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Lockdown puts a different perspective

Empty Douglas Park School [above] and Greytown’s empty main road [below]. PHOTOS/GRACE PRIOR AND TOM TAYLOR

On day one of the second nationwide level 4 lockdown, Times-Age reporters were across Wairarapa to see how the region was faring.


In Eketahuna, essential council services would continue, while others, including libraries, community spaces, transfer stations, and recycling centres, would be closed.

Where possible, people were encouraged to clean and store their recycling, with other waste disposed of as usual.


Metlink confirmed it would move to a Saturday timetable for bus and train services, with the Wairarapa train line replaced by buses.

Passengers would be required to maintain two-metre physical distancing and board at the back. Cash-handling would be removed.


Residents could expect to see a highly visible police presence across the region in the next few days as Wairarapa police ensure level 4 lockdown restrictions were met.

Wairarapa Police Area Commander Inspector Scott Miller said three reassurance teams would patrol the region, from rural areas to towns, throughout the lockdown from 6am to 10pm.

He confirmed one arrest had already been made in Masterton on Wednesday for someone not “adhering to the rules”.

The person was taken to the Masterton station before they were released.

He said the last thing police wanted to do was make arrests but wanted to make it clear that people should know what to expect if they don’t follow the rules.

“We’ll certainly be speaking to anyone out and about as well as educating those people not adhering to the rules.

“We don’t want to be arresting people, but if it necessary, as a last resort, if lockdown gets extended, we’ll have more of a firmer focus on those who are out when they shouldn’t be.

“People will need to make sure they’ve got a legitimate reason to be out.”

Despite the arrest, Miller said it had been a good first day and that the general Wairarapa community had been responsive to the government’s approach.

Police would also be regularly checking businesses and shops to make sure they were secure.


Supermarket operators across Wairarapa described the scenes that erupted at their stores moments after the level 4 lockdown notice was issued.

At Masterton Pak’nSave, store manager Jonathon Spicer said the store was a lot busier than usual, but there were no real issues as people were “pleasant” and not overdoing it.

“Some things did go really fast,” he said.

“Things like flour sold out quickly, people bought a lot of toilet paper, but we had plenty to spare. Fruit, veges, and meat got hit pretty hard, but it wasn’t the same as last lockdown where people were buying three or four packets of toilet paper at a time.

“There was probably one in 20 people who decided to really stock up. But I’d say 19 out of 20 people were just coming in and doing a slightly bigger shop than they normally would.”

Greytown’s Fresh Choice owner Chris Ward said his store was “exceptionally busy” up until the store closed on Tuesday evening.

“Toilet paper and flour, followed by bananas were the first things to go for us,” he said.

“The meat and vegetables were pretty stripped out too but we’ve got plenty of that stock now and we’ll continue to replenish what we sell as best we can.”

His store received numerous online orders and he was making those deliveries across the region.

“Our online orders have gone ballistic so I’ve been out delivering as far north as Masterton and as far south as Featherston and everywhere in between.”

Ward said he had not put any limit on items yet because he was of the view that customers were being sensible with their purchasing, but would look into it if shoppers started to overbuy certain items.

Featherston’s SuperValue owner Brad Meikle said “it got very busy, very quickly”.

Like the others, Meikle said general items such as toilet paper were the first off the shelves.

“Large amounts of general groceries, everybody’s everyday needs were the first to go,” he said.

“We get daily deliveries so we’ve got enough for everyone so we’re in good shape. But we do plan for this and it’s on our mind every week to make sure we’re prepared in these situations.”

Meikle praised his staff for their efforts during the busy shopping spree on Tuesday, with some off-shift staff coming to the store to help.

“Last night when the announcement was made, a lot of the team turned up to the store without me knowing because they knew it was going to be busy, just to make it right for the community,” he said.

“I’m really proud of them for doing that. They always step up.

“Last time we were in our first major lockdown and when we were a little more inexperienced as well, that our team pulled out all stocks to make it happen.

“The community recognised that, as after it was all over we had people coming in and thanking us for our efforts and they were doing the same last night.”

All stores spoken to said they had plenty in supply and echoed the message there was no need to panic buy.

Masterton’s Ten o’Clock Cookie Bakery and Cafe general manager Monique Kloeg said the uncertainty brought by lockdown was heightened in the food service industry.

“The most frustrating thing is not knowing the extent of how long we’re going to be locked down for,” she said.

“Especially with food, from three days to five days is a long gap.”

On Wednesday, the bakery gave “a couple of thousand dollars” worth of food, which would have otherwise gone to waste, to families in the community.

  • Reporting by Soumya Bhamidipati, John Lazo-Ron, Grace Prior, Sue Teodoro, and Tom Taylor.

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