Learning & Information | Rukuhia Te Puna Mātauranga

Debbie Smith – Upper Hutt


“I like walking a lot. I walk in Totara Park and I go down to the local shops and I like talking to people when I’m out. Everyone knows me around here!

The staff would call me on my smartwatch to check I was okay and to remind me to come home.

I usually go out on walks two times a day.I got out when the weather was nice during Lockdown but it was hard not talking to people.

I could talk to the owners at the local shop if I kept my distance. I did find it eerily quiet on the streets and awkward keeping a distance from people and not being able to stop and talk to them.

I missed that during Lockdown, it was terrible. I didn’t like that, it felt weird out there. It was like a ghost town.

We were all home all the time because people could not go out and do their usual activities.

Sometimes we drove each other mad! That’s because we are all unique and we have got different ideas. Mine are the best.

When it was too much, I went out on long walks. I don’t like people telling me what to do. I had to get away. My housemates joke that I am an escapee!

I really love music, 60s music. I spent lots of time in my room listening to music during Lockdown. I like Rod Stewart, The Beatles and Cat Stevens.

I also spent time on my computer in my room. I have friend groups that I am in and I enjoyed keeping in touch with my friends on those chats during Lockdown.

I also have my beautiful pedigree cat Pompom who I share with my flatmates.

I usually go to the shops in Lower Hutt once a week. I like to go to the second-hand shops. My mum taught me to be a bargain hunter. But I like spending my money. You can’t take it with you, can you?

I came to Totara Park to live here when my family sold my place. A friend was going to come and live with me and I wouldn’t have had to go anywhere but she died.

My nieces and nephews come and visit me sometimes and I love that. Also, my sisters visit and send lots of care packages.

I enjoy it here. I am fed and watered. What else do you want?

I like takeaways and I did miss having them during Lockdown.

Lockdown was a frustrating and challenging time but that’s life, we coped. We’re alive.

We’re lucky here in New Zealand. I am thankful that New Zealand took the steps it did to stop Covid-19 from spreading in the community.

When Lockdown finished I was so glad I could go out and talk to people again. I am looking to join the local cossie club so that I can go there and do activities and meet people.” – 17 September 2020

  • This article appeared in Life in a Pandemic, a book about disabled and autistic people in Covid-19 Lockdown, 2020. © Life Unlimited Charitable Trust (now known as Your Way | Kia Roha).

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