May the Dawn of a New Morning herald the Dawn of a New Year (Screen Grab)
For devout Muslims, they have been unable to participate in the Hajj to their holy places in the Arabian Peninsula, for many Asian families, they have been unable to travel home to China, Malaysia or other nations for the Lunar New Year and for others, they were unable to even put together a simple backyard BBQ with friends and family for fear of Covid or due to ongoing Government restrictions.
It has been an unbearable experience for these communities, many of them plan their celebrations months in advance, sometimes already beginning as the previous year’s event comes to a close; these functions are the lifeblood of New Zealand’s cultural diversity and losing great occasions to celebrate our cultures has been really tough on morale, let alone the economic outlook of many New Zealanders.
Our largest celebrations for the Lunar New Year were already cancelled before Christmas due to uncertainties of what 2022 would bring but some glimmers of hope have been able to proceed. A few days ago I celebrated the Lunar New Year with the Korean Society of Auckland as they unveiled their latest renovations, a new outdoor deck space to enhance the community centre for the many Korean Aucklanders and other members of the public who use the facilities.
Over the next month (Covid willing!), I will be travelling around New Zealand attending a variety of events again with Korean, Chinese and Indian community events already scheduled in my diary as well as herald the return of the Auckland Lantern Festival.
The biggest thing New Zealanders want even with Omicron entering our nation is a return to normalcy. We want to get back to living the lives New Zealand promises both those born in this beautiful country and those who have come here from other parts of the world to work, innovate and grow their lives.
It was no surprise when the borders came down between Auckland and the rest of New Zealand the citizens of our largest region flocked to other parts of New Zealand to herald in the New Year and salvage their summers on beaches from Mount Maunganui to New Brighton.
Personally, I stayed home this year, supporting our local Auckland economy struggling to get back on its feet after so many weeks of instability, I took pleasures in the small things from building back my Award-winning golf swing to helping train a new addition to my family, an energetic miniature schnauzer puppy.
Now that New Zealanders are heading back to their offices, to their jobs and to their lives many will be asking themselves what will 2022 mean for me?
We don’t know the answers to that question this year but one thing is certain, 2022 cannot be like 2020 or 2021. We need normalcy back, we need to get out of our Covid induced shell and start celebrating our cultures again.
I am looking forward to speaking with you all again at Lunches, Dinners, Musical concerts and Political Forums as I, alongside my National Caucus Colleagues, get out across our nation to talk with you, to make sure your voice is heard against the Government’s refusal to listen. It is my job as a Member of Parliament to fight for you, to give everything I have to make sure that all New Zealanders are heard in our House of Representatives and that includes the voice of those whose lives have been put on hold through the oppressive impact of Covid-19.
2022 must be the year New Zealand gets back on track and not another year of woeful legislation, rising costs of living and preventable lockdowns.
Let’s get on with our lives.
Melissa Lee is a Member of Parliament on National List and the Party’s Spokesperson for Broadcasting and Media Digital Economy and Communications and Ethnic Communities.