Message from the NZPI Board

01 May 2020

Kia ora,

We want to take some time to reach out to you. After almost 5 weeks at Level 4, New Zealand is now at Alert Level 3. This is a really positive development and shows how well New Zealanders have worked together to unite against Covid-19. But as the Prime Minister has cautioned – Alert Level 3 is just the ‘waiting room’. We are not out of the woods yet, and we need to maintain a relatively high level of restrictions at this level and move slowly out of lockdown to ensure the virus does not gain traction once again. Working and living with Covid-19 and the resultant economic crisis is something we have to adapt to. This is a 'new normal', and we have an opportunity to shape our response.

Across NZ we have been experiencing different kinds of challenges, feelings, emotions and uncertainty. The speed of change to 'our comfortable and familiar normal' has been fast and often very unsettling.

As Planners we generally had to close our offices and make a rapid move home to work, learn and connect. We’re using our devices more than ever and video-conferencing via Zoom, Skype or Teams. This includes mastering how to put on the virtual background to turn the bookshelf, kitchen or blank wall into a scene from Africa, or Minecraft or a café. We’re flexible - we are working in bedrooms, on kitchen tables shared by other family members or people in your bubble, in garages, caravans and spare rooms. Figuring out our and our bubble’s new normal has had benefits and serious challenges that we continue to adjust and respond to – this takes time.

Our industry has been challenged with how we can continue to deliver quality planning outcomes during lock-down with many moving swiftly to ensure we could continue to deliver planning services. While the government provided early support with wage subsidies and other business innovations, we are realistic that the implications of Covid-19 will continue for some time.

More than ever we need kindness and part of this kindness needs to be to ourselves. Emotional and mental wellbeing is important. We are all experiencing Covid-19 differently – it is normal to feel anxious or stressed at times about Covid-19 and what’s happening in the economy or to you, your family, your colleagues or friends. You may also have conflicting feelings and this is OK too - you may be enjoying no commute and working in your pyjamas. There are things we can all do:

Stay Connected - Now more than ever connect with your organisation, family, friends, colleagues, mentor and your team. This can be hard sometimes, but it is so important.

Allow yourself time to notice and express what you’re feeling. This could be by writing thoughts and feelings down in a journal, talking to others, doing something creative or practising meditation.

Reach out to others. Talk with people about how you’re feeling. Be a listening ear for others if you can. Many employers offer EAP services.

Exercise. This can help you to relax and have a positive impact on your thoughts.

Routine. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time, and eat at regular times

Get involved. Attend, or even help organise an NZPI Zoom lunchtime session or panel discussion, organise virtual coffee chat sessions, learn a new skill or write an article for Planning Focus. Reach out to your Branch committee and plan a future event for when we can socialise again in person.

It can be as simple as creating difference in your days, such as changing your clothes for different events/situations

Our government has recognised that importance of maintaining mental health. You can find further information or guidance at the following websites:

We have much to be proud of in terms of our response to a highly extraordinary set of circumstances. Take time to thank yourself and each and every one around you – it takes a seriously determined country to take on Covid-19 and plan for economic recovery.

We as the NZPI Board continue to look ahead to start to understand more of the impacts and headwinds we face. It’s challenging on all levels – personal, company, organisational and as a profession. We are all learning what opportunities we can create as the 'new normal' and as Planners it is important we take our place in this discussion locally and nationally.

We are committed to ensuring the planner’s voice is heard as the Government develops future legislation and approaches to develop and strengthen our economy. Planners have an important role drawing on our expertise and ability to be future focussed, pragmatic and inclusive.

These are extraordinarily challenging times, so take time to look after yourself and reach out to others. Share with us what you need and how the NZPI can support the profession.

Stay safe.

Andrea Harris, Graeme McCarrison, Jonathan Clease, Karyn Sinclair, Luke O’Dwyer, Orchid Atimalala, Reginald Proffit, Sarah Jenkin, Shane Roberts
The NZPI Board