New Zealand golfing and tourism businesses connected to two American billionaires got more than $1m taxpayer money to help pay staff during the lockdowns.
Tara Iti Golf Club, ranked the world's second-best outside the United States after Northern Ireland's Royal County Down, got $708,441 for 104 staff.
American billionaire and New Zealand resident Ric Kayne has interests in that operation north of Auckland.
Kayne is a director along with Queenstown's John Darby and Ohio's Larry Sheakley, Companies Office records show. Shareholders include prominent Kiwi businessman Chris Liddell - who works with United States President Donald Trump - and Liddell's wife, Renee Harbers.
Waiaua Bay Farm, connected to Northland's Kauri Cliffs golf course and lodge, got $462,000 for 67 employees. American billionaire Julian Roberts owns that business.
His Matakauri Lodge on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown got $193,000 for 28 staff.
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Questions about the support were put to Kayne's New Zealand spokesman and Robertson Lodges this morning.
Kayne's spokesman said Tara Iti was a member-owned course and not owned by him.
"The wage subsidy was applied for to keep all staff people employed while Covid restrictions meant no play or work was possible at the golf course, just like every other golf club in New Zealand. If it turns out that revenue is not impacted as badly as thought, that can be repaid."
As a club which caters to an international clientele, the impact of the lockdown had been quite significant and would continue to be for some time to come, he said.
"Around 70 per cent of the members live overseas. We rely on international tourism and revenues will be significantly impacted for a long period. We are very grateful that the wage subsidy has helped us to keep our staff employed and paid through this period. We will be doing everything to try to keep staff employed as we continue to deal with the severe impact."
The Government's Covid-19 wage subsidy employer scheme is to help employers and sole traders who face laying off staff or reducing hours. The scheme covers 12 weeks.
Robertson's business announced it had shut its lodges during the lockdown.
"Following Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's announcement that New Zealand would begin a Level 4, four-week lock-down in the fight against Covid-19 in late March, we have temporarily paused operations at Kauri Cliffs, Cape Kidnappers and Matakauri," Robertson Lodges announced.
That had not been an easy decision, "though we fully support our Government's efforts in slowing the impact of Covid-19. It is a decision that has been made with the safety of our guests and team members at the fore, and with a love of New Zealand at its heart."
From March 25, Kauri Cliffs, Cape Kidnappers and Matakauri Lodge had all shut.
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers would reopen in August and Kauri Cliffs and Matakauri Lodge would be shut till October 1, the business said.
"These are tentative re-open dates that we will continually review with the best advice from the New Zealand Government," the business said.
Robertson Lodges chief executive Jay Robertson thanked guests and staff.
"Our family remains committed to our three properties in New Zealand, to our wonderful staff who work tirelessly to deliver a world-class service, and to our guests who have always looked to Robertson Lodges as a safe haven.
"In these unprecedented times, we must work together to look after each other, and this is why we have taken these necessary steps to temporarily pause operations. We are working with our staff to ensure they are supported as we undertake these measures and look forward to welcoming guests back to our lodges in the months and years to come." .
Queenstown's Millbrook Resort and Nomad Safaris were the latest tourist operators to announce redundancies in Queenstown. Millbrook, which employs 290, confirmed this week it was consulting workers on job cuts, but would not say how many.
Nomads owner David Gatward-Ferguson said he had to axe 43 jobs, citing uncertainty over the timescale or conditions for moving to a transtasman arrangement and alert level 1.