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Tairāwhiti leaders plan for Coronavirus impact

Tairāwhiti leaders met on Monday to discuss impacts the Coronavirus outbreak is having on local industry, particularly the export sector - and to plan how they can support those affected.

Attendees included representatives from Gisborne District Council, Eastland Wood Council, Eastland Port and Eastland Group Limited, the Prime Wood Cluster, Ministry for Social Development, Te Puni Kōkiri, Provincial Development Unit, Trust Tairāwhiti Business and Tourism teams, and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The implications for the forestry sector were highlighted by Andrew Gaddum, chief operating officer of local port operator Eastland Group.

“We understand several companies in the region will soon temporarily stop all log exports. Several others are planning to keep sending product through Eastland Port, to markets including Korea. There may also be some product going to China, although at significantly reduced volumes. This will depend on the restrictions being placed on movement between China and New Zealand, which are being strictly adhered to. Eastland Port remains open, and we continue to work closely with our customers.”

Other exporters from the fisheries and horticulture industries will likely be impacted with the Chinese borders being effectively closed for at least the next week.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz says the well-being of affected Tairāwhiti residents is the key priority.

“This is a very uncertain time and we want to ensure our residents are supported. Several organisations are working together to make sure the right support is in place.”

Gavin Murphy, CEO of Trust Tairāwhiti, the regional development trust, said his business team was already working with affected businesses from a range of export sectors.

Meeting attendees agreed to gather information on those affected in the forestry industry to ensure the right support will be put in place. This initiative is being led by the Eastland Wood Council.

The group will also collate broader employer and employee information, along with links to central government plans regarding support to affected sectors.

ENDS

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