Last September, Auckland mum Ruthie Nielson went through the terrifying ordeal of battling Covid pneumonia, a severe complication of Covid-19, all while seven-months pregnant.
Nielson (Ngāpuhi), along with 16 of her whānau, contracted the virus after attending a tangi in August 2020, an event that was permitted under the level restrictions at the time.
Initially she wasn't symptomatic, and went back to life as normal, until some of her whānau that had also attended the tangi started getting sick.
They urged eachother to get tested, which is when Nielson went for a swab and soon after found out she was a positive case.
“It was a really terrifying time, when I first heard the news, I was just shocked because I didn’t know… I was just thinking about all the people I’d just seen,” she told 1NEWS.
The Auckland māmā is speaking out about her experience now, as part of a new campaign to shine light on the realities of Covid-19.
Nielson spent 34 days at the Jet Park quarantine facility in Auckland, as well as two stints at Middlemore Hospital in Ōtāhuhu after she developed Covid pneumonia, a Covid-19 complication. A scary time for already, at one point, her unborn baby had even stopped moving.
Throughout her time in quarantine, more of her family became infected with the virus. Each new positive case meant their stay at JetPark became longer.
"That was probably the most hard part, because it was 'are we going out? are we going to get freed?' and then nope. We'd start again.
"It was really tough, I was very sick, my husband was very sick and the children were all asymptomatic. They were still their happy bubbly selves, yet we were all bedridden."
As the only hapū māmā at Jet Park at the time, Nielson had to be taken to hospital for treatment that the quarantine facility was not equipped for.
"There were times I was just like, I don't know how I'm going to get through this. You know, I miss my children... I miss my husband. I need them for support while I'm here with my baby."
Nielson named her pēpē Hope, a fitting name in light of the barriers they both overcame.
"She filled us with hope in a very hopeless situation."
Today, Te Puni Kōkiri (the Ministry for Maori Development) in partnership with the Ministry of Health is launching a national Māori campaign to support the vaccine roll-out.
Titled Karawhiua, the campaign channels stories from Māori, like Nielson, who have been impacted by coronavirus, in an effort to encourage more people to get vaccinated.
"We can use our voice to explain what we've gone through, and that it can be avoided," Nielson told 1NEWS
"This happened to me, I am Māori, I am Pasifika and it can happen to any of us."