Coronavirus: Rural New Zealand sends support to Aucklanders amid COVID-19 lockdown

Rural Kiwis have rallied in support of Aucklanders as the city remains at alert level 3.

New Zealanders from farms, factories and schools all across the country have been sharing messages on the Kia Kaha Auckland Facebook page, encouraging their big-city "cousins" to stay strong throughout the lockdown. 

The country's biggest city has been at alert level 3 for almost two weeks now, after community transmission of COVID-19 was once again confirmed earlier this month. 

On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland would remain at alert level 3 until Sunday night, when it would be lowered to alert level 2.

The rest of New Zealand has been at alert level 2 since August 12.

The Kia Kaha Auckland page was created by a group of business people from the food and fibre sector in the Waikato with the aim of showing compassion to those forced to return to lockdown.

"This is a way the rest of New Zealand can show the Auckland team of 1.9 million that the rest of the team of five million is thinking of them and wishing them strength in adversity," the group's spokesperson, Lee Astridge from No8HR in Te Awamutu, said on Tuesday.

"We're a bunch of rural people who believe that stepping up and showing we care for everyone in New Zealand ultimately gives the country the best chance to thrive."

As well as featuring personal messages for Aucklanders recorded from across rural New Zealand, the page is also filled with cute and cuddly animal photos and videos showing the lighter side of farm life. 

"We just loved the idea of connecting our rural communities with those in Auckland," says Jules Benton, chief executive of the Dairy Women's Network.

"Our town and country lives are very different but also mutually dependent and we wanted to make sure that our Auckland communities felt supported by us."

Jenna Smith, chief executive of Pouarua Farms, says she joined the initiative to make sure resources from the food and fibre sector could be directed to where they were needed most.

"Whether it’s meat, milk or blankets, it's important that the practical things get from our rural communities to where they are needed."

"Part of the Kia Kaha Auckland initiative will be about making sure that when communities come under pressure, resources from the food and fibre sector are directed to the right places and that’s something we think we can help with," Smith said.