Tairua’s lockdown chronicle to be officially launched this week

01 Jun 2021

The experiences of the people of Tairua during the March/April 2020 COVID-19 lockdown have been brought together in a special publication documenting this unique time in our collective history.

“Tairua Locked Down 2020” will be officially launched at a special event on Friday this week (4 June), with the whole community invited to come and reflect on the stories that defined that remarkable and unprecedented six-week period.

The book has been collated and part-written by Nola Langford from the Tairua Heritage Group who said the main inspiration for the project was her grandchildren. “I had just returned home to Tairua after being away when the announcement came,” she said. “I had already done my shopping, I even had long-life milk because I use it to make yogurt so I guess there wasn’t anything I felt I had to do, I was as prepared as I could be. I was on my own and I think that gave me time to reflect on what was about to happen and there was a real sense of awareness that this was going to be part of our history.”

Beginning on day one, Thursday, 26 March, Nola began documenting the details of the 1:00pm government press conference, intermingling the official information with other significant events so that case numbers were jotted down alongside a loved one’s birthday, painting a picture of life unfolding under these new extraordinary circumstances. 

“It was really for my grandchildren,” Nola said. “They were aged four and nine and I wanted them to be able to look back and see what they had been a part of, because no doubt they will forget, as I suppose many of us will.”

With her handwritten account as a timeline, Nola, with the support of the Heritage Group, then put out the call to the people of Tairua to share their own experiences in order to preserve the oral history of how the community had come through the lockdown, the enduring memories and the lessons learned. “It was incredible really to read what people wrote,” Nola said. “One of my favourites was from a woman who wrote she had remembered that ‘work’ was just a four-letter word and that she realised she preferred a different one, ‘home.’ I think that was the strongest thing that came through from people’s reflections, the value of time. People weren’t having to rush, they had time for simple things, families out walking together, preparing and enjoying a meal.”

The book features the voices of more than 40 contributors, including business owners, essential workers, families, retirees and a classroom of children from Tairua School. “I haven’t changed any of those accounts, it is their unedited experience” Nola said. “Then I have provided my own reflection, based on my notes, along with some of the significant dates and milestones.”

Funded through a Helping Hands grant from Te Papa Museum, the publication will be available for purchase for $20 at the official launch or later from the Tairua Information Centre at a cost of $25. All proceeds will support the building of a Heritage Centre in Tairua. 

“We welcome everyone from our resident and visiting community to come along and be part of the launch,” Nola said. “It will be a really lovely opportunity for us all to look back at what we shared. We also have a very special guest speaker, who, in true Covid style, will be Zooming in to talk to us, which we are extremely excited about.

The launch will take place at 5:30pm at St Francis House, Main Road, Tairua.

Pictured: Nola Langford with her publication, Tairua Locked Down 2020, which will be officially launched on Friday, 4 June.