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Rebuilding A Resilient Tairāwhiti

He anga whakamua – as the nation prepares to move down to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, planning to rebuild our resilient region is well underway through the Tairāwhiti Regional Recovery Plan.

Tairāwhiti Rau Tipu Rau Ora , the Regional Recovery Governance Group consisting of Council’s Mayor, Iwi Chairs, Hauora Tairāwhiti Chair, Trust Tairāwhiti Chair and the Chair of the Eastland Group met today to discuss the issues, challenges and opportunities ahead for our communities.

Co Chair Mayor Rehette Stoltz believes we’re in a steady position to build Tairāwhiti back up again “Our regional economy here in Te Tairāwhiti has some good bones to help us bounce back” she said.

Co Chair Selwyn Parata says he is pleased that Tairāwhiti Rau Tipu, Rau Ora is building on existing governance and operational infrastructure, such as the TEAP and Manaaki Tairāwhiti rather that building something new. “This would have been a distraction when we need to apply our energy and focus to getting things done”. He is also keen on a Tairāwhiti-led response and recovery plan rather than one that is led out of Wellington. Tairāwhiti communities have already demonstrated their resilience through the lockdown and this needs to continue into the recovery and beyond,” says Mr Parata.

The Tairāwhiti Economic Action Plan (TEAP) was refreshed at the end of 2019 and Council signed off on the Tairāwhiti 2050 Spatial Plan earlier this year.

Trust Tairāwhiti Chief Executive Gavin Murphy sees the benefits of bolstering support for local enterprise. “We are set up to support our businesses and community groups and we recognise we need a huge emphasis on communicating with and supporting those who are doing it tough.”

Our regional social sector forum, Manaaki Tairāwhiti, will bring our agencies and providers together to help local whānau through the coming months says Manaaki co-chair Herewini Te Koha, “We’ll need to be smart, practical and collaborative, and I’m sure we will.”

“Council through its Civil Defence responsibilities has traditionally lead the recovery planning but COVID-19 is something none of us have ever experienced before. This requires a shift from our traditional recovery model to one where we put our respective hats to the side while we work in true partnership for our region” says Council’s Chief Executive Nedine Thatcher Swann.

“The Tairāwhiti Regional Recovery Plan will assess and create actions to address the immediate, short and long term needs of our communities, iwi and businesses”.

In addition to the planning work, there are already a lot of initiatives supporting businesses and our community.

Trust Tairāwhiti have surveyed and spoken with over 350 businesses and community groups since Level 4 commenced. Businesses identify a reduction in customers, short term cash flow and staff wellbeing as the biggest areas of concern and would like support with financial planning, business continuity and strategy. Community groups identified financial support, along with whānau and social support, as the biggest requirements.

The Trust is supporting businesses with a series of Regional Business Partners virtual sessions covering HR, cashflow, leadership during crisis, and getting employees back to work. Sessions over the next week will include restructuring and managing the move to Alert Level 3. The “Let’s Shop Tairāwhiti!” Facebook page has received a lot of interest and over 120 businesses have already registered.

Community organisations continue to do amazing work and we have supported initiatives, such as Te Aroha Kanarahi Trust for Go-to-Bags for the region’s most vulnerable, Gizzy Kai Rescue for food distribution and Tauawhi Men’s Centre, to support their phone support service.

“Community feedback gave us really good information and the Trust felt we were in a position to support these projects immediately, while sharing our knowledge and resources with other local leaders to consider in shaping the Tairāwhiti Regional Recovery Plan” said Murphy.

In addition to the planning work, local businesses are already tapping into the suite of government recovery initiatives that have been rolled out, including the wage subsidy, while local social and health sector groups have demonstrated an agility, that is critical in times of rapid change and uncertainty.

Ms Thatcher Swann believes an the integrated approach will ensure our communities realise the Tairāwhiti Regional Recovery Plan goals.

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