Kōrero with Kaiora Tipene: My ideal Christmas

After a tough lockdown year, Kaiora’s heart is set on an idyllic Far North beach, where her kids can run free and finally catch up with whānau.

At the moment, I’m dreaming of Tokerau Beach on Karikari Peninsula. It’s such a beautiful place. I’d give anything to be there in the Far North with my whānau, get my feet in the sand and feel the sun on my face.

My children are desperate to see their cousins and they’ll be so happy to run free and ride their quad bikes and their horses. You can do that in the country. We can’t really do that in the city, especially not here in Onehunga.

I guess lockdown makes us appreciate things more. By November, I had even stopped enjoying my walks. I usually love walking. I love my time out. But after 12 weeks, I actually got frustrated, because I’d had enough of seeing the same scenery.

And I wasn’t the only one getting frustrated. My eldest, Nikora, signed out of school because he was struggling with homeschooling. I’m just glad that he was open about it. He’s now employed full-time with us at Tipene Funerals and, at some point in time, he’s hoping to study automotive engineering.

My other four boys though – I really appreciated their patience. Especially with my school-age children being seven, eight and 13. They all needed someone to physically be present and motivate them. I’m so grateful that we have our auntie at home who was able to help. When I was at work, I just told her when they needed to be in front of their computers for their Zooms. Unfortunately, they learned to just switch into the Zoom and run away or just stand next to the computer and not listen and start drawing or doing other things. I got to a point where I had to give them incentives and say, “If you do your school work today, Mummy will be able to take you out to the beach or get you some lollies from the shop.”

We went to the beach one day but, oh my goodness, it was packed. There was no way I was going to stop there. So we went slightly past Mission Bay and there were fewer people – it was controllable. I was able to keep the kids safe in a little area and have a picnic. But they loved it. It almost felt close to having some normality; it just felt good!

There were some other good things about being locked down too. Before, it was just so full-on at work, I’d just come home and order Uber Eats or make something really quick and easy for dinner. Lockdown has forced me to be home earlier and prepare the dinner. It’s actually brought out the chef in me! And it means we get to share that whānau time, which is so precious.

So there have been some silver linings, but the best Christmas present I could imagine is being able to cross the borders and see my family in person.

The lockdown has taught my children some responsibilities at home too. That first two hours after they get up, they have breakfast, they know to do their own dishes now. They know to make their own beds and if it is a washing day, they know to wash their clothes, hang them out, or at least help Mum to hang them out.

So there have been some silver linings, but the best Christmas present I could imagine is being able to cross the borders and see my family in person. I really miss my mum, my sister and the rest of my whānau and the remote beauty of Tokerau Beach.

Kaiora Tipene works with her husband, Francis, as a funeral director. Their humour and knowledge of tikanga is featured in their Netflix show, The Casketeers.

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