Charting path to recovery
The general election in October saw a landslide for the Labour Government and this region went from blue to red. Jacinda Ardern’s strong leadership through many challenges earned Labour the greatest support it has seen in almost 50 years.
Despite the bumpy ride this year, our isolation in Tairawhiti appears to have served us well. Gisborne has one of the fastest growing regional economies in New Zealand. Eight months after exiting lockdown, most businesses have moved forward on their path to economic recovery. The campaign to support local has also paid off.
However, some local businesses are still facing ongoing challenges with extended shipping delays, and difficulty sourcing certain material, products and supplies required for their trades and professions.
Trades and construction businesses are under the pump with numerous building and construction projects under way in the region, and plenty more in the pipeline. Unless you have planned your next building or renovation project months in advance, the chances of engaging a local builder, plumber or other tradesperson in Gisborne is near impossible.
My name is Diane Taylor, business director and joint owner of Survey Gisborne Ltd, which specialises in subdividing land, Maori land surveys and other related services. With the region’s current shortage of housing coupled with demand to commence new subdivisions and development projects, our professional land surveyors are in high demand.
I am an executive member of the Gisborne Chamber of Commerce who values the strong relationships our organisation has built with its growing membership (141 businesses and counting). I am looking forward to plenty of engagement and networking events with the wider business community in 2021.
During a recent quick-fire survey that 62 chamber members took part in, many raised concerns about the demand for new housing and finding suitable homes for staff and professionals moving here. The rate of new subdivisions, new builds and consenting is not keeping up with the current demand.
The combination of low interest rates, a shortage of housing and high demand for homes in this region has seen properties sell at values that would normally be considered to be big-city house prices. Gisborne house prices have seen by far the largest increase in value percentage-wise compared to the rest of New Zealand lately.
The new National Policy Statement for Urban Development came into effect in August 2020, along with new rules around the management of stormwater.
During November, Gisborne District Council held a workshop with stakeholders on these subjects and pending changes with the new Spatial Plan as part of a wide-ranging review of the Tairawhiti Resource Management Plan. This whole regulatory review process is expected to take about three years for all changes to be implemented and the new Spatial Plan to become fully operative.
Gisborne features as one of the top five destinations for New Zealanders to visit, in an Air NZ on-board short film clip. Our hospitality businesses will be putting their best foot forward and will need to be open and ready for business.
The Gisborne A&P Show went ahead in October, while many others were cancelled this year over Covid-19 uncertainty. The local tourism and hospitality sectors enjoyed a hugely successful wine and food festival over Labour Weekend, with thousands of out-of-towners visiting the region. With the summer season now here, tens of thousands more visitors are expected.
Gisborne has become a desirable and popular region to live, work and play. As local business owners, we should all be counting our blessings. For now I just hope our visitors can book and find accommodation during this holiday season.
■ Diane Taylor is an executive member of the Gisborne Chamber of Commerce.