Summer festivals in Hawke's Bay and Gisborne are a huge drawcard for the wider East Coast region.
Whether it's the Rhythm & Vines festival, a Six60 concert, or even the Horse of the Year, they are part of the cultural fabric of a classic Kiwi summer.
They create memories that can last a lifetime. They pour millions of dollars into our economies and are a shot in the arm for our local businesses and workers. But there's another shot in the arm we need before we can get there.
The hard truth is, our region is behind the national average for vaccinations. But we are oh so tantalisingly close to the 90 per cent figure for first doses.
Please – this Saturday, help a mate, help a family member, help a work colleague, help a neighbour. Have a quiet conversation, listen to them, help get them over the line if they are unsure.
The icing on the cake of being protected against Covid-19 is a shot at heaps of prizes on offer this Saturday and Sunday at pop up vaccination centres all over Hawke's Bay. There are drive-ins or some walk-ins.
And just like our push for the 90 per cent vaccination target, this weekend's prizes are all about the numbers. There are draws for an iPhone 13. There are draws for tickets to Six60. There are draws for $100 Prezzy giftcards, and $20 gift vouchers.
The Hawke's Bay DHB is calling it the Second Shot Weekend. We smashed all sorts of records on the first Super Saturday, on October 16. Most notably, more than 6500 people got their first dose that day, the highest per head of eligible population for any DHB.
We can do this, people. As at late this week, Hawke's Bay DHB was at 87 per cent first dose, and Tairawhiti DHB was 81 per cent. What will it take, in raw numbers, to lift those figures over 90 per cent? For Hawke's Bay, it requires just 4700 people to get their first shot. For Tairawhiti, it requires just 3600 to get their first shot. These numbers are do-able.
The DHBs have been great with their incentives and prizes to encourage vaccinations. This week the Government also stepped up with another incentive. And that is a way to offer greater certainty for the classic summer festivals we host in our region.
Events typically only generate revenue on the day or weekend they take place, yet incur significant costs in advance. A quick shift in public health measures could see an event cancelled with no opportunity to recoup costs or generate revenue.
Under the new scheme, we will meet 90 per cent of upfront costs that can't be recovered, for paid, ticketed events with audiences of more than 5000 vaccinated people, if organisers are forced to cancel or postpone due to Covid-19 public health measures.
Organisers of these festivals are great entrepreneurs who give back to our communities. They take a lot of risk to deliver fantastic experiences. Covid-19 has made their job even harder and these grants recognise they need our support if summer events are to go ahead.
Big summer events are crucial for our economic and social wellbeing. We are in a unique period of transition from the Alert Level system to the new Protection Framework which relies on 90 per cent vaccination rates. An immediate solution is needed this summer. We all have the power to make a difference, we are all individual influencers.
We are so close to the target – please give it your best shot.
• Stuart Nash is Napier MP.
For information on the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine and other things you need to know, listen to our podcast Science Digest with Michelle Dickinson: