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‘We need your help'

Government urged to give support as impacts of coronavirus outbreak continue to be felt in this region.

Tairawhiti leaders met with MP Kiri Allan on Thursday and have urged the Government to give support as the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak continue to be felt in this region.

The call was made at a meeting of the Local Governance Group set up to address the impact of the virus and other factors on the forestry industry here.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz said the implications for the forestry industry were at a point where resilience was being tested, with more people in jeopardy of losing their income and businesses.

“We have come together as a region to respond to this the best we can but we are now looking to the Government for help.

“A paper to Cabinet is expected on Monday and we hope, following that, there will be an announcement and a regional relief package.”

Local agencies have been working together to collate information for the Government on the number of people and businesses effected.

“The group has also looked at training packages or alternative employment options for redundant employees and the longer-term impacts.

Along with Labour list MP Kiri Allan, representatives from Labour (Ikaroa Rawhiti) MP Meka Whaitiri and National's East Coast MP Anne Tolley's offices attended the meeting.

The group includes Gisborne District Council, Eastland Port, Eastland Group, Eastland Wood Council, Ministry for Social Development, Te Puni Kokiri, Trust Tairawhiti and Ministry for Primary Industries.

Mayor Stoltz said it was crucial those in need reached out for support.

“We continue to encourage our community to check on their whanau, friends and neighbours and direct people to support services.

“The wellbeing of our people remains our primary concern,” she said.

A list of support services available can be found on Gisborne District Council's website.

Logs continue to move through Eastland Port at this stage.

The logger Berge Snaefell sailed yesterday and her place alongside the wharf was taken by the logger African Swan.

She will be here until Monday.

On Tuesday, the freighter Pacific Magnolia returns for the fourth squash shipment of the season.

That same day, the logger Baltic Fox comes into port.

Eastland Wood Council chief executive Kim Holland said they continued to work with all parties to help ensure support was provided to small business owners, their workers and their whanau, as the situation looks set to continue.

“We look forward to any support and assistance the Government can provide as we all know, we just need to get through this and cannot do it alone.

“We would hope that there are some training and capability building initiatives or funding sources to enable us to make use of the down time to increase skills, and training, and to help keep key people in the industry.”

Ms Holland said everything that could collectively be done has been done over the past three weeks.

“Now we require higher level support.

“What is key is ensuring that we look after our contractors and their workers because we will need them and their skills and experience when operations get back up and running.

“Member companies have been doing everything they can to keep operations moving but there will be further updates next week on log prices and markets, with a longer-term forecast impacting.”