27 Mar 2020

'Keeping On' - an ode to Aotearoa in lockdown, by lyrical legend Sam Hunt

From Checkpoint, 6:25 pm on 27 March 2020

Day two of New Zealand’s Covid-19 lockdown is nearly done and dusted. 

Most of us have toed the line so far… most of us. 

So as a special treat for our first weekend under the 'stay home, stay local' rules, Checkpoint producer Bridget Burke called Aotearoa’s loveable lyricist Sam Hunt to ask for a poem.

“I quite like being locked down," Hunt says.

"An old friend rang a few days ago and she said: ‘You’re in your comfort zone aren’t you?'

“I always preferred isolation, you know, I've never been interested in things like marriages and, I don’t know - all that stuff.”

At first Hunt was reticent to write a poem for the times, but nonetheless, one settled in his mind. 

Keeping On


Enough - I know it

well by heart,


part of the pulse - 

no need to please,


at 2am, waking from a nightmare

to realise the nightmare is not over,


it just keeps on,

keeping on. 


“That’s my poem called ‘Keeping On,' and I dedicated that to my fellow New Zealanders, most of whom I love.”

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Photo: supplied

Hunt has been living on the Kaipara Harbour north of Auckland for more than 20 years. 

“I love it. As Denis Glover said: 'The tide comes / the tide goes / and the wind blows.'

Getting the dinghy out is a bit more difficult for him nowadays. 

“But when I get depressed I go for a bit of a walk on the water. Show them a new miracle.”

Lockdown is not too hard for Hunt, he basically lives on his own. 

“I wrote some lines for my son Alf when he turned 11. He’s now 22.

“The verse in the song goes: ‘Alive Alf to live / clear of any city / live as we do / five gunshots from humanity.’

“And I don’t want to be five gunshots from humanity, but in a way to get the silence, you’ve got to live five gunshots from humanity. 

“That’s why I live where I live.” 

Hunt also wanted to share with New Zealand at this time a classic James K. Baxter poem: 

High Country Weather


Alone we are born

And die alone

Yet see the red-gold cirrus

over snow-mountain shine.


Upon the upland road

Ride easy, stranger

Surrender to the sky

Your heart of anger.