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My MIQ Open Day experience

My MIQ Open Day experience

  • 06 Dec 2021
Elena Bennett

Elena Bennett, pictured, is a Tupu Toa intern on a 12-week placement with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) in the Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Team. Of Samoan (village of Tanugamanono) and Māori (Te Arawa, Ngā Puhi and Ngāti Maniapoto) descent, Elena is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Development Studies and Sociology, minoring in International Relations at Victoria University of Wellington. She shares her intern experience.

Prior to joining the MIQ Communications Team at MBIE as a Pacific intern in mid-November, my perspective of MIQ - as well as most New Zealanders - was greatly shaped by the media. 

For the most part, media have focussed on the things which that have not gone well with MIQ, while ignoring the many successes of the system. 

Being part of the MIQ Communications team, I have experienced the other side of things - the MIQ system from the inside. 

In late November, I was fortunate to travel to Christchurch to be part of The Elms Opening day in Christchurch.

The Elms is Aotearoa New Zealand’s 32nd MIQ facility. 

When walking into the facility for the first time, I was amazed at the various equipment and signage throughout the facility to ensure that necessary precautions should be taken. 

The first thing you notice when walking into the facility are the high fences and large signs. 

The hotel bar has been transformed into a room to store Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and a place where live CCTV footage of the public spaces of the facility can be accessed. 

The car park has been transformed into a fresh air area - returnees in the facility are able to visit this area in their designated time slots. 

In addition to the fresh air area, there is also a smoking area.

Within the facility is an operation centre, previously used as a sunroom and the former dining area which has been transformed into a space to prepare meals. 

The media were present for much of the morning conducting interviews and touring the facility. 

At midday, we got an insight into the food made for returnees while they are in MIQ. 

I was blown away by how good the food was. 

Later in the afternoon we welcomed friends and whānau from the Christchurch community to come and have a look at the new MIQ facility and provided them with an insight into how MIQ operates.

It was a great opportunity for the community to see the amazing work done behind the scenes.  

My task for the afternoon was to document the visitor’s details, and to organise them into groups of 10 to take a tour of the facility.

I was amazed at the turnout – by 3pm we already had 10 groups go through. There were even people lining up to come in before the facility was open to public. 

The key thing which stood out for me from the Opening Day, was the substantive work that goes on behind the scenes, and on the frontline. 

The work done behind the scenes like creating returnee packs for those arriving in MIQ, to the work that is done on the frontline – like the nurses on site from early hours in the morning to late at night to do health and wellbeing checks.

Being able to experience how a MIQ facility operates has been an eye opener and has allowed me to gain my own perspective. 

I am grateful to have had this experience to see what MIQ is really like.

Being able to visit The Elms and also being a part of the MIQ Communications Team more broadly, I have been able to see the huge effort put into the MIQ system.

Coming away from this trip, I have an even greater appreciation for all the long hours, dedication and hard work that goes into making MIQ facilities run smoothly so that our families and loved ones can return home.