When things happen at Waikawa Beach the caring side of the community really shines through. A few weeks ago numerous black-backed gulls were found distressed and dying on the beach.
Several locals immediately started to help, scooping up sick birds and caring for them, taking some to Massey Vet Hospital and calling in various bird rescue groups. It seems possible the birds had ingested a poisonous substance, but the virus outbreak has interfered with getting toxicology back from Massey.
Then along came Covid-19. The Waikawa Beach Facebook group members immediately started checking in with folks, offering practical support as well as a safe way to chat. A new Reay Mackay Grove sprang up too, getting a roll call going and again offering chat and even a free piano concert by a local.
The Ratepayers Association of course also provided a lot of information on its website and encouraged people to look out for their neighbours. We have reports of some older community members receiving multiple offers of help and expressions of concern.
Quite a few people left their usual city residences and came out to the beach to wait out the Level 4 Alert period, while others offered their baches to guests who needed a place to self-isolate.
If you're out for a walk there are plenty of cheery waves from others taking exercise. It's a delight to reclaim the streets for pedestrians and cyclists. There are no worries about tradie vans, and trucks servicing the various building sites around the place.
Waikawa Beach is pretty quiet at the best of times, but now it's rare to hear any vehicles at all. There's a bit of mainly silent gardening going on and it's mainly birds and a few buzzing flies providing the soundscape.
Waikawa Beach has always been at the end of the line, because it's not on the way to anywhere. At this unique time in history it's also in its own little bubble.
Originally published in Ōtaki Today, April 2020, page 12.