Lizzie Marvelly: Love and kindness in our time of need

I’m heartened by outpourings of aroha and kindness in a time of need.

I've come to the conclusion that 2016 is trolling us.

It all started with the death of David Bowie, then Alan Rickman, Prince, Muhammed Ali, and Leonard Cohen upped and left us too.

Britain voted to leave the EU.

Extremists killed 86 people in Nice.

America took temporary leave of its collective sanity and elected a demagogue.

Brian Tamaki revealed his lack of understanding of basic geology and - quite coincidentally, because, science - New Zealand was hit by a terrifying 7.8 earthquake, crippling Waiau and Kaikoura and delivering a first jab to the capital, which would later be compounded by torrential rain, gale force winds and widespread flooding.

I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to tell this year exactly where to shove it.

The All Blacks losing to Ireland was but a lightly stubbed toe compared to the rest of the horrors 2016 has held in store.

Yet alongside the calamitous events of November, an almost defiant sense of goodwill has broken out in New Zealand.

While America remains in the throes of deep division, reeling from the impact of its own momentous November, New Zealanders have banded together.

Community spirit has shone through the torrential rain, the slips and the shakes as Kiwis have turned to each other in our time of need.

I heard the first whispers of that spirit during the minutes directly following the earthquake.

Shaken awake by gentle rocking in Auckland, I rolled over and reached for my phone.

If we'd felt it here in the relatively stable north, I knew it must have been far worse further down the country.

Sure enough, the #eqnz hashtag lit up with gusto on social media, with Kiwis sending love, prayers and support to each other.

And so began a week of what I can only describe as manaakitanga - the te reo word denoting kindness, hospitality, generosity and care.

Across the country, Kiwis were glued to the news, donating to the Red Cross, contributing to Givealittle pages for families affected by looting, and doing their bit to help in any way they could.

A student army assembled in Marlborough.

Christchurch residents - who knew exactly what Kaikoura was going through - rallied together after Rangiora resident Larina Tiffen put a call out on Facebook resulting in planes loaded with "care packages" winging their way up the South Island.

It's immensely reassuring to see that our ability to care for our communities still rests in our bones.

Farmers worked together to milk each other's cows.

Former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw jumped in a chopper and flew rescue teams in to the worst hit areas.

Kaikoura's Takahanga Marae, to my mind, deserves a special mention.

It has embodied the very best of Māori tikanga this week.

Marae are increasingly becoming backbones of local communities in times of need, as evidenced earlier this year by Te Puea and Manurewa Marae and their care of Auckland's homeless.

Watching the lines of tourists queuing at Takahanga to receive meals of crayfish donated by Ngai Tahu on the news on Tuesday night, along with the rows of mattresses laid out for stranded tourists in the wharemoe (sleeping house), I felt a surge of aroha for our Ngai Tahu cousins.

I will be forever thankful that in times of disaster Kiwis come together.

It doesn't matter whether we're city-dwellers or farmers, we love this little country of ours, and we hate to see it hurting.

Looking after each other is one of our oldest values, and though our modern lives have become increasingly individualistic, it's immensely reassuring to see that our ability to care for our communities still rests in our bones.

This latest quiver of our shaky isles will be felt literally and figuratively for months, or even years to come.

Luckily, Kiwis have a fortifying sense of humour and a tendency for optimism.

We tell our kids that earthquakes are just the earth farting.

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We have land-surfing cows that have become international media sensations.

Our geological hazard authority even tweets the odd picture of baby kiwis to provide us with a dose of #emergencycute.

We're a hardy bunch who prefer to look on the bright side, and I have no doubt we will get through.

I say "we" in a symbolic sense, of course, as I have been one of the lucky ones.

I've felt a mixture of guilt and uselessness this week, watching our southern brothers and sisters struggling and being unable to help other than by donating to the Red Cross.

Those of us living with stable ground under our feet cannot begin to imagine what you're going through, we can only send our thoughts, prayers and donations your way.

And tell all our friends and family, here and abroad, to come back and visit you when you're back on your feet.

During the many hours I spent attached to the news this week, I noticed an otherwise enormously trivial story that took on a new meaning in the light of our most recent run of bad luck.

McDonald's in Italy has created a Nutella Burger - a delicious-sounding concoction involving a warm sweet bun and gooey Nutella.

I think that they should introduce it in New Zealand next, and ship a few crates into Kaikoura, Waiau and Cheviot.

God knows they could do with a bit of cheering up.

And speaking of something to cheer about... No pressure, All Blacks, but this would be a great weekend for a win.

- NZ Herald

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