Despite being a "social animal", Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick has gone into voluntary self-isolation amid an escalation of measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Speaking from her home in Kawaha Point on Tuesday, Steve Chadwick said she went to Canberra last week for the Australian Kapa Haka competition, which she attended with Minister for Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta and Australian High Commissioner Annette King.
She returned to New Zealand earlier than planned on Saturday, after learning of the "heightened awareness" about Covid-19.
She has voluntarily self-isolated - enforced isolation for travellers kicked in on Monday - and is not showing symptoms.
Mahuta had also gone into self-isolation and was asymptomatic.
Some photo highlights from today’s National Kapa Haka Festival #Powhiri at Exhibition Park in Canberra - featuring New Zealand Minister for Māori Development @NanaiaMahuta and Mayor of Rotorua Steve Chadwick. pic.twitter.com/OBQViEyeon— NZ in Australia (@NZAustralia) March 13, 2020
Chadwick had "no way of knowing" if she had any contact with someone with the Covid-19, but wanted to be on the safe side.
Going to Australia, the airport had been busy, but she was struck on the return journey by how much quieter the airports were.
"It was surreal, but it was very calm."
She was continuing her mayoral work from home. Chadwick said she was "very connected," with a computer station set up, and was in regular contact with the Rotorua Lakes Council through phone and video conferencing.
- If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs)
Deputy Mayor Dave Donaldson would be taking her place in person where needed.
The "biggest challenge" would be the council meeting scheduled for Thursday next week, but she expected she would attend via video link.
Chadwick said she was savouring the relative quiet of home and would be doing some maintenance while she had the chance, such as sorting cupboards left long-neglected due to her busy schedule as mayor.
Her offer to look after her son's puppy had been declined, and she was amused he presumably didn't want the puppy exposed to her.
Chadwick, a former Labour minister, approved of the government's response to the pandemic.
"They've [made] a very good decision to close down to smooth the impact.
"The advice returning [into the country] was good, it was very smooth, very calm. It just reinforces that it's best to listen to the experts."
Chadwick, a former associate minister of health who had been involved in some of the SARS pandemic planning, urged people to do the same.
"Go on the Ministry of Health website, there are daily reports and they're very factual."
She believed there would be good work done across all parties to help combat the coronavirus pandemic.
"Now is not the time for small politics."
Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the Newspaper Publishers' Association and NZ On Air.