25 Mar 2020

'We'll get through this together' - mayor

3:53 pm on 25 March 2020

As the nation gets ready for lockdown, Christchurch's leaders believe their city is prepared.

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

This is not the first time the region has dealt with a crisis.

Over the past 10 years Christchurch has experienced everything from earthquakes, to the Port Hills fire, the 15 March terror attacks, flooding, and a gas explosion.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the city was equipped and already well connected.

"Because we have been through traumatic experiences before. We are better prepared as a city ... in terms of the connection with resident and community groups and emergency services."

Support senior citizens

Betty Chapman has been supporting hundreds of seniors in Christchurch through a community group in the city's east for the last 18 years.

She said now that the elderly cannot rely on meeting face to face in social groups like hers, it is up to friends and family to pick up the phone.

In the past 10 years since the earthquakes, she said "humour and positivity" has been used all the time to keep them afloat. "Make them laugh a lot."

She said the lockdown would be tough on some seniors who have PTSD or experience loneliness and rely on group outings and connection to get through.

"They are resilient, especially the ones who have gone through the war times. They will overcome this, but I wish this wasn't happening. It is just another crisis they have to adhere to again."

Mental wellbeing guidance

There has been a growing demand for mental health services in Canterbury since the earthquakes, worsened by other tragedies such as the mosque attacks and Port Hills fire.

Sue Turner is the director of the Canterbury mental health campaign All Right?

She said this pandemic might be the tipping point for some Cantabrians, however help was always available.

If people feel stressed or anxious she advised to ask for support from loved ones or call the free national mental health hotline -1737, to speak to a trained counsellor.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

Stay calm for your kids

Meanwhile Parenting Place Family Coach, Jo Batts, said some parents would be dealing with stressed and anxious children.

"Give them a chance to flush out all of their worries. If we can help them name what they're feeling...if they are worried or scared… if we can just listen to what they are saying, then it means they are not alone in it."

She said the main thing for parents to remember was to stay calm in front of their children.

"[What] our kids want to see... is that we've got our calm and we can lend a bit of that calm.. they can borrow that from us."

She suggested treating the month in lockdown as a holiday or weekend.

"Keep a routine, stay close by and emotionally connected, create an atmosphere where questions can be asked - be real and also offer them hope," she said.

"We will get through this together," said Dalziel.

She was confident the country will overcome Covid-19.

"This is our generation's challenge...we have to come together, not in a physical, but a spiritual sense."

Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern said everyone in Aotearoa had a responsibility to check in on their friends, family and neighbours so no one felt alone during this time.

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