Relief doesn’t even begin to describe how Cook Island mother Rachel Metuangaro and her 15-year-old daughter are feeling this week. After six-weeks of having to under-go strict isolation in Auckland the pair have finally been given the all clear to head back to Rarotonga this weekend.
“We are one of the first groups to go home, we’re just so happy,” Metuangaro says. “Our family back home have been worried about us, but they are looking forward to us coming back. Sadly though, we won’t be able to see them straight away. As soon as we get off the plane, we have to hop on a bus that will take us to another facility where we will have to quarantine for two more weeks.”
In the last two-weeks they were moved from The Mount Richmond Hotel to The Holiday Inn in Mangere, a place that has become a temporary quarantine centre for returning Cook Islanders.
Everybody has been in really good spirits since we heard the Cook Island borders have opened again,” says Metuangaro.
“People probably think it’s really easy to just sit and do nothing, but it’s mentally draining because you’re just stuck in a room. My daughter has been trying to get as much school work done while she has been here, but she’s still going to have to play catch up when we get back.”
“In the last week, we have been able to order Uber Eats so that’s been really cool for us,” Metuangaro laughs. “I’ve also been doing online shopping, buying some warm clothes for me and my daughter because we only came here with hand luggage as weren’t expecting to get stuck here.”
The duo initially arrived in Auckland at the end of March after being evacuated from Rarotonga due to Metuangaro’s daughter experiencing covid-like symptoms. They were sent to Middlemore Hospital to get medical treatment but were left with no place to self-isolate after shortly being cleared of covid-19 and discharged.
Pasifika Futures¾a Whānau Ora commissioning agency, initially became aware of their situation and have been working with Mount Wellington Integrated Healthcare to ensure the pair, and many others have been accommodated and well supported, while temporarily displaced in New Zealand.
A navigator at the healthcare clinic, John Kiria, has been in contact with Metuangaro every day.
“It’s been a tough situation for them. I wanted to help with anything that would help them feel at home. Rachel wanted some prescription for her daughter so, we were able to get medications for them and also for the others from the Cook Islands in quarantine here. We are making sure their supplies will last them through their next quarantine which they’ll have to do when they get back home.”
“I’d like to acknowledge PMA and Pasifika Futures for stepping up and helping Rachel and her daughter, it’s a situation they had no control over and weren’t prepared for. Thank you.”
Date: Saturday 9 May 2020