We asked New Zealanders how they are coping with lockdown and if they can bear it being extended.

On Monday April 20 New Zealanders will find out whether our level 4 complete lockdown will be extended, or if we will enter the (slightly) more relaxed level 3.

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has laid out the finer details of what life in level 3 looks like. Contact with people outside of our bubbles is still very restricted but more businesses will be able to function.

"Protecting the health of New Zealanders is our primary focus but we also need to position the economy for recovery,” she said.

Lockdown affects everyone in different ways. Re: spoke with students, a teacher, parents, working professionals and a business owner about how lockdown has impacted them. Surprisingly, some have grown attached to home.  Others don’t know how much longer they can last. 

On the one hand: surprisingly, I like lockdown

Nina Mathers, 29: I don’t have as much anxiety in my bubble

“I am loving it so much. Usually I have to work and study and I have social anxiety so it's been good not having to pretend to be okay with normal activities like this. So I am loving my bubble.”

Sakina Ali, 17: lockdown makes it easier to study

Sakina is studying architecture and says completely remote learning gives her an opportunity to do things at her own pace that her normal routine didn’t. “I've probably been even more productive. I have a lot of my resources and materials at home, so I don't feel like I'm being let down by a lack of access to uni.”

She doesn’t know how long lockdown should be extended “but I definitely know we shouldn't jump the gun and leave the lockdown earlier than we should.”

“I have faith that the university will change to assist us in this time of need so I would hope that I would be impacted minimally. But in saying that, I come from a place of privilege and I know that my peers will be far more impacted by the situation than I am.”

Lucy Drake, 22: less time on the road, more time to myself

“I am not missing having to commute to work for an hour every day. This lockdown has been amazing for my bank account and for my poor car. I have loved spending more time with my dog and just being able to have more time in the mornings and evenings to take care of my body and health without spending two hours on the road.”

Sofia Wolf, 23: coping well as a teacher during lockdown

Sofia teaches a class of 27 six-and-seven year olds at Prospect Primary School in Auckland. She says the most stressful part of the adjustment was organising devices and learning packs for her students. But she is proud of how kids have adjusted to their new routine.

“For me personally I am sweet as. For the children who are engaging everyday and completing tasks and have the support of their whānau they will be sweet too, because essentially they are getting 1:1 support instead of 1:27. But for the children that are difficult to reach or with whānau who are working they will be the ones who are losing out. So for their sake I hope level 4 doesn't last too long.”

Sofia empathises with working parents because of how difficult it is to set expectations and support their children to be “academic learners” during such a stressful time. “They are essentially working two jobs and when they clock off from their actual job they are then supporting their children with their learning too.”

She stresses how important it is for both teachers and parents to not to put too much pressure on themselves. “As a school we are reiterating to our community that teachers will not be able to replicate the classroom during lockdown just as parents are not expected to be teachers. Although we are uploading tasks and hosting Zoom calls we are not putting pressure on whānau to engage with this. We are letting them decide what is best for their tamariki as they know best at this time.”

Manoj Rathod, 50: it gives me more time for myself

“I like it. It allows me to take a break from the rat race and slow down and enjoy small things in life. There's no travel time, so there is more time to rest and focus more on my health.”

Hannah: it lets me enjoy the smaller things in life

I’m loving the feeling of grass on my feet every day we take our bubble to Fowlds Park. I love opening all the doors and windows in our house to feel fresh air, loving our family can have lunch together, loving that when you see people across the road and they ask you how you are you know they actually mean it. I love my morning coffee on my front berm with my daughter colouring unicorns!”

Emily Ferguson, 28: I love what the lockdown has done for my family

Emily, second from left in this photo, is in a bubble with her parents and her brother, his wife and their 11 month old baby (plus a dog and cat). “We have had more meals together, have bonded over baby being in the house, celebrated my mum and sister-in-law’s birthdays during rāhui, and just increased the amount of time we’ve spent together, as all of us are in the house at the same time rather than coming and going all the time as we usually would.”

“It has also made me realise how much I buy and do that isn’t necessary. Oh the money savings during this rāhui!”

Emily is happy for the lockdown to extend another week or two, despite missing her grandparents and wanting to support her friends in person. “A phone call these days just doesn't cut it. So I am looking forward to getting out of lockdown to resume in-person contact with my people, outside my bubble.”

Kezia Lynch: now that I have adjusted, I wouldn't mind if it got extended 

“Prior to the halfway mark I didn't think I could cope with an extension but, now I feel that if it was extended (albeit not for longer than maybe two weeks), I'd be fine with that. The majority is done and I've adjusted to the new routine and the reality of the future.”

Karla Lopez Edand, 27: I get to spend more quality time with my child

“I work full time and we usually have to leave home quite early and come home just about dinner time. So it’s all a quick routine in the mornings and evenings and weekends are mostly errands and cleaning. But now with the lockdown, I can spend more time with my child just playing and doing whatever he is interested in. Though I miss being at work, this is the time to reflect on my life and just see the brighter side which is being safe.”

On the other hand: Get me out

Heath Anderson, 39: the added pressure of homeschooling means family are struggling

Heath says his family is struggling during lockdown, especially with the added pressure of homeschooling.

The biggest challenge has been balancing full-time parenting of two children, aged 5 and 6, with full-time work. “Our children have struggled. We can’t give them the attention they need during the working week, and they are finding social isolation very difficult. Both of them are missing friends, family, outings and normal life.”

Heath is a financial lawyer and his wife works for an essential business. Due to the pandemic they have even more work on than usual, plus the added challenge of working remotely with children around. “We are lucky in many ways. We both still have jobs, and our family is happy and healthy.  However, the toll on our mental health has still been significant.”

With the school holidays officially over there is now the added stress of trying to homeschool. Heath emphasises that the school has been “fantastic” at providing guidance and resources, but his kids just aren’t interested. “Our children are both disengaged and just want to sit on screens all day. Neither of us have time to sit with them through the day to help them complete school work, and we feel very guilty at what is already a very stressful time. I think more than a couple of weeks of this would be unsustainable.”

Alexandra Groves, 23: motivation and creativity are at an all-time low during lockdown

Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, Alexandra was studying textile design in Melbourne, Australia. But without access to government wage support, she had no choice but to move back to Auckland. Her course, which usually consists of hands-on projects done in a studio, is now completely online. 

“I think the main struggle is not being able to access the studios and facilities. The library was an incredibly important resource and a lot of the information can not be found online.”

Alexandra says it is particularly hard to keep motivated without being in a collaborative classroom setting. “Because I am studying online, I am finding it incredibly difficult to be inspired or even be interested by my work. It’s so important to bounce ideas of one another, but that kind of natural flow of ideas and conversation doesn’t work as effectively over email.”

Monique Poirier, 28: desperate to get out of lockdown to save her business

Monique runs a large dance school in Warkworth and says if the lockdown is extended much longer she will have to close her business and let all of her staff go.

“I’m also dealing with kids who want to dance as their career. For some, it’s their last year before full time dance school and even just a few weeks off can have a drastic impact on their fitness and technique. Yes, they can do things at home but it’s so difficult when they don’t have the vast space of the studio to dance in, or the guidance of all of their teachers.”

Monique’s school also has a strong focus on dance exams, but she’s not sure if these will be able to go ahead at all. “This will be devastating for some older students who have been working so hard towards them in their final year.”

“Obviously, I can’t open in Level 3, so I’m really at a loss at what to do. If we’re in this stage for a while, I don’t know how I’m supposed to sustain things because online learning isn't financially sustainable in the long term. It’s tough.”