Rotorua city leaders and those at the forefront of some of the region's biggest sectors are backing a new media campaign encouraging people to buy local.
Business, tourism, hospitality and retail came to a standstill when Covid-19 put the country into level 4 lockdown.
But as Rotorua adjusts to life in level 3, NZME, publisher of the Rotorua Daily Post, has today launched a new major media campaign to help stimulate the local economy.
GO LOCAL! is a call to action for people to support local businesses and organisations, which city leaders say is more important than ever to help get Bay businesses back on their feet.
The campaign will shine a light on businesses being innovative and supporting one another during levels 3 and 2 - and beyond, as well as and supporting specific buy local initiatives in various communities across the city and region.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said 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."
Going local meant buying local, Chadwick said.
"Don't do your purchases elsewhere, support locally. Enjoy your backyard.
"Just think about how you can buy that contributes to the region. Use local product where you can."
Chadwick said the businesses that needed the most support were retail, tourism and hospitality.
"At the moment we are all going through a tough time and everyone's families are affected. But I do believe we can come out of it much stronger and better when we stand together.
"When we come out of lockdown and keep that local neighbourhood support going, we are going to see a much more resilient and joined-up community."
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said the campaign was a "great idea" and complemented the chamber's member-to-member buying initiative.
"We are encouraging that member to member trading."
Destination Rotorua chief executive Michelle Templer said she was looking forward to being able to support some of her favourite local businesses again.
"We're lucky to have such a diverse range of innovative businesses in Rotorua and they play a big part in the vibrancy and special character of this city for those of us who live here as much as for the people who visit."
Templer hoped people will do what they can to buy local products, support local business owners, enjoy takeaway coffees and food from the cafes and restaurants opening in level 3.
"And then, when the time is right, we can all make the most of the world-famous attractions and activities we have in our backyard.
"There are very few cities of this size that have so much to offer and 'go local' means doing what we can to maintain that."
Templer said Destination Rotorua was creating a place on its website for local businesses to let people know they were open.
"We'll be running promotions and competitions to help promote them over the coming weeks, as well as continuing our business development support to help businesses respond to the changing conditions."
Red Stag chief executive Marty Verry said the country faced "an unprecedented situation, with a recession that may turn out to be a depression".
"As a country, we need to think strategically about procurement, whilst complying with World Trade Organisation rules.
"More than ever we need to think about where every dollar ends up, how many businesses it supports on the way and how many kiwis it keeps in work."
Verry said a building made from wood supported a large number of businesses and employees from planting and sawmills to construction companies and trucks with money staying in the economy.
That compared to a building made from concrete and steel where Verry said each dollar quickly ended up overseas and deprived Kiwis of jobs and was a lost opportunity for New Zealand to recover fast and strong.
"Our sector is calling on the government to lead this policy with its own procurement and the message seems to be getting through."
He encouraged those who spend thousands annually on overseas holidays to instead go local and spend it on New Zealand holidays.
"Go find out why our country is on the bucket list of millions worldwide. In terms of goods and construction, Go Local means buy products sourced sustainably from New Zealand. Climate polluting steel and cement from Asia are out."
Verry said the industries that needed the most support were tourism, construction and wood processing, which was a big regional employer.
"The employment multiplier across forestry, wood processing and pulp sectors is around three, meaning every job supports two others.
"There are around 20,000 employees in the sector, meaning the sector supports around 60,000 families in total, mainly in the regions."
Buying a new home or commercial building was a big decision that took confidence.
"Few may have that confidence in the next year or two, but it will re-emerge once we have two things in place, a vaccine or other treatment for Covid-19 and the re-emergence of economic growth.
"It's the latter that's in our hands and we can bring that day forward by supporting Go Local!"
Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said our local economy and the people behind those businesses needed the community's support more than ever.
Dunne said tourism, including retail, hospitality, transport and attractions was one of the first-hit industries, with overall spend in the region by visitors and residents down by 60 per cent.
"New Zealand's economy has been devastated by the impacts of Covid-19. As much as we are able, we should support local to try and stimulate the economy.
"Kiwis did a fantastic job of saving lives while we stayed at home during alert level 4, and now we need to try and save jobs by supporting local businesses as much as the alert level restrictions allow.
"Bay of Plenty locals are known for their manaakitanga, our care of each other, and we will come together to support each other now."
Dunne said going local meant buying local goods, seeking out local service providers and exploring your own backyard to back New Zealand's economy.
"We are a community made up of small and medium enterprises, so for the majority when we support local businesses, we support local families.
"When we choose to support local, we're supporting our neighbours, our friends and whānau to get back on their feet, and that is what makes the economy go around.
"When the alert level restrictions allow, New Zealand will have the chance to rediscover our beautiful region all over again."
SOS! Businesses supported through lockdown and beyond
Bay of Plenty businesses have been supported through the Covid-19 lockdown and now into level 3 with vouchers redeemable when businesses open their doors.
SOS Business, formerly SOS Cafe, was set up to help local businesses sell gift cards people can redeem when they open to give them a fighting chance of surviving the impacts of Covid-19 and help them stay afloat.
Co-founder David Downs said 137 Bay businesses have signed up, including 46 in Tauranga and 22 in Rotorua with more than $70,000 in voucher sales so far.
Downs said the website started with just half a dozen businesses but now included about 2500 from across the country.
"Everyone wants to support their local business," he said. "I think it is something practical that they can do while in lockdown."
Giovanni's Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria on Te Ngae Rd was one of the Rotorua businesses registered on the SOS Business website.
Owner and chef Deep Kumar said Covid-19 meant the restaurant had many cancellations, especially during Easter which was usually one of the second busiest months in hospitality.
But Kumar felt lucky to be supported by the Government's wage subsidy and was looking forward to opening again in level 3.
"The saddest thing that has happened is we can no longer see our customers. But safety is the most important."
Kumar said now more than ever it was important to support local business to help boost the economy and keep people employed.
"We have always been supporting locals. Tourism is a bonus for us and helps us in the summertime but it's the locals who get us through the winter."
Kumar said the pizzeria will open in level 3 under a contactless online ordering system.
"We are also running a campaign called We Owe You. You order takeaways with us when we open and when you can dine in we will offer 10 per cent discount on your meal.
"You support us in these hard times and we look after you when you come back."
Although he was excited to open in level 3, Kumar said business was going to look "completely different."
"Especially being a chef, when we plate up it is all about art. In a takeaway container, we don't know what it is going to look like by the time it gets to your house.
"I encourage people to not eat out of the container but to plate up. Pretend you are dining at the restaurant."