The Government announced last week it would consider charging incoming arrivals to New Zealand for their two-week quarantine.
Some support arriving New Zealanders paying for their two-week stint. Some see it as a gross injustice at a time people are being displaced under difficult circumstances.
I happen to be of the latter. As a New Zealander living in London, perhaps I am biased, yes. But how could one not be? I've seen friends lose jobs, watched those on two-year visas agonise over the final months of their legally allotted time here and read posts in Kiwis in London from those who had moved over pre-pandemic, didn't get a job before lockdown hit, and don't have the funds to fly home.
The Government never offered repatriation flights. The idea that those living in London, in often criminally underpaid jobs, could afford the $3000 flight home (that's what it was costing when many airlines were cancelling their flights), was ridiculous. That's even if the flight went ahead. One friend had three flights cancelled - despite wanting to come home months ago, she physically couldn't.
Many of these people have lost jobs they once believed secure. The economic impact of this pandemic has been devastating, and its full impact hasn't yet been revealed. A job thought solid in March when Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters called for people to return may not be so four months later after the decimation of a company. A suggestion from Heather du Plessis-Allan that those who live in London are somehow economically endowed is false. Most Kiwis in London are here on their own dime and require a job to stay.
Most don't want to go home. They have lives established overseas - jobs, friends, relationships. One friend was meant to be sponsored by her workplace to stay beyond her two-year visa which runs out in September. Due to Covid-19, it can no longer do so and she has to leave in little over a month - after spending the past year planning for a longer-term life here.
I started a travel journalism position in February on a six-month contract that was almost certain to be extended. My company has unsurprisingly made a number of redundancies, and my role teeters on the precipice. Journalism positions are being culled around the world, and finding a new role is 10 times harder than it was.
I'll have to consider moving home if I can't find anything. This is not a crisis that has wealthy people returning back to New Zealand in droves - those for whom a $3000 hotel bill would be readily available. It is the people who live paycheck to paycheck, just beginning careers and simply don't have flush bank accounts - $3000 isn't just unachievable, it's often impossible.
Charging for incoming holidaymakers might be understandable, however even some of these are coming under less than joyful circumstances.
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Life, unfortunately, has continued and many people have contracted diseases unrelated to Covid-19. A relative recently had to face crippling fear of flying to be with her daughter who has been diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. Should she have to pay an extra $3000 on top of the costs to be with her very unwell daughter?
Coronavirus has torn the world apart in many ways - some obvious, some subtle. It's hard to portray to Kiwis back home the sheer, stomach-churning fear at being so far from home and having the possibility of returning snatched away.
There is a quiet comfort in knowing you can be walking through Auckland arrivals, that weird native birdsong track tinkling in the background, in 48 hours if need be.
Shoving a $3000 bill into the hands of people - who, yes, have likely returned because push came to shove - goes against what I believe this country stands for. I have always been proud to call myself a Kiwi. People often sigh as they reminisce on visiting our magical shores. But, as the pitchfork mob assembles - rallied by the politically driven - I can't help but feel ashamed.
To those reading from home who feel their tax money is being unduly spent on frivolous jetsetters - I implore you to consider what you might say if your son, daughter, brother, or anyone you loved was stuck overseas and jobless. Would your stance be the same?
Would you do all you could to bring them home, to hug them again? After all - that's what being a Kiwi is about. Welcoming people, our people, with open arms.
• Molly Codyre is, for now, a New Zealander living and working in London.