"Who would ever have thought the island would be used for quarantining people again?" When Keeper Dries Van den Broeck, Nadjejda Espinel and their children went to live on Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua in Otago Harbour in 2017, no-one could foresee that they would end their tour of duty on the island in actual quarantine.
The family were planning to leave Aotearoa at the end of March 2020 but the COVID-19 wave overtook them. And what better place to hang out as a family, with Nadjejda’s PhD in Marine Science in the bag, Portobello Store a quick boat ride away, no groups of visitors on the island to look after, and lots of projects for Jack of all trades Dries to work on.
As Dries tells it...
"So today we’ve been in lockdown for seven days. I only went off the island once (to Portobello) to get some fuel and baking soda. At times like this you need to keep up with your baking."
"The weather has allowed us to do many outside chores. Weatherboards have been added/removed/painted. Also in the reserve we moved the fence so a bigger planting area has been created for future revegetation projects."
"The kids enjoy their home schooling projects with Nadjejda in the morning and love playing outside or helping me outside in the afternoon. We’re pretty lucky to have all the space here, on windy or rainy days we use the old Quarantine Station for playing games. It’s like a big hall to play in. Nadjejda has now officially successfully finished her PhD thesis and is making use of her time to finish writing some papers.
"We haven’t seen anybody for the last week and I’m amazed how locals are respecting the lockdown rules. I’m pretty lucky to still be able to do my work. At this time of year we usually get a lot of groups on day or overnight visits to the island, and we had about 15 cancellations, so the Corona crisis has also had a financial impact on our small charity."
"At the moment we’re very much enjoying family time and being outdoors. Who would ever have thought the island would be used for quarantining people again?" Dries Van den Broeck
Two members of the Quarantine Island Community have been in isolation in the Lodge, which is separate from the Keeper’s Cottage, working during the week, and enjoying the island and helping out with chores in the evenings and weekends.
Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua