people stacking hands together park


Community solidarity will prevent more damage as uncertainty continues.

March 23 2021 by Nik Kiddle

Community solidarity will prevent more damage as uncertainty continues.

It’s now more than a year since the border closed and still there is great uncertainty around the path forward. Our district continues to shoulder
one of the heaviest burdens to uphold the government’s health policies, and it comes at a great cost to us. We have lost thousands of jobs and sit on a knife edge that could see scores of family owned businesses fail.

Together with other lower South Island towns, we have achieved some recognition of the disproportionate impacts felt here. These include the deep social consequences of leaving many of us to fend for ourselves.

“Kindness” in the government’s approach to Covid has evaporated. The Minister of Tourism and Small Business beams a message that more businesses must fail. A minority of Kiwis took glee in running us down and applauding the loss of livelihoods here.

Many of us have stood up to defend this town. But despite his calls for partnership with tourism business, Minister Nash refused both the Mayor and the local community’s requests for community-level engagement last week. Instead the Minister sheltered in an invitation only seminar that Otago University refused to open to tourism SMEs actively campaigning for our district.

ACT’s David Seymour and James McDowall have met with us and pledged to assist. Local MP Joseph Mooney has engaged and National’s leadership in Wellington is at last drawing attention to the unsustainability of the current trajectory. We need political weight in Wellington to move this government on from hand wringing and vague
hints of a plan to actually deliver a tangible targeted support package to help us get to the reopening of the border to green zone countries, not just Australia.

Our best course of action remains community solidarity, pulling in the same direction to prevent more damage to this town. Thankfully we have a broad spectrum of people willing to stand up. It is vital to support them to achieve the results we are seeking.

Together we can succeed.


- Nik Kiddle