Northland business owners are delighted by the public's response to a unique not-for-profit website set up to help bolster them through tough Covid-19 trading restrictions.

There are now 43 Northland businesses registered on the SOS Business website, which was set up by Auckland senior government official David Downs last month to help struggling businesses through the lockdown and beyond.

Downs said they've collectively made more than $22,000 in voucher sales with the "top performer" making more than $2000.

The Cakery at Tea & Tarte in Mangawhai opened for business under level 3 on April 28 and has been doing a roaring trade in coffee.


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Owner Louisa Lee said last week they made just under 400 coffees for customers desperate for a decent caffeine fix.

"We did such a massive week. It's amazing how much people missed coffee."

So far people have bought 11 vouchers to support the cake business which amounted to $200.

"A lot of regulars have bought them to support us. It's not a lot but it's still money coming in.

"The response and support from the community has been massive. What they've done is amazing."

The SOS Business website – short for Save our Small Businesses - was launched the day after the Government announced the level 4 lockdown which saw all non-essential businesses close for more than four weeks to fight Covid-19.

SOS Business founder David Downs has helped dozens of Northland businesses via his website. Photo / Supplied
SOS Business founder David Downs has helped dozens of Northland businesses via his website. Photo / Supplied

It was initially called SOS Cafes and aimed only at cafes and restaurants but was so popular it quickly expanded to include all small businesses including hairdressers and beauty parlours.


Businesses can join the website and sell gift vouchers worth $5, $25 or $100 to customers, which they can redeem when they reopen.

Customers can also opt to give donations.

So far 2487 businesses around New Zealand have joined.

More than 60,600 vouchers have now been sold totalling a whopping $1.3 million.

All the orders placed up until April 30 have so far been paid out, and another couple of payment runs will be carried out this week.

Ake Ake Restaurant in Kerikeri is one of many businesses that decided to remain closed under level 3.

Judy Owen - who owns the restaurant with her husband Chris – said opening for takeaways and deliveries was not viable.

"It's not viable to have it open for takeaways and we're not willing to compromise on the standard of food. It's also off the beaten track so people would have to make a special trip out, so it just wasn't feasible."

Owen said the SOS initiative was "a wonderful idea" and about eight vouchers had been purchased so far.

"We've also had some donations, which is really kind of people."