Auckland has finally come out of a lockdown that surpassed 100 days.
From contact tracers to paramedics to hāngī masters, The Hui spoke with essential workers who kept Tāmaki Makaurau running over the past three months and what their hopes for 2022 are.
Bus driver Daniel Manners says the best thing for him - "if there is a best thing about working during COVID" - is being able to provide a service for other essential workers in the city to help them do their job.
"A particular thing that stood out for me [this year] was I had a passenger who after she'd finished work was heading to the city to help some of the homeless people and just help give out blankets and food. And I thought that was just amazing," he tells The Hui.
Manners says 2021 will be remembered as a year with a lot of highs and lows.
"There's been a lot of losses with extended family, and I know that everyone's been through the same thing and not being able to be with their loved ones."
For Ngaire Harris, the clinical manager at Te Whānau o Waipareira, the hardest thing for them has been watching the tangihanga taking place just around the corner.
"We have Haven Falls, and that's one of the Maori funeral homes, and we see the hearses and we see everybody going through all that mamae and their grief in a different COVID way, so that's been very hard to watch," she tells The Hui.
"In 2022 when things start to open, we'll all be looking back at this as a time in history and 2022 is just going to be a bigger, better chapter."
Supermarkets have also had a big job on their hands, keeping shelves stocked during lockdown.
Justin Herewini, the store manager of an Auckland Countdown, says the lockdown has been difficult to work through.
"It's been really hard for staff, coming in every day not knowing what's going to happen and wearing the masks in-store and wearing it continuously all day," he tells The Hui.
"What has been the best thing is the team having my back and having each other's back, everyone being there for each other, just trying to get along day-to-day."
Now that lockdown is over, Herewini is looking forward to seeing family and friends and returning to a sense of normalcy.
Watch the video above to see the stories of a contact tracer, paramedic, midwife, and hāngī master.
Made with support from Te Māngai Pāho and NZ On Air.