Jubilant Kiwis in Sydney book flights after pandemic heartbreak

Jubilant Kiwis in Sydney book flights after pandemic heartbreak

April 6, 2021

Phone calls from Sydney to Wellington are all May Lloyd has had to gauge the mental and physical state of her 89-year-old mother, Sylvia, during the COVID-19 pandemic, as strict quarantine measures kept them apart.

“It’s been really, really tough because she’s not in the greatest of health,” the actor and academic, living in Sydney’s inner west, said on Tuesday. “She doesn’t email, Zoom or Skype. All I’ve had to go on is her voice and her voice doesn’t lie.

May Lloyd and Lani Tupu from Tempe are hoping to visit Ms Lloyd’s 89-year-old mother in Wellington in light of the trans-Tasman bubble announcement.Credit:Wolter Peeters

“Being by herself for over a year and a half … she probably had a lot more to live for when we could travel, see each other and see family. I think it’s made her think, ‘What’s the future worth?’ in a way.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday announced that two-way quarantine-free travel with Australia will return from 11.59pm on Sunday, April 18.

“One sacrifice that has been particularly hard for many to bear over the past year has been not being able to see friends and family who live in Australia,” Ms Ardern said. “Our health response now gives us the opportunity to connect with loved ones again as we start a new chapter in our recovery.”

Earlier, Ms Lloyd had said: “I almost don’t believe it’s going to happen.”

University of Sydney student Isabella Lau, 21, and her mother Lee Tan from Dunedin.

“Personally, it’s probably the toughest year I’ve gone through so far,” she said. “It’s just shown things can be so unpredictable.”

Michelle Piho, a dual citizen who runs the Kiwi Delights cafe in Sydney’s west, said the change to travel requirements was “awesome” news.

Her husband, Henry, travelled to Auckland to see his sick mother in February last year. He returned before lockdown and attended a “Zoom funeral with very limited people” when she died weeks later.

“We will be going back to disperse her ashes,” Ms Piho said. “It will be when we can all travel freely that I assume the whole family will make their way to New Zealand.”

Henry Piho (second left) and Michelle Piho (far right) with family in Sydney.

Her family, of four children and six grandchildren, moved into three houses next to each other in St Marys in June last year after lockdown.

“It was to ensure we were all in the same bubble,” she said. “So three houses together is my family.”

She said there were “still a lot of Kiwis suffering at the moment” and she expected many more would travel home now that they wouldn’t have to spend upwards of $3000 on quarantine.

“The biggest problem that I have heard through the grapevine is people that were going home to sick parents … weren’t given exemptions on the quarantine periods,” she said.

“So a lot of people went home and it was too late, their parent or sibling passed while they were in quarantine.”

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