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Abu Dhabi to Rubby Blubby - 7 December 2021

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated Chairman Update  

In the Emirates, 100% of their people have been double vaxed, and most of them on their booster vax. They get swabbed every week and there are booths on every street with hotels, restaurants, and malls also offering testing stations. It’s the only way that their economy can stay open as it is 90% dependant on tourism and has an import-export hub which means that people are going about their business as usual as can be with Covid testing becoming as normal as brushing your teeth every morning.

This is the level we have to get to if we want to truly enjoy and open Aotearoa again.


Hayden Hape (Tamaki Nui a Rua), Danielle Keil, Mere and I, and Paddy Mason (Kahungunu ki Wairarapa - Wero NZ Manuka Honey)


In terms of the swabbing, its 90% nasal swabs. The swabbing itself is ranked by the general public who tell you don’t go to that both or don’t go to that booth, and we soon found out why as there were no queues at certain booths.


Some of the testers tried to drill your brains out and stuck the swab so far up, you'd think they were having a biopsy on your brain. We all exited from those booths, water streaming from our eyes, our nostrils and our ears went blocked.


The testing was worse than having Covid itself. Some of the testers thought they were playing with hula hoops and started swinging around as if they were hula hoops, whereas others looked at your nose and saw it as a challenge and dropped into marshall arts mode, while others again, thought they were breaking through concrete with a jackhammer.


The ones that had long queues once we joined them, we realised they were gentle and quick, and you were there for 5 seconds or less.


Because I was hosting crowds all day every day, I had to test every day, so I quickly found whom to avoid and who didn’t think my nose was a challenge, and who was gentle and kind.

7 tests later in Dubai, we made our way to the MIQ Pullman hotel in Auckland. The testers there were half and half, passive aggressive, gentle, persuasive but when we had our final test at the Waipukurau hospital, the nurse must have had a bad night, cause she tried to push our eyeballs from inside out and she wasn’t happy until we were rubbing and blubbing. She even said, 'gotcha'.


Our results in Dubai were usually done within 2-3 hours but our wait in Waipukurau was 72hours. We did three days in self-isolation at Kairakau and we did another three days waiting for our results.


The overall impacts of covid affects everybody in every walk of life but mainly in our case, Māori and I don’t think life will ever be normal again, and we’ve got to learn to live with covid amongst ourselves, just like we've learned to live with rheumatic fever, measles and tetanus, and other killer diseases.

The emiraties showed us that if you are first movers, in their case, fully vaccinated, then you will also create the first opportunities to recovery by a million people a day visiting Dubai and the other Emirate countries.

Testing and needles will be a fact of life for us if we want to resume some normality because the new normal hasn’t arrived yet and as we strive to get our people vaccinated, the covid itself is mutating at a rapid rate and we will always play catch up to other countries.

This is my experience in a country that has learned to live with it.

Rubby Blubby is a new norm. Get used to it, it’s here for a while.

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