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New Appreciation Of Life After Roughing

Koji Teranishi planned to make a flying visit to New Zealand after a spur-of-the moment decision to watch the Corona Piha Pro surfing competition.

But it was a Corona of a different kind that ended up making the biggest impact on this Japanese chef from Tokyo and he now has a whole new appreciation of the simple things in life. It looks like his two-week holiday will be extended until June at the very best.

Koji was on a surfing holiday in Australia when he heard a surfer he had known a few years back would be competing at the Piha Pro, so decided to book a flight.

COVID-19 had different ideas and the mid-March competition was postponed. Forty-four-year-old Koji still flew out and headed, with board in hand, to Raglan, a break he had long wanted to surf. However, the wind was changing and a couple of pro surfers he met there said he should head to the other side . . . and more specifically, to Gisborne. So he did.

Immersed in the waves, he wasn’t following a lot of news and by his own admission, didn’t really understand the lockdown until the day before. “All of a sudden it was like I had to find a place that night and stay there for four weeks.”

He went to a hostel but it was already full. He went to the Police station but it was closed so he figured he could just sleep in his rental car for the duration. He lasted three weeks. He would use the cold shower at the beach and head to McDonald’s carpark for wifi. He shopped at night at the supermarket for food that didn’t need cooking or refrigeration.

“During the lockdown I was running at the beach and picking up any garbage I saw. I cleaned the toilets I used and my emotions changed. Maybe it was karma.”

Gisborne District Council’s Emergency Coordination Centre’s welfare team stepped in to help and he is now happily ensconced in a caravan on the property of Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s Trent Fearnley.

He has been working as FENZ liaison with the ECC and as such attends – by Zoom – two meetings a day. “I kept hearing that they couldn’t find anywhere for him to stay,” Trent said. And that bothered him. He and wife Jeanine are parents to teens and are also temporary caregivers for Oranga Tamariki.

While he usually works in Wellington as the FENZ national advisor for fire risk management, he had come home before COVID-19 because Jeanine was in Hawaii for the World Golden Oldies Netball Tournament. She isolated in the caravan and just days later Trent heard about Koji.

Koji couldn’t be more grateful. “I never really thought about what it meant to have a hot shower and a bathroom to use when you wanted to,” he said. “I am just so thankful. My life is so much better.”

© Scoop Media

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