You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Mother and daughter have been unable to meet in person for almost two years, since Covid-19 forced the border closures between New Zealand and Australia.
Since April last year, Maree Kearns has been trying to get home to visit her elderly mum, who is a resident of Radius Fulton in Dunedin.
"It was very difficult for Mum around the time of the first lockdown, in 2020, as that was when she was selling her home and moving into Radius Fulton," Maree said.
From her home in Queensland, she had had booked flights repeatedly cancelled due to the border closure.
"So when things looked to be gradually reopening at the end of February, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer.
"It took a lot of organising to get a vaccine pass for New Zealand and to organise to self-isolate on my way to Dunedin."
"On the very day I flew over, the isolation requirement was dropped, which made things simpler," she said.
Getting to the airport was not so simple though, as she had to drive through a flooded Queensland to make it to the airport as no trains were running.
While the lack of an isolation requirement was good, it came about because of New Zealand’s rising Omicron infection rates, which resulted in tightening of restrictions at rest-homes.
"The good news is, I have been able to get in to see Mum at Radius Fulton, which has involved taking a Rat test each time I go," she said.
"I certainly have very clean nostrils."
It was a great relief for her to be able to spend time with her mother, who was turning 94 in April and had good and bad days.
Both were very grateful for the chance to make up for lost time, and intended to make the most of the next few weeks together.
"I’m very happy to be able to come and spend time with her while things are still good, and Mum is very excited to have me here."
As an only child, she had stayed in contact through frequent phone calls and video calls, but had missed having in-person contact.
"There’s nothing quite like the real thing," she said.
Fortunately, her cousin Jan Newall lived in Dunedin and had visited her mother regularly.
"She has been a great help, and a wonderful support for Mum."
Last weekend, she and her cousin were able to take her mother out of the rest-home and give her a change of scenery at her cousin’s home, which they all enjoyed.
Working in project administration for an IT company meant she had been able to work remotely while in Dunedin, and her job gave her the flexibility to remain here until March 24.
"We are just so happy to have been able to make this visit happen, even while the Omicron outbreak is going on.
"It has been very important for both of us."