GOLOCAL


Residents are being urged to tautoko struggling businesses as they recover from the effects of Covid-19 to ensure Rotorua does not become a ghost town.

Facebook page Tautoko, meaning support, was set up about two weeks ago to encourage people to shop, support, spend and tautoko Māori-owned businesses and enterprises post Covid-19.

More than 3000 people and 150 businesses have joined the group.

Founder Rawiri Bhana started the group when he saw those around him affected by Covid-19.

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"I know houses in Rotorua personally where every single person in that house, eight or nine people, have all lost their jobs.

"Rotorua is a town that hugely relies on tourism and our tourism is run by our people, Bhana said.

"I don't want to see our town become a ghost town, I want to ensure every dollar is invested back into our own."

An example of The Village Caterer's offerings. Photo / Supplied
An example of The Village Caterer's offerings. Photo / Supplied

Bhana said while businesses big and small had been affected, small ones were less likely to recover.

"It's scary to think about what might happen to Rotorua if we don't tautoko each other.

"Even though we are a mid to large size city, we are still a community.

"Even if it helps one business I'm happy."

Since the group started, more than 150 businesses have come on board and it is expanding its reach.

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Similar groups have been set up in other areas including Te Tai Tokerau and people in Tauranga have also approached Ikaroa-Rāwhiti and Bhana about setting up a page for the area.

"It's grown bigger than I thought; people have taken the idea and run with it."

Bhana said people could, once restrictions allowed it, refer to the groups when travelling around the country and think about where they were spending their disposable income.

Economists predict nationwide unemployment could reach between 8 and 10 per cent by the end of the year.

With the Māori unemployment rate currently double the national average there are fears it could also be double any peaks.

Locally, Ngāi Tahu Tourism has already folded and Te Puia has laid off staff.

Bhana's message is simple: "Everyone needs to be looked after. We're all each other's brother and sister and auntie and uncle."

Ranui Maxwell runs The Village Caterer while looking after her sons and working part time. Photo / Supplied
Ranui Maxwell runs The Village Caterer while looking after her sons and working part time. Photo / Supplied

Ranui Maxwell runs the Village Caterer with Wai Morrison and said since the move to level 3 and since their part-time business had been posted on the page they'd been "busier than ever".

"Rotorua locals shared the post and I'm grateful for that.

"There are a lot of pages set up whether it's Māori or other posting advertising goods and services."

She acknowledged Bhana.

The Village Caterer co-owner Wai Morrison. Photo / Supplied
The Village Caterer co-owner Wai Morrison. Photo / Supplied

"He's always been about supporting the community and does an awesome job, so I'm grateful."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website