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Auckland Airport’s Mark Frood on family time, mahi, and having a laugh

9 Apr 2020  By Shannon Williams | | @tourismticker

Auckland Airport’s Mark Frood enjoys the view after mountain biking up his hill

The Ticker’s Lowdown on the Lockdown brings you a daily take from a tourism professional exploring new ways of working, sharing what life now looks like and just how much Covid-19 has changed what they do.

Mark Frood, Auckland Airport international market development manager, aeronautical, talks about making the most of having the family under one roof, the importance of the industry standing united, and putting in the mahi to reap the rewards later on.

How’s the lockdown going for you?

I can’t believe how fast the time is going – I’m a routine-driven person, so I try to keep pretty much to how I normally operate with a few adjustments. At midday and at end of the day, I have to get outside and do stuff, otherwise I bounce off the walls.

Mark in his home setup

What does your home set up look like?

Pretty standard: a laptop and a screen. I was booted out of the kitchen where I had room to swing a cat and now I’m stuck in my wee shoebox office. I have everything I need – like access to good music. But sadly, it doesn’t have a door, so it’s hard to keep pests away, such as 17-year-old and 20-year-old daughters.

What kind of interaction are you having with your team?

Plenty. We have a daily Teams meeting mid-morning, then usually several conference calls across the day – so there’s plenty of interaction, I don’t feel removed at all from anyone. Like a fair number of us in the tourism industry, working remotely is common.

What kind of ‘wins’ have you guys had since lockdown?

In the beginning, simply getting through each day with the amount of change that went on was a big win. It’s been great to see the repatriation flights getting travellers safely back to their family and loved ones. Tourism is about people first, so seeing the efforts the Auckland Airport teams put in was definitely a feel-good moment. We will see more repatriation flights get away over the coming weeks. These are real cross-team efforts: Government agencies, accommodation providers, the wider tourism industry, education institutions, transport operators and our visitors all play a major part. It is a huge logistical effort.

Is your team doing anything fun to keep up morale?

Our team is pretty small, and like most teams, we like a good laugh so joking and carrying on is normal. We’ve shared a couple of evening drinks over the laptop – that’s an enjoyable part of the new normal.

Have you and your family got anything special planned for the shutdown?

Staying home. Seriously, it’s great! We live a pretty spread-out lifestyle: I work in Auckland but live in Tauranga. Beks, my eldest, is at university – so being home together is rare and super cool.

Mark says his team likes a good laugh, so joking and carrying on is normal

What message would you have for the Kiwi tourism industry?

You can’t sugarcoat the effect of the lockdown, and we need to acknowledge that. Support each other. Don’t be afraid to get on the blower and ring to talk to a friend about your particular stuff – good, bad, indifferent. Let’s be very united as an industry, it’s a great opportunity to come out the other side as stronger, fitter, more united players in the system. Let our country get to understand who we are and the role we play for the whole community and economy – in the past, tourism has received some unfair criticism from those not involved and uninformed. Time for us to work together to fix that.

What are you missing most about the workplace?
I miss the wider interaction within our office, and I’m looking forward to getting away from a screen for a while, talking face to face to colleagues. But I like things being different, so I’m just managing myself to the other side and then dealing with whatever that may look like.

Have you got any personal goals to get you through the lockdown? Learn a new language? Train for a half marathon?
I’ve been out on my mountain bike. I live halfway up a decent hill, so once the mahi is done it’s a good blowout from bottom to top (yes, I’m still inside my bubble). The treat is an outstanding view and a blast home. I’ve started my boatmaster papers on my way to going commercial. For some reason, I started learning Pashto phrases (it’s spoken in Afghanistan) – a good friend of mine was setting up national parks there. You never know, I may visit sometime. Allah mo mal scha.

If you’d like to contribute to our Lowdown on the Lockdown series, contact the Ticker’s Shannon Williams at


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