Regenerate Taupō District - Taupō, He Tupu Ururua
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What is Regenerate Taupō District?
A new sector-led group has been brought together to support the Taupō District’s COVID-19 recovery.
The recovery plan will focus on key issues for our district, and aims to ensure a locally-led response to COVID-19, that can be supported at a regional and national level. It will identify opportunities to recover across four key pillars – economic, social, environmental and cultural - how we can create opportunities that will complement government initiatives at a local level.
Whakapūpūtia mai ō mānuka, kia kore ai e whati.
Cluster the branches of the mānuka, so they will not break — Unite with a shared vision, and know which direction you are taking.
Together, we can Regenerate Taupō District.
Why is a recovery plan needed?
Since the beginning of 2020, New Zealand has been feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, those effects became wide-spread, when unprecedented measures were taken by central government to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the lives of New Zealanders.
These measures included the closure of all non-essential businesses for five weeks, the banning of all non-essential domestic travel, and the closure of all New Zealand borders to international visitors.
As a tourist destination, with the wider tourism sector responsible for a third of our district’s employment, we know that COVID-19 will have far-reaching and long-lasting consequences across the Taupō District, with estimates of more than 2400 jobs lost across our community by March 2021 and an economy that will shrink by over 9%.
That economic shock has wide-spread effects on the wellbeing of our communities. To date, support across the district has been provided from both a national and local level. However, we know further measures will be needed to facilitate the recovery of our communities.
Sector-led recovery approach
The sector-led group is made up of local government, business, community and iwi representatives and will help guide the direction of our district and identify opportunities for the Taupo District to not only recover, but flourish, in a post-COVID-19 context.
We are encouraging our community to get involved and share their ideas and opportunities to help inform the plan. If you are interested in being a part of this, or would like to share your ideas, you can fill out this form.
The first steps to developing a recovery plan is to create a ‘state of the district’ report which identifies the effects on our district, at a point in time, and some of the potential opportunities to address these.
State of the district report
The ‘state of the district’ report is intended to stimulate discussion on the opportunities to reduce the impacts of COVID-19 on the Taupō District, and foster resilience across our communities. The ideas in the report are not exhaustive, there will be many good ideas that have yet to be captured.
However, it is important to begin to share with our community our understanding of the potential impacts of a downturn in our economy as a result of COVID-19. While the challenges ahead are significant, there are also opportunities outlined in the report to help soften the impact and build back stronger.
The next steps are to:
- Test the opportunities. Some will be worth pursuing now, while the timing will not be right for others. We also expect that there are further opportunities that will be identified as this process evolves.
- Develop our understanding of the practicalities around those opportunities, refine and place them into different planning horizons.
- Build a coordinated approach to regenerating the district that softens the initial economic impacts and then lays the foundations for future economic growth and community resilience.
We are now developing a series of stakeholder engagement activities to ensure we are hearing from as many people as possible, including wider ideas and voices to feed into the plan. Anyone interested in being involved in this process can fill out this form here.
Work to support community already underway
Of course, work to support our community is already well underway.
- Council committed to a 0% general rates rise for 2020/21 financial year, a fee waiver for commercial and community tenants, and no increases on the majority of its fees and charges. A ‘locals supporting locals’ campaign was also launched.
- Enterprise Great Lake Taupo (EGLT - our economic development agency) increased business support capacity and have worked directly with over 200 businesses to help them with planning, HR, marketing, cashflow management and strategy; as well as providing over $80,000 of fully funded external expertise.
- A series of webinars (plus blogs and other resources) has been developed and made freely available to provide open access to specialist information for any business in the district
- An interactive ‘business readiness tool’ was built by EGLT and made freely available for business owners to work through the necessary requirements to trade at Alert Level 3, and subsequently refreshed for the Alert Level 2 framework
- An ‘outreach’ programme was launched by EGLT with hundreds of Taupō business owners/managers receiving a phone call and advice in terms of business readiness to trade at Alert Level 2
- A data and insights portal was developed by EGLT to house the various research reports and data/dashboards to monitor the impacts of Covid19
- Civil defence and emergency management operations, social service providers and multiple Marae and Iwi entities around the district provided immediate support, including temporary housing for the homeless, kai and sanitation packs, wrap around support services. Iwi have indicated their desire to be included in conversations/planning going forward in the recovery effort
- Destination Great Lake Taupo (DGLT – our tourism agency) has worked closely with the hardest hit businesses in the tourism sector, to support and assist them in reshaping their business
- DGLT has launched a funded intensive marketing support programme directly for the primary tourism sector; and EGLT has prepared a free ‘marketing 101’ business development programme for non-tourism businesses to access
- DGLT has held regular industry webinars and briefings to ensure the industry are connected and engaged in the sector recovery process
- The Hub agencies collaboratively developed and launched a ‘shop local’ campaign (Love this Place).
- Subsidy for those having to isolate with suspected or actual COVID-19 (subsequently combined with wage subsidy)
- Wage subsidy for 12 weeks to support employers adversely affected by COVID-19 to retain employees (awaiting data from MSD in terms of how many Taupō businesses have received this support); with later iteration allowing more businesses to access the support
- Bank loan scheme; with later iterations removing the barriers that had made it difficult for most SME owners to access the funds
- Taxation changes; with immediate effect for provisional tax savings, and longer-term benefits for depreciation and other below the line costs
- Small business finance scheme; managed through the IRD with interest free loans up to $100,000 available shortly
- MSD Work Brokers change of focus to working alongside businesses, rather than jobseekers
- State of the district report completed to focus primarily on economic impacts that will have roll on effects in social, environmental and
MAY – JUNE
- Initial short term recovery plan developed in consultation with stakeholders and the community.
JULY – OCTOBER
- Develop medium and long term actions and opportunities to support recovery.
A message from our Mayor and Regenerate Taupō District Chair – David Trewavas
“The effect on our district from COVID-19 is likely to be long lasting and far-reaching and the need for a collaborative approach to recovery is imperative.
As a tourist destination, we know that we are going to be one of the most affected areas in the country and it is going to be a long road ahead for our economy to bounce back. That has wide-spread effects across our community – not just in terms of our businesses but also in terms of the wellbeing of our people.
We need to ensure that we understand what those effects are and how to address them. The best way to do that is to ensure a local, sector-led response that has the ability and insight to identify opportunities for our district, that can then be supported at a regional and national level.
In essence, it’s about taking a collaborative approach and making decisions that are united and clearly focused on how we will not only recover, but ideally flourish, in a post-COVID context.”
This work is about providing a clear direction for restoring and reimagining the Taupō District. Of course, work is already underway in this space and it is also heartening to see many groups and communities across the district initiating proactive programmes and activities to help the local community recover. We need to harness this positivity.
We know there are people hurting from this and it is up to us as a community to take the lead in developing what our new normal will be.”