Life in Lockdown

Home became a workplace for thousands of PSA members during Level 4 lockdown.

Our online member survey showed almost two-thirds of the 95% of our members who kept working during lockdown, did so from their own homes.

But alongside work, many of you were also juggling the challenges of 24/7 parenting or other caring responsibilities.


“It was really difficult because being at home with kids is a full time job. Teaching them is a full-time job,” says PSA member and mother of two Anna Milne-Tavendale.

Anna and girls 2 Copy5

For the historian at Te Arawhiti, the Office of Māori Crown Relations, something had to give - and that was traditional schooling.

Anna Milne-Tavendale with Rome and Summer

“Making sure the girls felt happy and safe was the priority. I don’t think they lost anything out of doing that.”

Anna says she was fortunate to have supportive management.

“They responded well to an unprecedented situation. There was no undue pressure on me to try to work the whole time. I was able to put me and my children first.”

She believes the better work life balance is beneficial for her and her daughters. Anna previously had a flexible arrangement working one day a week from home and is keen to work from home more often in the future.


Working from home posed fewer complications for Taupō District Council worker and PSA member Heather Holt.

The mother of adult children worked at home during the day, while her husband, a nightshift worker slept.

Heather’s job includes managing housing units for elderly residents. During the lockdown she kept in regular contact with them. “I would call them to see if they needed support.”

Working from home took “a bit of getting used to” for Heather, as she is used to bouncing off her co-workers.  But her team kept in touch with daily video meetings.

“I was happy sitting at my dining table in the sun, working off my laptop.”

Heather says being able to work from home can be great when you need to focus, and her workplace is supportive of flexible work arrangements.


In the beginning working from home felt “absolutely crazy” for Canterbury Māori Health promoter Aaron Hapuku.

At home with his partner, two daughters and a new born, it took a few weeks to settle into new routines.


Aaron facebook

Aaron Hapuku with Kaahu and Mere

 “Our two older tamariki would run in and out of the room while I was on phone calls and zoom meetings.”

During lockdown Aaron was redeployed to help with daily monitoring calls of people in isolation and quarantine.

“While I couldn’t engage kanohi ki te kanohi, it was nice to still be talking to people and helping them.”

Aaron was surprised by how productive he could be at home, and valued the time he saved by not having a two-hour daily commute. He says effective team leaders and email banter helped his team to keep in touch.

Aaron would like to continue working from home one day a week. He says the lockdown brought his family closer together.

“There are some routines such as family walks and shared kai that we will hold on to moving forward.”


While our survey showed the stresses of juggling work, parenting, and other responsibilities during lockdown were hugely challenging for some, your responses were overwhelmingly positive.

Seven out of 10 of those who worked from home were satisfied or very satisfied with their ability to focus for long periods of time, and think creatively and innovatively. 

CMYK vectorstock 14011341Just under 9 out of 10 were satisfied or very satisfied with their ability to contact colleagues when necessary.

Only 27% believed working from home led to reduced cooperation between colleagues, or made it harder to be motivated.

PSA national secretary Kerry Davies says while working from home in a pandemic is a little different, hopefully more people now realise it is feasible and can make a huge difference for workers.

“The lockdown gave many of us a chance to reflect on what we need. We want the choice to work from home sometimes so we can get work done, reduce carbon emissions, support local communities and make juggling work and family responsibilities just a bit easier.”


While the Prime Minister advised public service workers to return to workplaces when we reached Level 1, she also acknowledged the separate process underway to refresh flexible work policies.

All public service agencies are aiming to offer flexible work by default by the end of the year. It is intended to be available for all roles unless there is a good “business” reason for it not to be.

“The PSA led the charge on flexible work by default. By making it a choice for all, men and women, it will become the new normal,” says Kerry.

“It won’t be a hindrance to your pay or career progression as it has in the past, which will help close the gender pay gap.”

Flexible work by default is one of the goals of the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan agreed by Government, public service chief executives and the PSA.

Watch out for guidance at


Also in this issue:

The Story behind the Fight for PPE

It was “humbling” for PSA delegate Jacob Crown to see how everyone stood together to campaign for PPE for care and support workers during the Covid Crisis.

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Stepping Up in a Crisis

Thousands of PSA members showed the value of what they do as they responded to a global pandemic by delivering essential services during the lockdown.

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From exploitation to empowerment

Within months of arriving in New Zealand, Mandeep Bela was being exploited by his employer.

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The New Normal

The Covid-19 pandemic will change our future in ways we cannot yet know.

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A big idea for unprecedented times

The Covid crisis has shown us that when New Zealanders pull together we can achieve amazing things.

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Our candidates for PSA President

A new PSA president will be elected by attendees at the PSA Congress in Wellington on November 16-18. Here are the candidates:

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Challenging Times for Local Government

Thousands of PSA members work for local authorities around New Zealand.

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Building Better Together

As we emerge from the COVID crisis, Working Life asks Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff how we should rebuild for a brighter future

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From Crisis to Resilience

The challenges the world faces to rebuild from the Covid crisis have been laid bare by International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

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Mana Wahine goes to Parliament

Te Runanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina members spread the word about their Mana Wahine treaty claim when they met with some of Labour’s Māori Caucus at Parliament in March.

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Doing the Mahi

Delegates at the first hui of the Inland Revenue Rūnanga came away inspired to “do the mahi”.

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Hoea te Local Government Waka

A new Local Government Rūnanga held its first hui in March.

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Leading the Way

If a meat inspector from Invercargill can become a PSA President then anybody can.

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On The Job

Rose Lee is not your stereotypical librarian.

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Climate Talk

As we grapple with the upheaval caused by Covid-19, I see people asking whether now is the right time to talk about climate change.

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President's Message

Mā ngā huruhuru, ka rere te manu
It is the feathers that enable the bird to fly

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News in Brief

In our briefs section we reveal what you did in the lockdown, preview the Women's Network Conference, and much more...

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PPE for PSA Photos

PSA care and support workers took part in a Global Day of Action to demand personal protective equipment, pay and respect in April.

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Pets of the PSA

PSA members showed some love for their pets during lockdown - proudly sending in photos of their new office buddies to our PSA Facebook page.

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Te Reo o te Tari

In this issue we bring you some handy kupu for your workspace - whether you're working in the office or at home.

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