in your letterbox. A little odd, a little disruptive to the norm, even.
The word disruption has had negative connotations over the years – and man, oh, man, it’s a word we’re going to have to live alongside for the foreseeable future.
Disruption is so unsettling because it reeks of change, of broken promises and quashed objectives. For weeks to come it will mean locked schools, empty streets, silent playgrounds, towel-less beaches, unwalked tracks, too-busy kitchens, squabbles over screens, and that nagging stomach-pit of uncertainty.
Not liking change seems hard-wired into most people and disruption to our habits and pastimes has many of us fearful. Maybe as fearful as for the actual virus that has now shut down normal Kiwi life.
But disruption can also be a force for good. Those with an entrepreneurial and innovative bent claim their disruptor’s tag with pride. Shake the tree a little, they say. See what falls out.
As shaken as many of us feel at this week’s announcement that we’re to spend four weeks at alert level four with the express direction to stay home, there will be some who refuse to be disrupted, instead they’ll forge new ways to stay connected, new ways to work from home, new ways to support the stoic folk who will continue to keep our essential services running, new ways to help the elderly, infirm and lonely, new ways to stay healthy in mind and body, and new ways to provide information, entertainment and solace.
This week’s Gulf News is driven by that spirit. On Tuesday morning, local board chair Cath Handley contacted us wanting to ensure we could be free and delivered to every letterbox on the island so that vital contact phone numbers, email addresses, social media tags and physical addresses could be at everyone’s fingertips.
24 hours later and the group of people who have come together to make this happen is simply too long to list. It’s been testament to how Waiheke comes together.
What we’ve produced is, hopefully, a list of essential services and contacts to help the community through the restrictions. Some of this information may well change or have to be adapted as Waiheke finds its way through this unprecidented response to the Covid-19 crisis, but through the map on page four to the information on healthcare, transport, schools, shops, emergency services and vets up to page 18, we hope that this edition of Gulf News is one that will be able to hang around your house so you always have it at your fingertips if required.
In the process of putting this newspaper together to show people how to get connected to the services they require, it’s also become abundantly clear how interconnected we already are – and the immense levels of goodwill and generosity that helps gel Waiheke.
Peppered between the cold, hard information are glimpses of vast stories of selflessness and community-minded action – the new volunteer database, the healthcare professionals, the meals on wheels, the volunteer firefighters, the police, the Coastguard who will transport any Covid-19 cases requiring mainland hospitalisation, the fundraising ocean swimmers, the waiata singers…
And so in this edition there are still stories about how all of us on the island connect with each other – how we create, how we spend our free time, and how we look after the environment in which we live.
Over the coming weeks, Gulf News will continue to endeavour to keep Waiheke connected. We believe it’s a vital part of what we do. And between the important information around restrictions and health and wellbeing, we will also strive to keep telling stories about who we are and how we’re dealing with this disruption. And for that, we’ll need your help too.
So kia kaha, kia atawhai, Waiheke, stay strong, show kindness. And let’s stay connected. • James Belfield