Wellington Scoop

Waking up to lockdown

lockdown on waterfront Photo: RNZ / Jake McKee

by Kirsty Frame of RNZ
For the first time in 15 months, Wellington woke up to a lockdown this morning.

Down Lambton Quay, chirping birds could be heard loudly in the trees – not drowned out by vehicles or people. From mid-morning onwards, the city had come more alive – at least in alert level 4 terms – with a small, but steady, dribble of people making their way around.

Testing stations began to expand, cars queuing down the street as Wellington residents waited for Covid-19 tests.

Some motorists at the Taranaki Street station gave up and drove away without testing.

One woman in the queue said it was concerning that people were not getting tested because of the wait time, and said she would be staying as long as it took to get tested.

Capital and Coast District Health Board extended opening hours for its testing stations, but was restricting testing to those with symptoms or who may have been in locations of interest.

Many in the line for a test had symptoms, and several people admitted they probably should have been tested sooner.

A woman waiting in the queue told RNZ: “Well I hadn’t thought of it actually, until we were in lockdown, and then I thought ‘oh my goodness, I better get tested’.”

Robert Erskine, who travelled from Australia to New Zealand with his wife to avoid lockdowns, woke up in a locked down city again. He was out today to get a Covid-19 test.

lockdown Taranaki St Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Wellingtonians think people in the city have become Covid-19 complacent – but many are optimistic about people doing their part over the coming days because we’ve been through this before.

In the middle of Wellington’s largest food festival, kai was the forefront of many Wellingtonians focus today.

Wellington on a Plate has paused its month-long city-wide festival. The festival’s chief Executive Sarah Meikle said their focus was on providing support for their hospitality community.

“Bearing in mind they are in the start of the Burger Wellington portion of WOAP, which is notoriously very well attended, it’s safe to say there are large volumes of stock in people’s fridges worth a lot of money.”

There was kitchen chaos last night across the city’s restaurants, as staff had little time to figure out what to do with excess produce.

Restaurant owner Mike Egan gave away around $2000 worth of produce to his staff and their bubbles. Egan, who is also president of the New Zealand Restaurants Association, said the snap lockdown was disappointing, but the industry was resilient.

When cafe owner Kristine Bartley heard the news, she and her staff went down to the cafe and started cooking. “It really dawned on us once we had everything on the counter, it was a massive pile of food that needed to be eaten”

Bartley posted on social media that they were giving away containers full of food, and within an hour the bench was empty again.

About 2500 unused school meals from catering company Kāpura were donated across the Wellington City Mission, Te Kakaono O Te Aroha Marae, and Compassion Soup Kitchen.

Even with donations, concerns were being raised about those in the city struggling to put food on their plates during the nation-wide snap lockdown.

Kahungunu ki Pōneke Community Services spent the night checking on those at emergency housing and other facilities. Today, teams delivered food and hygiene parcels.

Amidst supermarket panic-buying across the city, the Wellington City Mission will still be providing for those in need. The City Mission has set up contactless grocery delivery for those who would otherwise shop at its Social Supermarket.

The supermarket, which opened earlier this year, provides free groceries and essential items and allows shoppers to choose their own.

City Missioner Murray Edridge said he wants to remind people the Mission is here for them. “We want to remind people that they’re not on their own. Even though for us this is a three lock down, people shouldn’t be anxious and worried, and for people to contact us if they need any support at this time,” he said.


  1. michael, 19. August 2021, 17:01

    Has anyone noticed the huge increase in meat prices at New World Metro over the past day or so?
    Can’t help but feel sorry for the small butcher and fruit and veg shops that cannot open while the supermarkets have a captive market.

  2. Roller blind, 19. August 2021, 18:26

    Michael – you’ll find that butchers will deliver, so it’s worth your while to look them up. Guys like Gipps St Butcher if you’re in the Karori area are definitely delivering.