‘Exhausted’ community needs a giant group hug



A special event in Queenstown this Sunday will serve as a ‘‘big hug’’ for the community, and mark a year since the country emerged from the Covid-19 lockdown, its organiser says.

Local iwi charitable trust, Mana Tahuna, is holding the ‘kia tau’ ceremony outside the rugby clubrooms at the Recreation Ground from 11am.

Trust chairman Darren Rewi says through its social work in the Whakatipu, it’s seeing how much distress remains in the community, and how hard other social service providers are







The community is exhausted, and still grieving for what has been lost, Rewi says.

But in the past 12 months, people haven’t had an opportunity to collectively recognise
what it’s been through.

‘‘The grief that we still hold as we mourn for those all around the world that passed, our lives have changed, and close family and friends have moved away.’’

The trust’s members have also seen how much online abuse the town and its residents have been copping.

That distress is mostly under the surface, and only reveals itself when people start talking to each other.

‘‘We are hearing and seeing that, so we thought ‘let’s publicly go out there and have this kia tau’.’’

The term ‘kia tau’ translates as ‘to settle’, and is usually used in the context of settling the wairua (spirit) of a person a year after they have died.

Another way of thinking about the event is as a ‘‘big hug’’, he says.

It’ll be a simple event with no speeches or banners.

Rewi and Waiatatia waiata group leader Cory Ratahi will begin the ceremony with a karakia before the group performs for an hour, ending with an other karakia.

‘‘If two people turn up, or 20 people turn up, it’s fine.’’

Queenstown’s council’s putting on sausages and tea and coffee for everyone afterwards.

‘‘Then everyone can move on with their wairua (spirit) settled.’’

The weather forecast is looking OK for Sunday, so there’s no plan B at this stage, he says.