April 30th, 2020
Two girls who were missing their cousins during the coronavirus lockdown sailed letters to them on a raft they made out of flax leaves.
Florentina, 5, and Lucette Kitchen, 3, launched the raft from Harbourview Beach in Te Atatū Peninsula in West Auckland, hoping their letters would reach their cousins somehow at Cox's Bay.
The raft made a remarkable 5.7km journey overnight and landed just 25 metres away from the home of their cousins Alexandra, Amelia and Bianca.
Dad, Chris Kitchen, filmed the remarkable journey on camera and uploaded it onto Youtube.
"What are the odds," dad, Chris Kitchen said.
"We had put their cousins' address on it, hoping someone would find it and deliver it to them eventually but it landed so close and they found it. We thought it was going to be long shot."
Florentina and Lucette made the raft on April 11, using flax leaves they collected near their home, and launched it on the afternoon of April 18.
Letters from the girls telling their cousins they missed them and detailing their life in the lockdown, with some artwork, was sealed in a jam jar and attached to the raft.
Their cousins' address was written on "just in case someone else found it".
"It was a remarkable sendoff. It was a bit windy and we modified the raft a little. When we launched, it was going into the direction it needed to go.
"But anything could have happened – the tide, wind. We were confident that someone would find it, but we never expected it to land 25 metres away from their cousins' home. They found it the next day."
It's not the first time Florentina and Lucette have created a raft. During their holidays in the Coromandel, the girls launched small rafts and also sailed with their parents.
"Lockdown has been pretty hard on the girls because they've missed the cousins. And they're quite close, they're always hanging out together.
"The raft project was exciting for everyone and the girls were happy their cousins got to read their letters."
Kitchen says the girls want to sail letters to their grandparents in Campbell's Bay in the North Shore and Cockle Bay in East Auckland next but "that will be a tough one to manoeuvre".