Wellington Scoop

Lockdown, and history

by Lindsay Shelton
Level 4 life has been so quiet in my suburb that there’s almost nothing to write about.

Well, I mustn’t forget that a local dairy was robbed a few nights ago. The robbers cut the cable to the CCTV camera, and then took all the cigarettes from the cupboard, as well as some food. No one has been arrested yet.

But the police have arrested someone else. As well as telling us that they’ll be watching us even though we are being well behaved during lockdown (“an amazing level of compliance”), they announced that they’d arrested a man who they believed was responsible for nine months of car thefts and burglaries in Wellington.

They found him in Levin – which we’ll soon be able to reach in half the time if the claims about Transmission Gully prove to be real. But the lockdown is affecting Transmission Gully – the Government told us this week that it’s not likely to make its official opening date next month.

What else to report?

Almost everyone is wearing masks this time.

Working from home is proving to be a challenge, though some people don’t seem to have enough to do:

The Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (too much time on its hands?) organised a competition for “best lockdown photos,” with five prizes of eatery vouchers. (That’ll be good for our economic development.)

The Wellington City Council sent two otherwise unoccupied staff photographers into the streets to photograph the lockdown. Socially distanced, no doubt. But who knew that the council needed to employ two photographers?

One of the city council’s level 4 messages hasn’t been working – green bins full of bottles have become a feature of suburban streets since lockdown.


No one seemed to know that the council wasn’t collecting them.

This morning the council tried again with its anti-bottle message. But many of the bins have stayed in the streets. And there is extra confusion because in Lower Hutt bottles are being accepted for recycling.

Away from the otherwise empty streets, the greatest excitement during lockdown at home has been to watch history in the making, on Freeview’s Al Jazeera channel. There’ve been two other historic airlifts (Berlin 1948-49 which brought in supplies and didn’t rescue people; and Saigon in 1975, when 7000 people were flown out of Vietnam) but we didn’t see any images of these events until days or weeks after they’d happened.

Thanks to television technology and the bravery of Al Jazeera’s correspondents, we’ve been able to watch the airlift from Kabul as it’s been happening. And it’s been enormous – the USA has flown out more than 110,000 people since the Taliban takeover, with Al Jazeera reporters and camera teams staying in the streets and filing live reports from the mayhem.

Among them, New Zealander Charlotte Bellis, who has been based in Afghanistan for Al Jazeera for more than three years.

Other news organisations including the BBC also have journalists on the ground in Kabul, but their broadcasts are behind a paywall. Whereas Al Jazeera (funded in part by the government of Qatar) provides its 24-hour television news service for New Zealanders without charge. Enabling us to watch history being made, as we are staying at home behind our cautiously closed doors.

Charlotte Bellis reports from inside Kabul Airport after Taliban take control from Americans


  1. Claire, 29. August 2021, 22:21

    I have noticed more cars on the streets this lockdown. On Constable, then on Cobham Drive – not sure you could saunter across that road even now. And heaps of people out today walking, mostly with masks.

  2. Codger, 30. August 2021, 8:28

    It’s the panting runners who are the big worry.

  3. D'Esterre, 30. August 2021, 10:20

    I note this from WCC: “The Delta variant is highly transmissible, and glass recycling is predominantly bottles which may carry saliva residue.” A couple of things about that. Last week, the yellow-top bins were emptied here. There would have been many drink cans and plastic bottles in those bins. There would definitely have been saliva residue on them. Bottle crates contain many wine and spirits bottles. Surely nobody’s suggesting that citizens drink directly from them?

    In any event, this is a coronavirus, related to that which causes the common cold. It’s airborne, and highly contagious in enclosed spaces, not out in the open. We need to be concerned about aerosols, not saliva residue.

  4. Ms Green, 30. August 2021, 11:47

    Yes Codger – the panting runners/mountain bikers without masks, leaving clouds and sprays of goodness what for me to walk/breathe into, have driven me off the bush tracks as a masked panting walker trying to protect those around me. Not complaining … well complaining I suppose. Where will I next walk?

  5. Toni, 30. August 2021, 14:04

    Coming back from Australia early in the year I was in MIQ and running was not allowed in the exercise areas to prevent transmission of the virus. Therefore, I am surprised this danger has not been mentioned in the covid updates. Surely people walking along behind, or being passed by runners, have a chance of encountering the runners’ bodily secretions still in the air?

  6. A J Corlett, 30. August 2021, 18:20

    The decline of civilization: We’re supposed to pour the contents of bottles into glasses, and drink out of them, not drink out of bottles!


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