Saturday, November 27

New Zealand family rents a plane to fly to a new life in Australia after weeks stuck in Aotearoa

The closing of the trans-Tasman bubble and the New Zealand lockdown has left Kiwis and Australians stranded on either side of the Tasman for weeks while flights are suspended or canceled and has led some to take extreme measures.

Tim, Poroutu and Te Awa

Tim Knowlman with husband Poroutu and daughter Te Awa. They booked a charter flight through the Tasman.
Photo: RNZ / Tim Knowlman

After weeks of stress, expense, canceled flights and COVID-19 testing, Tim Knowlman, her husband Poroutu, and their 13-month-old daughter booked a charter plane to cross Tasman and are now in managed isolation in Brisbane.

Their move to Australia had been planned for months and the young family were days away from making the move when the closure occurred, leaving them without jobs, a home or flights while all their possessions were already on their way to Brisbane.

The couple joined a Facebook page dedicated to Australians and Kiwis trapped on either side of the Tasman that had more than 8,000 people, Knowlman said.

It was there that they saw a post from another New Zealander who was chartering a flight to Brisbane and looking for other interested parties.

“Due to deadlines, we were unable to travel with that particular man, but he gave us the details of the charter company that was based at Auckland Airport,” Knowlman said.

The charter company had been “very, very busy … flying non-stop Australians and Kiwis living in Australia back to Australia.”

Tim and Poroutu received a quote from the charter company and then posted their own message on the Facebook group to see if any trapped Australian or Kiwi colleagues wanted to join the flight and split the cost.

More than a dozen responded and wanted to join, Knowlman said.

Tim Knowlman with husband Poroutu and daughter Te Awa.

Tim, Poroutu and Te Awa.
Photo: RNZ / Tim Knowlman

“The process itself was very, very easy. The (charter) company made it very, very simple. They said they would organize all of our MIQ bookings in Australia when we arrived and we actually found that the process with the charter company it was incredibly easy.

“Once we decided that we would do it, we swallowed our pride and paid the enormous amount of money.”

“The whole process with canceled flights, canceled tests and charter of a plane. I would say the total will probably be close to NZ $ 40,000.”

The past few weeks had been extremely stressful for Knowlman’s family and it was only when the plane took off that he allowed himself to believe it was true, he said.

“I’ve been this eternal pessimist for the last few weeks because I never thought it would happen, and even until we got on this plane. I just thought there was going to be something that was going to happen. Hang on our journey and it wasn’t really until we took off that I realized realized that everything was going to go according to plan. “

It wasn’t the New Zealand government that delayed your move to Australia, Knowlman.

“During the course of the lockdown, we discovered as we investigated further that the problem was a state government problem (Australian) as well as a federal government problem.”

“Initially, the Queensland government had closed all domestic and international arrivals to Queensland for a period of time, but then we found out that it was a problem related to international arrival limits to Australia, which is really minimal. There are something like 40,000 Australians abroad trying to return to Australia.

“We had packed our house, all of our belongings had been packed and shipped and we arrived in Australia before us, so we lived without suitcases. We lived in a relative’s guest room for several weeks and then in an Airbnb for several weeks as well. that we feel like a plastic bag, floating in the breeze. “

His family members had not yet been able to meet his daughter Te Awa, who was born during the New Zealand shutdown in 2020 and Knowlman said there were a lot of people in the same situation as his family.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have been able and to have the means to be able to do what we did. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who are desperate to go back. Kiwis, who normally live in Australia and the despair and exasperation you see in the Facebook page every day is really sad.

“It’s a really terrible situation for many, many people, so we certainly feel incredibly lucky and very lucky to have made it here.”

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