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Unexpected Events for you and your Guests / Kaikoura Earthquake Learnings

Janet Dixon

18 March 2020

I know some of us have had some emotional highs and emotional lows and thankfully some of you have felt confident enough to contact board members to offload and look for some practical and emotional support around COVID-19.

These highs and lows come from guests, family, friends and our local communities. We receive multiple communications a day strewn with facts that start the road to misinformation as soon as it released. Anxiety is normal, however unfortunately it’s the levels of anxiety that we suffer that leans us more towards misinformation and fear.

If we are feeling this fear imagine, if you can, being thousands of miles away from home, your family, your supports, your medicines, your pets, your job AND your English is limited. You wake up one day and your dream holiday is a nightmare, your transport home has been cancelled, you have no surplus monies, you cough and you are stared at like a leper and don’t know what to do next. That to me, must be devastating.

It is at this time we need to put aside our fears and become the practical one. Be the voice for these people. Communication is paramount and there can never be enough of it at a time when we are experiencing something so significant it is changing the way the world works before our eyes.

In November 2016 we were rudely awoken by Mother Nature trying to throw us out of bed (the cheek of it!). Although this event was not global and quite localised it affected hundreds of people visiting our country. Some were forced to extend their stay in Kaikoura, some had trips rerouted, and some blamed the people of NZ for ruining their holiday. Some practical things we did for our guests:

1. Became their voice. Distress can make English an even harder language if it isn’t a guests first language. Call their travel agent, the airline, the local medical center if medication is an issue (this can be a biggie for some of our older guests and those with the likes of diabetes), their car rental company, their Embassy, anything they need to assist. This may be time consuming but put yourself in their shoes.

2. Listen. Often, we listen to respond. We need to listen to hear and identify the actual point of distress so we can accurately assist. Sometimes we just need to listen, say nothing, do nothing. Just let the person vent and cry if they need too.

3. Contact your local support groups. Maraes, Church groups, welfare agencies, anyone willing to bring a friendly helping hand. Remember some of these people have no where to go.

4. Contact your area B&B group and identify together what practical things you can assist with.

5. Find those properties in your area who are willing to offer self – isolation.

6. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – with whoever you need too.

7. Above all else take care of yourself. If you are unable to do the above because your own anxieties and fears are too much (and you need to know THAT IS OK TOO), ask a friend to help. Ring someone you know can ease your anxiety.

Hopefully these small learnings will help you in some way. None of us know how we are going to react. I get anxious meeting new guests at the door now and I am starting to hide my coughs. We had a guest recently who was unwell. I said to them “I am a bit concerned about your state of health at the moment”. The guest explained their existing medical condition (thankfully not COVID 19) to ease my concern. It did, but a little paranoia sneaks in ……..

Take care everyone and if you need help just get in touch and we will do the best we can for you. After all, that’s what we are here for.


Janet Dixon 

18 March 2020

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