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COVID-19 Welfare Response Team In Running For Top Prize

As the effects of COVID-19 rapidly emerged across the Queenstown Lakes District, the multi-sector Queenstown Lakes District COVID-19 Welfare Response Team was quickly formed to help those in need.

Now, their impressive response to the crisis has resulted in the group being named a semi-finalist in the community category of the 2021 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards.

The award recognises groups that have made an outstanding difference to their community. The Welfare Response Team was praised for the “staggering level of assistance” it provided to residents who were out of work, unable to pay for groceries and rent, and ineligible for government support.

“In a region threatened by floods, earthquakes, and now a pandemic, this remarkable community effort has shown how agile, collaborative and resilient the Queenstown Lakes District can be,” the award entry read. The group represents a unique combination of community groups, Queenstown Lakes District Council staff, Civil Defence, churches, iwi, businesses, and hundreds of volunteers from the district’s communities.

The annual Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards are in their 12th year. The six award categories celebrate Kiwis from all walks of life who use their passion to make Aotearoa a better place. Three finalists will be announced on 1 March, with winners named on 31 March.

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult said the recognition was richly deserved.

“The COVID-19 Welfare Response Team made a massive difference at a time when it was needed the most,” he said.

“Their impact on people desperately in need – especially migrant workers, who had little or no means of other support – was immeasurable. Hundreds of individuals went above and beyond the call, 24/7, for months during the crisis. I’m incredibly proud of what they achieved and personally I am backing them to take out the richly-deserved top prize.”

More information about the Welfare Response Team, and the other semi-finalists, can be found here: https://nzawards.org.nz/news/2021-community-semi-finalists/

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