9 Apr 2020

Covid-19: Auckland mother in Samoa asks government to help get her home

3:48 pm on 9 April 2020

A New Zealand woman stranded in Samoa says she is desperate to get home to her husband and eight children.

A New Zealand passport with silver fern on a red background (file photo)

Photo: 123RF

Restrictions imposed by the Samoan government mean there are no commercial flights in or out of the country.

Elisapeta Westerlund went to Samoa for her grandfather's funeral last month.

She went to the airport before flights stopped to try to book a seat to get home but was turned away and has been asking the New Zealand High Commission in Apia for help since.

"My eldest daughter is the one who is still working, she is now the surrogate mother, she goes out when she can, gets the shopping done and makes sure the kids are fed," Westerlund said.

  • 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

The longer she had to wait to get home, the more anxious she got.

"I've been to the hospital twice and once I was refused treatment for an asthma attack and I really want to come home."

All this while she's trying to reassure her family in Auckland that everything will be okay.

"I did tell them not to worry so much about the rent and everything, I will sort it out with the landlord as soon as I come home.

"They missed a week and I said, it's fine as long as you have food and keep up with the hygiene and keep the girls locked in the house and no going outside."

Westerlund said the main way she was keeping in touch with her family was through messaging apps.

She said she just wanted to get home and wants the government to help.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it understood how upsetting it was for New Zealanders stranded overseas, and understood the stresses that many Kiwis and their family and friends were facing.

In a statement, it said the government remained committed to providing consular support to New Zealanders stranded overseas.

"We recognise that not all New Zealanders who want to return home are able to do so. Where commercial flights remain available they should take them. New Zealanders who cannot return home for the time being should take steps to stay safely where they are," the ministry said.

"Under Samoa's existing border restrictions there are currently no commercial flights. If and when any suitable flight does occur, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will work with the Samoan government to determine whether the return flight can be used to repatriate New Zealanders wishing to return home."

New Zealanders overseas who need assistance should contact their closest New Zealand Embassy or High Commission, or call the consular emergency line on +64 99 2020 20 (if overseas) or 0800 30 10 30. They should also register on the Safe Travel website.

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