A nationwide treasure hunt: why Easter eggs are appearing in New Zealand windows

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed that both the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are 'essential workers'

Jacinda Ardern speaks during her post-Cabinet media update at Parliament on April 6, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. While she's implemented a lockdown, she's also called for a nationwide Easter egg hunt. Getty and istockphoto
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Easter in New Zealand will this year consist of a nationwide egg hunt with a twist, as the country nears the end of its second week in lockdown.

The novel idea was announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has suggested Kiwi children confined to their homes should get involved in a countrywide Easter egg hunt, but without leaving their abodes.

The country's five million residents have been in lockdown for almost two weeks, and are only allowed outside to exercise or for essential trips to get supplies.

But Ardern had a special message for the country's children worried about the disruption to their Easter holiday this year.

During a press conference on Monday, she deemed both the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy vital workers for the New Zealand economy, thus granting them special status to break their quarantine "bubble" and visit Kiwi homes.

However, she also cautioned the public that this did not necessarily mean the Easter Bunny would this year be frequenting as many homes as it normally did.

"You'll be pleased to know, that we do consider both the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny to be essential workers," she said.

"As you can imagine at this time, they're going to potentially be quite busy at home with their family as well and their own bunnies.

"I say to the children of NZ that if the Easter Bunny doesn't make it to your household, we have to understand that it's a bit difficult at the moment for the bunny to get everywhere.

"But I have a bit of an idea."

Ardern then suggested that in lieu of being visited by the bunny, New Zealand children could create their own neighbourhood-wide Easter egg hunt this year. This would involve drawing a picture of an easter egg on a piece of paper and placing it in their front window, in a similar vein to the Ardern-endorsed teddy bear hunt of last week.

The nationwide teddy bear hunt was launched to help keep the country's children occupied, even if just for a while, during its coronavirus lockdown. Tens of thousands of homes took part, as did the prime minister.

Inspired by the popular children's book We're Going on a Bear Hunt, the real-life hunt asked children to place teddy bears in their street-facing windows, allowing little ones nearby to "hunt" for bears in their neighbourhoods. Ardern confirmed that she too had taken part, placing a bear in the front window of Premier House in Wellington, where she is in lockdown with her fiance, Clarke Gayford, and toddler, Neve.

The Easter egg hunt would be identical to that, but with colourful, hand-drawn Easter eggs.

After the press conference, in an Instagram post, Ardern fleshed out the idea – complete with a full stencil illustration, to be printed out and coloured in by eager children.

She even encouraged children to email their finished products to her parliamentary email, or post them on social media with #NZEggHunt, so she could share them herself.

"I’m wondering if you’ll help me create an Easter egg hunt for all the children in your neighbourhood?" Ardern wrote.

"You can draw your own Easter egg, or you can colour in the one that some of my clever friends helped to make. All you have to do is colour it in or decorate it, and pop it in your window for other kids to find. I'd also love to see your designs."

And less than a few hours later, some New Zealand children had already started: