Chlöe Swarbrick: Auckland Central MP

We’ve done this before and we can do it again. While the ‘unprecedented’ clichés recede in the more than a year since Covid-19 first hit our shores, we’ve learnt a lot and evolved our systems accordingly, but unfortunately so too has this regularly mutating virus.

The Delta strain is doubly more transmissible than its ‘ancestral’ strain, and we’ve seen just how critically valuable our snap lockdown was as locations of interest rippled across the city and down our country, contacts and case numbers growing, but controlled.

Walking down an eerily quiet Ponsonby Road for some state-sanctioned exercise during Alert Level 4, there’s a strange sense of pride in how we’re all doing this together, apart. On the scale of disruption, a global pandemic is really up there. There are some fascinating lessons in that for the challenges we’re so evidently strong, creative and collaborative enough to confront - like that facing our climate, but that’s an article for another day.

It’s strange to think that just a few weeks ago, one could enjoy a spontaneous evening at Ockhee, followed by some Duck Island dessert and a round at Ponsonby Pool Hall. Lockdowns can give us some space from those norms to reflect on what we take for granted, what we value, and where we’re going.

But we need to remember that these lockdowns are not experienced equally across the bubbles that fill our city.

We know that for many of our small business owners and employees, particularly in hospitality and retail, that these can be incredibly difficult times. We know that for those without shelter, secure income or food supply, each day is somehow discovered to be even more precarious than before the pandemic. For these reasons, I want to make sure everyone across Auckland Central knows that my brilliant team and I are working constantly to help with anyone experiencing issues, unclear of their rights or entitlements, or in need of some help. Please, do not hesitate to email us.

The weekend prior to the week that brought us into Level 4 lockdown, I had the great privilege of hosting a public meeting around the future of our city’s waterfront with the wonderful insights of our local councillor Pippa Coom, Waitematā local board member Kerrin Leoni, architect and urbanist Julie Stout and economist Shane Vuletich. We unpacked some of the visionary ideas on design of, and public access to, our Waitematā Harbour from the heart of the city.
We discussed the costs of action and the costs of inaction, tackling the vexed question of the port and its kilometres of reclamation. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t agree that it’ll be moving at some point, but the challenges appear to be a matter of when, where, and who pays. It’s for these reasons that I’ve stayed engaged with the Minister for Transport, Michael Wood, on the critical National Port Strategy.

But when crisis calls, there’s a massive shift in priorities, and we act accordingly.

For the past weeks, I’ve spent much of my day on the phone, in the emails and on Zooms across our constituency and – virtually – in Parliament. I’m stoked to have worked with our incredible Northern Region Health Coordination Centre to have facilitated a dedicated walk-in testing station in the city centre for the more than third of people who don’t own a car in our electorate. I’ve been speaking every other day to our front-line NGOs, business associations, schools, local board members, health centres and more to help and advocate for our communities.

Most importantly, though, I’m here to help you. If there’s anything we can do to support you during this most ‘unprecedented’ time, until we can all walk back down Ponsonby Road for some impromptu ice-cream and pool, please give us a shout. (Chlöe Swarbrick)

Chlöe Swarbrick, T: 09 378 4810, E: chloe.swarbrick@parliament.govt.nz

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