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The Long Journey Home – kindness, gratitude and empathy helps

Samantha Hunter and Mitch Logan are among the tens of thousands of Kiwis returning home amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Samantha Hunter and Mitch Logan are among the tens of thousands of Kiwis returning home amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The couple have just finished 14 days in a managed isolation, and are now preparing to make a new life in Wellington.

Samantha and Mitch point out that Kiwis coming home all have unique sets of reasons for doing so - and hope that fellow New Zealanders are able to treat them with kindness.

“Everyone has their own circumstances for returning. We’re coming back indefinitely, so very soon we’ll have an income, will be paying tax and putting money back into the country. We’re really excited to be home again,” says Mitch.

Samantha moved to Australia four years ago, where she then met Mitch. The pair were living in Newcastle, Australia, when their baby girl, Marley arrived in January. When Covid-19 hit, Samantha was on maternity leave but the couple were told they would be without work for at least three months from March.

“We didn’t have an income so at that point we had to start looking at our options. My parents suggested we come back home and be closer to family, so that’s what we decided to do,” said Samantha.

The family landed in Auckland on June 9 and started their two-week mandatory isolation in a hotel.

“We were both quite nervous about the uncertainty of it all. With Covid-19 impacting everything, we just didn’t know what was going to happen,” says Samantha.

Prior to returning home, Mitch secured a job in real estate, so spent his time in isolation studying to get his real estate license.

“We just tried to keep busy because it could go really slow at times. And having Marley, it was hard at times with cabin fever,” says Samantha.

They whiled away their time watching television, reading, or taking walks in a controlled setting. They also enjoyed making quite a few video calls to family and friends.

“We kept ourselves busy speaking to people.”

Kindness came in the form of Samantha’s Mum, who dropped off food and a Jolly Jumper to the hotel – a lifesaver, given all their belongings, including baby items, were in a shipping container.

Samantha says the staff and other guests in the hotel were all really lovely, which helped make the experience more enjoyable.

Quarantining with a six-month old proved challenging, with the pair’s usual coping mechanisms removed.

“I’m quite social and I like to get out and exercise and see family and friends. So I think that was the hardest thing for me,” says Samantha.

However, the pair made sure they stayed upbeat, knowing their situation “could be a lot worse”.

“We’re pretty positive people and so grateful for what we do have. So we looked at it from the place of ‘we’re in this nice hotel, we’ve got food getting delivered to us... so we spent more time thinking about that, rather than all the things we don’t have or can’t do right now’,” says Mitch.

“We were just grateful to have two weeks to spend with our daughter and we probably won’t get that again,” says Mitch.

“I know that we have come home for the right reasons,” says Samantha.

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