For Rotorua shop owner Sabine Ford, the last two months have been a daily battle for survival.

"I think we started feeling it in January with just a lack of tourists, a general lack of tourists - lots of Asian tourists that we didn't see," said Ford.

"Just locals that are generally more 'spendy' because they work, they weren't quite out there."

Ford's shop, Dangerous Chocolates, is preparing for lockdown, and like the whole country, is facing an uncertain future.


"We have been very generous to all our customers who have come to buy chocolate for Easter. Whatever I can sell today will be sold. Whatever is left over will go to the hospital," Ford said.

"I have no wage but I paid my local suppliers, I paid electricity, I paid my rent and I'll look at next month and I'll see what next month brings.

"[I'm] in the process of cleaning my kitchen, cleaning my fridges, turning the lights off to not have too much of an electricity bill at the end of the month.

"Then I will go home, and tomorrow I will sleep. And tonight I will have a cry and that's it."

Sabine isn't alone, with hundreds of tourism and hospitality businesses closing their doors.

Rotorua resident and Labour party candidate for Rotorua, Claire Mahon wanted to help so she set up a Facebook page offering support to businesses through these unprecedented times.

"The idea is that as we begin to see the effects on the economy, we know that so many of our businesses are suffering and that a lot of them might not make it through the end of this," said Mahon.

"So what we need to do is find creative and innovate ways to support each other. So for our local community here in Rotorua, we have such a generous community, it's about banding together and saying 'let's eat local, shop local, etc.'


"We've had businesses offer gift vouchers, change what they do," she said. "The other thing I've seen from the businesses that have had to close their doors, I've seen a great outpouring of support from local people saying 'we will be back, we will see you again and keep shopping, as soon as you're open we'll be the first ones ordering the coffee, sitting in the restaurant.' And that's just fantastic."

Meanwhile Ford is trying to stay positive.

"In nine weeks I can come here, I can disinfect this place and I can start again. So I'm going to go home, and as the 'gentleman' from the United States said, I'm going to stay the f*** at home."

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