Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Love in age of lockdown, how Kiwi couples cope

Whoever coined the phrase love conquers all likely never juggled pandemic home schooling with Zoom work calls.

It ain’t easy to keep love blooming at the best of times, but especially during lockdown.

When New Zealand entered its first level 4 lockdown last year, new flames, newlyweds, young parents and those with more than half a century together told the Herald on Sunday how they were keeping love alive in the age of Covid.

So with New Zealand back in strict lockdown, we checked in with them again to see how they are doing.

Kersti Ward and Justin Spick: young couple apart

Forget the team of 5 million. Kersti Ward, 23, and boyfriend Justin Spick, 22, have transformed themselves into a deadly special forces hit squad of two.

On popular online video game Fortnite that is.

Earlier, before lockdown started, Ward had “absolutely” put her foot down.

“I’m not going to play Fortnite – embarrassing,” she used to tell Spick.

But with the pair choosing to sit through lockdown in separate Auckland homes – Ward with her flatmates and Spick in his apartment – they needed creative ways to spend time together.

Now Ward has to admit the online game, which boasts one million players, is “actually very fun” – and it also allows Spick to show off his chivalrous side.

“In the first five minutes I’ll get shot and am panicking on the phone and he has to run over and save me,” Ward joked.

And though they are apart, the couple are still recreating more traditional romantic nights out – but with a modern take thanks to FaceTime.

“We have planned to have a dinner and movie date where we get the same ingredients and cook together and then watch something together,” she said.

But then again the lovebirds have become old hands at this.

They also spent level 4 lockdown in March 2020 hundreds of kilometres apart and relied on technology to close the distance.

Back then Spick again showed he was a beacon of modern chivalry when he honoured a commitment not to Netflix-cheat on Ward – meaning he wouldn’t watch shows alone that they had promised to watch together.

Jokes aside, Ward said lockdown felt more familiar this time because they knew a bit of what to expect.

“Emotionally we are both a lot more mature in dealing with it, and you aren’t relying on the other one so heavily for support,” she said.

“It also gives me the chance to miss him.”

Katie Mattice young single

Canadian Katie Mattice, 32, and Brit Ryan Minett had just set off on a crazy, whirlwind romance in the month before New Zealand plunged into its first lockdown last year.

And with Minett having nowhere else to go, the pair spent lockdown cooped up in the same Wellington flat.

“It was supposed to be a casual thing and now we’re stuck together,” Mattice told the Herald on Sunday at the time.

If that wasn’t complicated enough, Minett is Mattice’s ex-boyfriend’s best friend.

So did the juicy fling blossom into lasting love?

Sadly, not. Minett moved into his own flat after lockdown.

“And we kind of just went our own separate ways – so no partnership visa for him,” Mattice joked.

This time around, she is sharing her flat with her true love.

“It’s me and (Simba) the cat,” she said.

Yet there is also a third wheel in the flat – a stranger from Tinder.

But before romantic readers get too excited, Mattice said she and her new buddy were just “mates”.

Both of them live alone and thought it easier to make it through lockdown if they had a friendly face to talk to.

“This lockdown doesn’t seem like it’s ending as soon as hoped, so for mental health purposes we platonically bubbled up,” she said.

Mattice’s mum in Canada has taken a few precautions, mind you.

She insisted her daughter send her the name and address of the new temporary flatmate along with a hotline for the Wellington police station.

“And we have a code word to text if something isn’t right,” Mattice joked.

Aside from that, keeping sane in lockdown has involved FaceTiming friends, online hair tutorials with work colleagues at Z and Co Hair Boutique salon, walks with Simba, streamed dance classes – “hilarious but fun” – and rearranging her furniture.

“And last but not least – swiping on Tinder,” she said.

Lizzie and Rob Lee: young parents

High-school sweethearts and young parents Lizzie and Rob Lee, both 34, are juggling lockdown work with caring for two “very active” boys Spencer, aged 3 and a half, and Harrison, 1 and a half.

And it ain’t easy.

“Our youngest one managed to find his way out of the cat flap, and I found him running around outside the other day,” Lizzie said.

Then there’s the Zoom work calls.

Lizzie has taken on a senior role with fitness brand Les Mills International.

During one particularly important presentation to the company’s top brass in the UK and US, Lizzie barricaded herself in a bedroom.

It did little to stop the sounds of stomping children from resonating through the door.

On other Zoom calls, Lizzie’s boys drop in for visits, but she never knows what they are going to say to her bosses, she laughed.

While the boys spend mornings with their fully vaccinated nana, Lizzie and Rob still have their hands full entertaining them in the afternoons.

It’s so far involved treasure hunts, exploding volcanoes and going on walks, while their youngest boy Harrison had his own Zoom call with his daycare buddies this week.

Yet with Rob also doing physio consultations online at home, the boys getting older and wanting more attention and Lizzie waking early to join Zoom calls with colleagues in the US and UK, it seems harder than last lockdown to spend quality time together.

The most serene moment the couple get is their 30-minute workouts each morning, Lizzie said.

“Bring on level 3 and 2 please.”

Emily and Luke Orr: newlyweds

Another lockdown, another ruined honeymoon.

That’s how it’s played out for Hamilton couple Emily, 31, and Luke Orr, 35.

The pair married in February last year and were planning to jet off on their Japan and Bali honeymoon when the global Covid-19 pandemic put paid to those plans.

This month they tried again, setting off for a belated honeymoon campervan trip around the South Island.

They got as far as Wellington before New Zealand went into another level 4 lockdown.

“I’m not even joking,” Emily said.

Now she is resigned to marking out future wedding anniversaries as perhaps the only chance they’ll get for that honeymoon.

“We still want to go back to Japan so we figure it might be a 10-year goal,” she said.

Yet since the last lockdown, there has been far more good news than bad as Emily gave birth to their son seven months ago.

Luke’s daughter from a previous relationship, Maddie, is also set to spend time with them in the next week.

But while the house is full and Emily is running online training classes for her business, FastFit Personal Training, she and Luke are still managing to get some quality time together.

“We both communicate well so we never really argue about anything, I guess we just know how each other works,” she said.

Rae and Gavin McGregor: older couple

Authors Rae, 79, and Gavin, 83, McGregor didn’t panic-buy at the supermarket before last year’s lockdown.

Instead, they panic-borrowed from the library.

This time around, lockdown was called so fast they didn’t get the chance to make it to the library.

Fortunately, Rae was due to host the next meeting of her book club which meant the club’s book collection had been left in her garage.

“So I just go down there and have a rustle through that,” she said.

And with so much time to read, she might just go down in history as the best-prepared host when her group finally get the chance to meet again after lockdown.

Aside from that, Rae has been busy with her work as a manuscript assessor, helping other authors bring their books up to a publishable standard.

And she has to get cracking on assessing Gavin’s finished draft for a book about the MV Kaitawa, a ship that disappeared near Cape Reinga with all hands in 1966.

Last lockdown, Gavin feared the pandemic would keep him from his beloved sailing – including his former role as skipper of the Maritime Museum’s heritage sailing ship the Ted Ashby.

Yet sadly it has been a heart attack rather than Covid-19 that stopped him climbing back onto the decks and feeling the wind in his face.

The other hardship for the couple is that the pandemic has made dreams of visiting their son and grandkids in Australia and their daughter in the Netherlands seem ever more distant.

Still, the couple are in good health and are keeping busy, with Gavin pottering in the garden and Rae with her books and quilting.

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