A major regional media campaign encouraging people to support local businesses has been launched by NZME as the country moves through alert level 3 and beyond.
The media company's regional titles -- The Northern Advocate, Bay of Plenty Times, Rotorua Daily Post, Whanganui Chronicle and Hawke's Bay Today -- kicked off the GO LOCAL! campaign this week.
GO LOCAL! is a call to action for people and businesses to support local businesses in their community as they kick-start their operations and, in some cases, even fight for survival during the Covid-19 crisis.
The campaign is part of NZME's national GO NZ! campaign which over the past six weeks through its many brands and platforms has supported New Zealand businesses, communities and people during this time of need.
The five regional newspapers and their websites launched GO LOCAL! with high-impact front pages and stories on Wednesday, urging people to get behind the campaign. Community newspapers in those regions are also part of the campaign.
GO LOCAL! will use the power of NZME's regional and community newspapers, websites, radio stations and social media platforms to shine a light on businesses demonstrating innovative ways of connecting with customers.
It is designed to work in any city or town and supports other hyper-local buy-local campaigns that have started throughout the country.
GO LOCAL! also offers a platform and innovative commercial solutions for businesses to advertise their own goods or services as they get their messages out to potential customers.
The regional media editors behind the campaign - Rachel Ward of the Northern Advocate, Scott Inglis of the Bay of Plenty Times and Rotorua Daily Post, Kim Gillespie of the Whanganui Chronicle and Hawke's Bay Today's Craig Cooper - said the campaign was an excellent way of connecting businesses with the community.
Getting local businesses up and running would have many benefits for their local towns, cities and regions, they said.
Regional mayors, other leaders and businesses are backing the campaign.
In Whangārei, Mayor Sheryl Mai told the Northern Advocate it was "critical" to support local businesses.
When shopping online residents in the region should consider buying locally or New Zealand made, instead of spending with overseas companies.
"If residents have an option to buy local that's what you should use. Just think really carefully about how we use our money.
"We have to change our habits. The reality is there's going to be a massive dive in our economy.
For Whangārei's Piggery Secondhand Book Shop it was "uncharted territory" as it opened for business with new alert level 3 rules.
Owner Chloe Clennell and shop assistant Samantha le Grice will be at the Walton St shop on separate days to prepare online and phone orders for customers to collect.
They will also offer a delivery service once a week throughout the city, or books can be couriered for an extra cost.
"We've always had a website and Facebook page, but this is uncharted territory, it's not something we've attempted before.
Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell told the Bay of Plenty Times that small businesses needed the community's support more than ever and he encouraged people to support local firms as much as possible as part of the city's Buy Local campaign.
"This will help get companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, back on their feet, preserving jobs and benefiting our local economy."
Powell described small businesses as the "economic backbone" of New Zealand's economy, and the place where our economic recovery will come from.
Alimento cafe owner Craig Soeberg said the Tauranga cafe was introducing an evening delivery system in level 3 and was now open until 8pm, which was something very new to the business.
"We are trying to manage in a different market. We haven't really done this before. Normally we shut at 4pm."
Soeberg said it was nice to see his regular customers back after opening for the first time since lockdown.
"Being in hospitality we have a rapport with our regulars and it is nice to be able to see them again."
He said it was important for people to be spending locally.
Steve Chadwick, Rotorua's mayor, said in the Rotorua Daily Post that she "absolutely" supported the campaign and reinforced that businesses needed to collaborate as the city recovers from Covid-19.
"It gives confidence to the community that we care about them. We are thinking about them at this unprecedented time.
"We will know we are really succeeding when it continues into the future, not just stimulating the economy now but keeping it going well into the future."
When Abracadabra Cafe and Bar in Rotorua opened under level 3, owner Justin Genest admitted to feeling emotional seeing his customers again for the first time since lockdown.
"Everybody who came to pick up their order I knew either by name or by face," he said.
"It was a really emotional day. It really brought tears to my eyes to see the support from the local people. It's amazing."
In Whanganui, many businesses were open for trade again for the first time in nearly five weeks.
Owners are finding innovative ways to operate in a contactless environment.
"This first day has been pretty steady, and definitely busier than the last few weeks," said Sandra Brunner, owner of Health 2000 on Victoria Ave.
"My partner has filled the doorway with a drawer and a glass pane, so any products can be put in the draw at our side and pushed through to the customer.
"We can put the eftpos machine on one side of the glass and a customer can hold their card up on the other side.
"It's working really well so far."
Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said it was great to see how flexible and adaptable many of the city's businesses were as they adjusted to the "new normal".
Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise said in an opinion column published in Hawke's Bay Today: ''We really are all in this together. Purchasing and sourcing Hawke's Bay-produced goods and services, and recommending local businesses to your friends and family, will help shape our recovery and see us bounce back as quickly as possible.''
In Hawke's Bay, businesses have banded together to form Hawke's Bay At Home, which features more than 80 restaurants, cafes, bars, brewers and wineries offering food and drink options via contactless delivery or pick-up.
Chef and owner of Bistronomy James Beck wanted a way to put his takeaway menu in front of as many people as possible. Knowing others would want to do the same, he rallied the industry together to create the platform.
Beck says there is a range of options from pizza and kebabs to restaurants such as Central Fire Station Bistro and Bistronomy.
Close to 1000 hours have gone into the project, with everyone working for free, Beck said.
Got a great story idea? How to get in touch with us.
What makes a great GO LOCAL! story? Here are some examples:
• Businesses changing the way they operate during level 3 and beyond
• Businesses and organisations supporting other businesses
• Hyper-local buy-local initiatives
• Commentary and business tips from sector leaders