Coronavirus: Group calling for Kiwis to 'clap for our champions' sees massive interest

A Facebook group encouraging Kiwis to clap for New Zealand's essential services workers every night has generated massive interest in only two days. 

'Clap for our champions at 7pm' is a Facebook group calling on New Zealanders to head out onto their driveways, doorsteps, gardens and balconies to clap for one minute at 7pm every night. 

The gesture is meant to serve as an acknowledgement of our country's essential services during the alert level 4 COVID-19 lockdown. While most businesses nationwide are required to close, those which assist in providing the necessities of life can continue to operate.

Some of those highlighted by the Facebook group include health workers, supermarket staff, truckers, port workers, waste collectors and the government. 

Having people participate on their properties helps ensure people stay two metres away from those not in their bubbles.

Since it was created on Thursday, the group has had 15,000 users join. The group's discussion section has become filled with shout-outs to those keeping the country running.

"I wanna shout out for the Pukekohe Pak'nSave staff and management for keeping their consumers VALUED & SAFE," said one person.

"As a dog owner I would like to send a very special shout out to all the vets, vet nurses, vet receptionists & pet stores open for us during these hard times," said another. 

"SHOUT OUT TO MY AMAZING MOTHER. She is a checkout operator at Countdown. Not only has she had an item thrown at her by an angry customer, but she even bloody goes in on her days off to be there in all this chaos," added a third.

There are also many who work in essential services commenting on the page thanking people for the support and reminding them of advice to be kind and keep two metres away from each other. 

"I'm working the front line in Pharmacy please be kind we are only doing our best x" was one such comment. 

"I would like to send a shout out and paki paki to my son James. He has taken on the responsibility of minding his sister and two nieces when I'm working at the hospital. He's the man!"

Collective gestures of acknowledgement have emerged around the world since COVID-19 began its global spread three months ago and countries went into lockdown. 

In the United Kingdom, people took part in "Clap for Carers", honouring those working in the health system during the pandemic. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among the participants, briefly stepping outside of 10 Downing St to clap.