American singer Amanda Palmer broke down in tears recalling how a Christchurch audience sang the New Zealand national anthem to reassure her about being stuck in Aotearoa during the pandemic lockdown.
Formerly one half of the alt rock duo Dresden Dolls, Palmer was on the last leg of her solo tour in March, intending to stay in New Zealand for just a week when the country moved into COVID-19 alert level 4 to fight the spread of coronavirus.
She's now been living here for six months, having settled in Havelock North, where she said the "kindness and generosity" she's been shown has been "unbelievable".
Palmer had been offered a car on indefinite loan by a stranger, brought clothes, a bike and books for her five-year-old son; but the most moving memory came from her last live gig in Christchurch.
"I was crying while I was on stage because I was so uncertain about what was going to happen to me and my family," Palmer said, explaining that her partner and son were still overseas at the time.
"It was all sort of falling apart."
Palmer said she made a quip about 'being stuck in New Zealand', which prompted one member of the audience to start singing the national anthem.
"Then someone else joined in, and then the whole room was singing, in Māori. Everyone stood up and started singing the national anthem to me," Palmer said, breaking down in tears.
"I felt so welcome. It was silly, but it was such a beautiful moment of knowing that this country wants me here, they'll let me stay."
Palmer said she doesn't know how long she'll be in New Zealand for, but it will be at least long enough for her to play an Auckland show as part of Elemental Nights on November 20. She also has shows coming up in Wellington, Dunedin and Hawke's Bay, and apparently, is in no rush to get back home to America.
"It's not a good scene, man," Palmer said.
"I never would have forecasted that I would be here for so long, but things in my country just keep falling apart harder and harder and it just keeps seeming like a more insane idea to bring a child to America right now."
Amanda Palmer will play two shows in Wellington on October 23 and 24, as well as one in Dunedin on November 6 and one in Hawke's Bay on November 14 before her Elemental Nights show in Auckland on November 20.