Aucklanders are being offered 100,000 vouchers this summer for a range of activities in a bid to "reactivate" the city as it shakes off the shackles of nearly four months in lockdown.
The scheme, launched today by the Government and Auckland Council, is akin to Covid economic recovery schemes adopted around the world, such as Britain's "Eat Out to Help Out" dining subsidy.
The peak of the lockdown was estimated to have cost the country $1.5 billion a week, and at level 3 it was costing about $440 million a week.
Dubbed "Explore Tāmaki Makaurau this summer", the $37.5 million reactivation package includes $12m in vouchers to attractions, discounts to Auckland's council facilities, funding for events and food support.
Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni said the funding would encourage whānau to re-engage with the city, and also help out those in real hardship.
"There will be 100,000 vouchers available for families and individuals as well as discounts or free access to Auckland Council facilities to help get Aucklanders out and experience the city while providing much-needed foot traffic in the CBD," Sepuloni said.
People will need to apply online for the vouchers, which will be offered at $100 for a family of four, and $50 for a single adult. They will only be able to be used at businesses that have signed up between mid-January and April.
Similar schemes used around the world include Britain's Eat Out to Help Out in August last year that subsidised more than 160m meals, costing close to $1.7b.
In the United States, three Covid stimulus cheques have been issued to eligible individuals - totalling about $4700 - along with child tax credits.
An Arts and Cultural Events Support Scheme was also launched today along with the Local Activation Programme and is a contestable fund for businesses or community organisations to organise events that are free for the public.
"It will help bring neighbourhoods and town centres back to life," Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash said.
"We encourage Aucklanders to rediscover the best of local businesses and visitor attractions.
"This support will reach a wide range of communities and neighbourhoods, through activities like Christmas markets, new year cultural performances, and council-run sports and leisure facilities."
About $1.8b in wage subsidies have already been paid to workers in Auckland, and a further $1b to businesses for fixed costs under the Resurgence Support Payment.
A new transition payment for Auckland, Waikato and Northland will also pay up to $490m to regional businesses.
"This support package takes the next step by revitalising households, businesses and community groups to get out and enjoy the best that Tāmaki Makaurau has to offer through a targeted boost to the regional economy," Nash said.
Auckland Central Green MP Chloe Swarbrick said they welcomed the boost for tourism, but Auckland also needed liveable incomes and affordable, secure housing to address the inequities exposed and exacerbated through the lockdown.
"This announcement, unfortunately, does not support or 'thank' Aucklanders equitably. It doesn't deal with the inequities Covid not only exposed, but amplified. These won't go away unless they're addressed."
Her colleague and spokesman for social development and employment Ricardo Menendez March said foodbanks should not be treated as a solution to poverty.
"Families do not want to go to a foodbank to feed their kids. They want liveable wages, income security, affordable homes and a proper economic safety net. Only providing leftover food for people who are already left behind is not good enough."