27.03. Lessons about NZ
Thank you for asking how I made it, NZ Embassy
This morning I have received an email from the New Zealand Embassy in Buenos Aires. It read as follows:
"Dear S******* [name as shown in passport spelled wrong]
Let me start by giving you my apologies for not having responded sooner. Only now I realized that the email response I have drafted for you never left my e-mail. Where you able to make it back home? We would like to know how are you doing and what is your current situation.
Kindest regards and again, my deepest regrets for the late response.
This was my response:
I have received a reply from the NZ embassy on 17 March. This was the content:
You should receive the latest information through SafeTravel. New Zealand is not an affected region, so travel bans haven't been announced officially yet.
You should be able to travel to New Zealand with Air NZ, and you will be required to self isolate for 14 once you arrive. The guidelines for self isolation can be found in https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-novel-coronavirus-health-advice-general-public/covid-19-staying-home-self-isolation
Should the situation change in the following days, you will be updated though SafeTravel.
Embajada de Nueva Zelandia"
After this email which didn’t help at all, I called the Consular Emergency Service in Wellington. After talking to them I knew that the NZ government would do NOTHING to get New Zealanders out of Argentina and anywhere else. They said, and I quote: “We can’t really help. We are ONLY the government, not Air New Zealand!”
The best tip they gave me was to contact the German Embassy as I hold dual citizenship. And God, what a difference! They were working day and night, and after registering with them I would have been on their flight to Germany on Monday, 23 March, and might have got a flight to NZ from there.
Until yesterday Germany repatriated 160,000 Germans. As far as I know, the number of Kiwis evacuated by the NZ government still stands at ZERO, and our Prime Minister still has the excuse that commercial flights are still available. [Update: I have to correct myself. In early February the New Zealand government evacuated 193 individuals of 12 nationalities from Wuhan, among them 54 New Zealand citizens and 44 permanent residents on Chinese passports.]
Back in Buenos Aires I thought the situation was too precarious to wait until Monday, so last Saturday I travelled to EZEIZA airport illegally as I had no valid ticket, and that was because I could not pay the NZ$ 11,000 (yes: eleven thousand) online. Qatar Airways would not accept a friend in the UK to purchase my ticket with her credit card.
I was stressed out at the airport for several hours until Qatar Airways opened their counter and I could purchase my ticket there with my credit card which, lucky me, had a high enough limit to pay the extortionate price. I then flew around the whole world and landed in Auckland on Tuesday after 37 hours. Then it was still possible to get on a flight back down to Christchurch, so I am at home now.
The lessons to be learnt are:
I can trust the German government to help desperate travellers in need.
There is no need to register on the SafeTravel site, as it only gives the NZ government the number of Kiwis left to rot in other parts of the world.
With the NZ embassy’s and the NZ government’s help I would still sit in my nice hotel room in Buenos Aires, and if I ever made it out of there after several weeks, I would be imprisoned in a small hotel room in Auckland for self-isolation or quarantine.
Everyone on their own or you are lost, that’s the great Kiwi spirit of community and resilience. Oh, I forgot to add our PM’s favourite words: kindness, caring and wellbeing.
The NZ government and their agencies are only there to help if they can help themselves to your money.
The NZ government is great in leaving their own citizens to other countries to deal with.
I am not proud to be a New Zealander.
There is no need for NZ’s embassy in Buenos Aires to have an emergency number if no-one answers the phone – not even from 10am to 1pm (Mon – Fri).
But thanks for asking. I have made it out of Argentina because I have good nerves and speak Spanish, and because I was lucky enough to have family and friends who informed me about Air NZ abandoning New Zealanders in Argentina and other countries, despite contrary announcements three days earlier. I had support from my worldwide Facebook community, with one of them buying the NZ$ 11,000 ticket for me before I could do it myself at the airport counter.