Coronavirus: Northland's first Delta cases speak out, send message to holidaying Aucklanders ahead of summer

The whānau who was Northland's first positive COVID cases in the recent outbreak are speaking out and have a message for Auckland holidaymakers who plan to travel north this summer.

"I just think people need to really respect everybody else and keep their distance and follow the rules. Keep in mind these communities, these are our homes, this is where we live. This is what we want to keep sacred to us," Rosalina Puhi tells The Hui.

Rosalina travelled from Mangamuka to Tāmaki last month to pick up her daughter, and she made sure she did all the right things to protect herself from COVID.

"I had my test done before I left, to get through the border, and then I had another test done on the day I arrived in Auckland. As soon as they came back negative, I knew that we were ready to travel. My daughter already had her test done as well while she was in Auckland, and that was us. I thought we had everything in place," Rosalina says.

But when they returned home, Rosalina discovered an unwanted passenger had hitched a ride north.

"I think we were travelling home on the Sunday, got the call on the Tuesday. I was angry and embarrassed. We'd been so protected during this whole pandemic and to be the first person to bring it up to the North was really quite embarrassing. I didn't know how people were going to take it," she says.

Rosalina's biggest fear when she got the positive result was that she had spread the virus to other members of her whānau that she had visited on her way home.

Fortunately, Rosalina got her first dose of the vaccine before the trip and always used the NZ COVID Tracer app.

Manga and Rosalina Puhi.
Manga and Rosalina Puhi. Photo credit: The Hui

She only had mild symptoms, which she puts down to her first dose of vaccine. But a week after she contracted the virus, her husband Manga, who wasn't vaccinated, tested positive and his reaction was much worse.

"He's so healthy and he's strong, his body is like a machine, just pushes through anything. He just went down so fast and then to see him bedridden, it was pretty heartbreaking. It was hard to see, it was hard to watch," she says.

Rosalina started a diary to record what was happening to him. At one stage, she called an ambulance because his symptoms were so severe.

"It was like being like having the bends, something like that when you haven't equalised and my whole head was going to explode, it was like a million hangovers. Just so sore," says Rosalina's husband, Manga Puhi.

Manga's never been vaccinated in his life but is glad his experience with the virus has influenced others to get jabbed.

"It's pretty good to hear from them that they're going to get vaccinated. I'm glad I helped a lot of brothers do that. I think I've got over 30 of my mates vaccinated since this ordeal has happened," Manga adds.

Made with support from Te Māngai Pāho and NZ On Air.

Coronavirus: Northland's first Delta cases speak out, send message to holidaying Aucklanders ahead of summer