Thriving In Isolation #4

It’s Easter…but not as we know it.

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This time last year Opoutere was jumping – boats putted about the harbour, the beach was busy, the carpark was packed with freedom campers and the supermarket was thronging with locals and visitors all clamouring for last-minute supplies.

2020 finds Opoutere so quiet it’s perfectly normal to see white-faced herons strolling down the middle of the road.

This year there are police checkpoints around the Coromandel turning away people heading to their holiday homes and locals are keeping an eye on empty properties to make sure there are no surprise arrivals midway through the national lockdown.

Thames Coromandel District Council have sent out multiple emails imploring people to stay in isolation and not attempt a late-night dash to their bach. It increases the risk of community spread and threatens the capacity of local health services. The message is clear – wherever you started the lockdown is where you should stay until it’s over.

How are your emotions treating you?

TCDC’s Civil Defence Controller Garry Towler explains the various stages of human response during a crisis event like the one we are all in at the moment.

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“The graph (above) is an internationally acclaimed picture of what happens to us before, during and after a disaster,” says our Civil Defence Controller Garry Towler. “While modelled on crises such as 9-11, major cyclones, tsunamis and earthquakes, it is very relevant for us today in the COVID-19 emergency as it has a wide impact on all of us.”

See the section below “Phases of a disaster”, for the full explanation.

“Right now, we’re in the honeymoon phase and over the next few weeks we’ll be heading into the disillusionment phase, the most important phase in terms of how we look after ourselves, families and friends,” says Mr Towler.

Phases of a disaster

Phase 1: The pre-disaster phase –characterised by fear and uncertainty. The specific reactions a community experiences depend on the type of disaster. Disasters with no warning can cause feelings of vulnerability and lack of security; fears of future, unpredicted tragedies; and a sense of loss of control or the loss of the ability to protect yourself and your family. On the other hand, disasters with warning can cause guilt or self-blame for failure to heed the warnings. The pre-disaster phase may be as short as hours, or even minutes, such as during a terrorist attack, or it may be as long as several months, such as during a hurricane season.

Phase 2: Impact phase – characterised by a range of intense emotional reactions. As with the pre-disaster phase, the specific reactions also depend on the type of disaster that is occurring. Slow, low-threat disasters have psychological effects that are different from those of rapid, dangerous disasters. As a result, these reactions can range from shock to overt panic. Initial confusion and disbelief typically are followed by a focus on self-preservation and family protection. The impact phase is usually the shortest of the six phases of disaster.

Phase 3: Heroic phase – characterised by a high level of activity with a low level of productivity. During this phase, there is a sense of altruism, and many community members exhibit adrenaline-induced rescue behaviour. As a result, risk assessment may be impaired. The heroic phase often passes quickly into phase 4.

Phase 4: Honeymoon phase – characterised by a dramatic shift in emotion. During the honeymoon phase, disaster assistance is readily available. Community bonding occurs. Optimism exists that everything will return to normal quickly. As a result, numerous opportunities are available for providers and organisations to establish and build rapport with affected people and groups, and for them to build relationships with stakeholders. The honeymoon phase typically lasts only a few weeks.

Phase 5: Disillusionment phase – is a stark contrast to the honeymoon phase. During the disillusionment phase, communities and individuals realise the limits of disaster assistance. As optimism turns to discouragement and stress continues to take a toll, negative reactions, such as physical exhaustion or substance use, may begin to surface. The increasing gap between need and assistance leads to feelings of abandonment. Especially as the larger community returns to business as usual, there may be an increased demand for services, as individuals and communities become ready to accept support. The disillusionment phase can last months and even years. It is often extended by one or more trigger events, usually including the anniversary of the disaster.

Phase 6: Reconstruction phase – characterised by an overall feeling of recovery. Individuals and communities begin to assume responsibility for rebuilding their lives, and people adjust to a new “normal” while continuing to grieve losses. The reconstruction phase often begins around the anniversary of the disaster and may continue for some time beyond that. Following catastrophic events, the reconstruction phase may last for years.

Getting through together – thanks to TCDC for this info:

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A set of tools for coping with the effects of COVID-19 and the Alert Level 4 lock down on our mental health has been released. Getting Through Together is an online resource divided into subjects such as parenting and whānau, workplace wellbeing, te ao Māori and identity and culture, and offers articles, tips, questionnaires, activities and games delivered in a range of formats. Phone numbers for services such as Lifeline and Healthline can also be found on the site.

“If you, or any members of your family and friends are struggling with emotions or feeling the pressure of the sudden change to life, then talk about it don’t hold it in and let it build up,” says our Mayor Sandra Goudie. “We are in isolation, but we are not isolated.”

  • You can free call or text 1737 at any time to speak with a trained counsellor – it’s free and confidential.
  • Free phone 0800 800 405 for people in our Thames-Coromandel District struggling to get food, groceries, medication or other household goods and services available between 7am and 7pm daily.
  • You can also call Lifeline on 0800 543354 or text HELP to 4357.
  • 0800 111 757 – Talk to a trained counsellor at the Depression Helpline about how you are feeling or to ask a question – see
  • Check out the top tips to get through from the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand here.
  • For daily mini-missions to help you feel good, download the All Right App today.
  • Check out our website for some more ways to stay connected and entertained

Your local services are also able to offer with support such as shoppers, food parcels, hospital travel assistance and more:

I’m not feeling so great…what do I do?

“We are very pleased to have the first CBAC up and running on the East Coast,” says our Civil Defence Controller, Garry Towler. “I encourage all residents on the South Eastern Ward (Whangamata, Onemana, Opoutere, Hikuai, Tairua, Pauanui and surrounds) who are concerned or anxious that they may have COVID-19, to go along and have a chat, then they can take you in for further assessment.”

Whangamata – Memorial Hall, 326 Port Road (pictured below):

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  • Open 9am-3pm daily
  • An essential service
  • Please follow the signage and direction of traffic management staff
  • This is a drive-thru assessment centre. Do not get out of your car
  • If you do not have vehicle, please still enter at the main entry point as sign posted ‘entry’, (don’t cut through the site) and wait for direction while maintaining social distancing (2-metres) from staff and other vehicles
  • Please be patient

All GPs can offer COVID-19 assessments too as well as the following primary care organisations who are offering extended hours:

Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki Thames:
8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Sunday
210 Richmond Rd
Ph: 07 868 0033
Ph: 0508 835 676

Click here for more information.

Be Informed 

  • Free phone 0800 800 405 for Waikato people struggling to get food, groceries, medication or other household goods and services available between 7am and 7pm daily.
  • Check our website COVID-19 page for local information, daily updates and advice on how people can stay connected.
  • Tune into the radio – We’re advertising on local radio stations any important updates and our Mayor Sandra has an interview with CFM on Mondays, Tuesdays with Gold FM and Thursdays with Coromandel More FM.
  • Newspapers – Keep an eye out in the local newspapers that are still running as we are advertising Council information in some of those including the Waikato Times. The Mercury Bay Informer is still printing and will be in letterboxes and distribution points. All other local papers are all online for now. Tear out the Kerbside changes and stick it on your fridge.
  • Call us: 07 868 0200
  • Email:
  • Website:
  • Follow our Facebook page
  • Sign up for Email newsletters
  • Make Online payments

And finally – a hot cross bun recipe!

The lovely people at Civil Defence Waikato have shared their favourite HCB recipe:

“We’ve got the recipe you’ve been waiting for! Maria from The River Kitchen has kindly supplied us with her egg-stra special hot cross buns recipe. A perfect activity for you and your ‘bubble’ to make in your nest this Easter! Maria like many of us is in lockdown and finding more time to bake, and enjoy being at home more than usual, her advice is that ‘self retreat is a treat’. So fill your home up with the smell of these scrummy buns this Easter. Hop to it!🤤🐣🐇

Here are the ingredients:


Get all your ingredients ready to go first.
Place the milk and butter into a pot and melt gently. Take off the heat. Be patient and let it cool to lukewarm. Then add the yeast and stir. Put the pot lid on and let it stand for 10 minutes.

Mix the dried fruits together and add boiling water to cover. Leave to the side.

Mix the dry ingredients together, the flour sugar and spices in a large bowl. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir carefully. Once mixed turn out onto a clean bench.

Squeeze out the dried fruit mix reserving the liquid to reduce later as the glaze.

Add the dried fruits to the spiced mixture on the bench and nicely blend and knead the mixture together. Takes about 10 minutes. Add a little flour if you need to.

Place back in the bowl and loosley glad wrap or place a tea towel on top. Leave it to rise until double in size. Depending on how warm your house is, this can take some time, patience is needed again.

Now for the fun part. Divide the dough into about 12 -16 balls. Roll carefully and place on to a tray for the oven. Leave the buns to rise again until double in size.

While all that is going on, place the left-over liquid from the mixed fruits in a pot and reduce to a syrup. Don’t leave it unattended. It won’t take long either.

Make up the mix to go on top. I use half cup of flour and about the same in water to make the mix (almost the consistency of pva glue, old school i know!)

Turn the oven on to 180 degrees and let it warm up.

To make the crosses, place the wet flour mixture into a piping bag, baking paper cone or a zip lock bag with the tip cut off and then the design is up to you.

Place in the oven and cook for 16-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Once out of the oven let them cool slightly, by this time everyone in your home will smell them and want to get one as soon as they can. but, let them cool and brush the glaze on before they all disappear!

Useful stuff:
Boil the jug for hot water on the fruit but you can use a microwave if you like.

I used a tablespoon, wooden spoon, knife, jug, little bowl, big bowl and a baking tray to make this recipe. Baking paper is also useful along with a zip lock bag for the crosses.

I’m kind of heavy handed with the spices and fruit when it comes to my hot cross buns. You could try adding a few chocolate chips if you like!?
Get the family to help, this is a great activity to do with your kids. Plus it doesn’t matter how they turn out, your house will smell devine and you made them; homemade always tastes better!

Happy baking your stay at home ‘designer’ buns!😆🤤🐇
Maria from The River Kitchen xxx

Happy Easter, stay safe and have fun!


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