Thursday, October 28, 2021

Here’s the thing about JAFAs

Let’s not lose sight of the remarkable diversity of people who call Auckland home.

Abigail Dougherty

Let’s not lose sight of the remarkable diversity of people who call Auckland home.

OPINION: During the course of their long (now eight plus) weeks of either Level 4 or Level 3 lockdown, I have been regularly ringing my friends on the North Shore to help relieve their boredom (not that I’m saying I’m necessarily successful in doing that).

These are really good people. I first met my mate when we sold drugs together back in the late-80’s.

I bet that made you blink, but what we were selling were pharmaceuticals for a multi-national drug company.

He has since gone on to create his own medical supply company through hard graft, smart thinking and taking chances. They have done well, and good on them.

He messaged me on Sunday and what he said made me quite sad; being words to the effect that “the country will be swearing at the bloody JAFAs now, spreading Covid far and wide”.

I assured him that the majority of folk down here wouldn’t be thinking that way, and I hope I was accurate in that statement.

* You better believe I didn’t cry
* A rare moment’s maturity meant doctors caught my cancer early
* The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse

The acronym JAFA creates a false picture in our heads, a picture that covers just a small sector of the vast array of people who live in Auckland.

Why is it when we think of a JAFA we don’t think of the worker in South Auckland fronting up to the warehouse every night ensuring supplies get sent to the rest of the country instead of conjuring up a mental picture of a latte sipper on the Viaduct?

Why don’t we think of the rest home worker in Glen Innes fronting up to work each day terrified she might be bringing Covid from the outside into a vulnerable population instead of someone jumping a horse over a fence when not sneaking down to Wānaka?

Why don’t we think of the port worker constantly risking their own well-being by handling goods from the outside, Covid-riddled world instead of someone out sailing a yacht wearing a pastel-coloured cardigan tied tastefully around their neck as they view their domain through thousand-dollar sunglasses?

It’s because, as humans, we like to bunch people into groups that suit our own prejudices. And I was not, and I guess to an extent, am still not, immune to this behaviour myself.

Central Otago District Mayor Tim Cadogan.

Jo McKenzie-McLean/Stuff

Central Otago District Mayor Tim Cadogan.

I changed my own JAFA view when I travelled to Auckland a couple of days after the February 2011 earthquake.

I will always recall the scene at the airport when we landed and were faced with what seemed to be hundreds of volunteers lined up to assist refuges that had got out of the devastated city.

Driving into the city, many fences had “Kia kaha Christchurch” or similar painted on sheets hung over them and once in the heart of Queen Street, there were an endless row of people with donation buckets, people busking or similar to raise funds etc.

It was a wake up to me how Aucklanders felt about another part of the country going through a crisis and it totally altered my view on the people of our biggest city.

So I hope my mate is wrong and that we are not cursing the JAFAs for letting Covid loose because in my view we should be thanking them.

Thanking them for keeping the weak pulse of our economy going by getting goods in and out our second biggest port and for getting more goods and our returning whānau through our biggest airport.

We should be thanking them for not just the eight plus weeks of Level 4 or three that they still endure but for the three other level three lockdowns they have had that we haven’t had to live through since this pandemic began.

And we should thank them for the great job that they have done at almost keeping the sneaky Delta variant within their borders, and in doing so giving the rest of the country time to get vaccinated, time to create our own individual border against this illness.

Only time will tell if the efforts of our Auckland friends will have been used wisely enough by enough of us down here to make a difference when this bastard bug gets here, as I think we all know now it inevitably will.

Tim Cadogan is the Central Otago District Mayor.

This article first show on Source link Author TIM CADOGAN on date 2021-10-14 21:02:36


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