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Recovery plan could need to address 1700 job losses

With more than 400 people out of work and up to 1300 more jobs at risk following Covid-19, the region's roadmap to economic recovery will receive professional input from Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen.

Rau Tipu Rau Ora, the Covid recovery plan for Tairawhiti which has been released today, will be discussed at a Trust Tairawhiti-hosted webinar to be held on Thursday, June 11 where Mr Olsen will present insights into the economic impacts of Covid-19 on this region.

As of May 22, Ministry of Social Development data shows there were 2899 people in Gisborne receiving Jobseeker Support benefits, up from 2489 at the start of the year.

Infometrics estimate that up to 1700 jobs will be lost in the region to March 2021, with the unemployment rate expected to increase to 9.3 percent (up from 6.9 percent).

Mr Olsen will be joined for a panel discussion by Trust Tairawhiti chief executive Gavin Murphy, Gisborne Chamber of Commerce president Paul Naske and others.

“I'll be outlining the immediate effects of Covid-19 that are appearing in the Tairawhiti economy so far, and analysing how the local economy may evolve over the next year without any additional support,” Mr Olsen said.

“We'll examine some of the key drivers of local economic activity, and how Covid-19 will change those drivers, as well as a discussion on the work going on locally to respond to, and rebuild from, the current economic downturn.

“It's clear that the economic downturn New Zealand is facing will create substantial job losses which will take a while to recover from, but preliminary analysis from Infometrics points towards Tairawhiti coming through the economic downturn better than other parts of the country. The upcoming webinar will look at some of the key drivers of activity but also explore what can be done to support and bolster the local economy.”

The draft recovery plan has been released today and Trust Tairawhiti's Gavin Murphy said “Rau Tipu Rau Ora” set out how all the regional partners would collaborate to make sure the region bounced back better.

“Trust Tairawhiti will play its part,” Mr Murphy said.

“We have worked hard to remain connected with and support our region's businesses and communities during the lockdown.

“We will continue to support our region's buy local campaign, and fast-track our support for high-employment business opportunities.

“We are also working to help the tourism sector reset and rebound, while continuing to showcase our region's cultural uniqueness and natural environment.”

A regional leaders forum oversaw the development of the plan and forum co-chair Mayor Rehette Stoltz said it represented a combined effort of many organisations and stakeholders.

The forum included chairs of local iwi authorities as well as Trust Tairawhiti, Eastland Group, Eastland Institute of Technology and Hauora Tairawhiti.

“We are pleased to launch Rau Tipu Rau Ora, which lays out our key recovery challenges and opportunities,” Mayor Stoltz said.

“It reaffirms our long-term aspirations as a region socially, economically and environmentally. The plan also builds on the many good things we did, especially through Alert Level 4, to assist our people and communities.”

Rau Tipu Rau Ora identified crucial issues such as housing, employment, health — including the isolation caused by Covid-19 — stimulating the economy, and education and training. The plan also sets out actions to support local industries, businesses and locals who lost work because of the pandemic's impact. Those actions include fast-tracking infrastructure projects already under way, rapid roll-out of “green” training and employment initiatives across local catchments and reserves, and high-value projects from the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan.

INSIGHTS: Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen. Picture supplied