Bay of Plenty business owners have shared what they want from the new Labour Government after a landslide party vote to red in the region.
Their biggest hope is for the Government to prioritise keeping the economy moving with continued business support for stability and certainty in the next three years.
Wage subsidies and cashflow loans were praised, but concerns were raised that costs of policies to up the minimum wage and double sick leave would fall on business owners.
Hello Stranger Cafe and Arts Village Cafe owner Bianca Nieuwboer said she just hoped for continued support for small businesses.
The Arts Village Cafe has been operating in Rotorua for about a year and Nieuwboer opened the Hello Stranger Cafe about four months ago after the lockdown.
Nieuwboer said the wage subsidies and cash flow loans were helpful in being able to keep both businesses open.
"Labour has been pretty good for us."
Activities and Events Unlimited owner Ian Mexted-Dykes said the biggest item on his wish list was that Covid did not come back again.
"For us in the event industry, if we go even into level 2 again that's a major."
The second item on his wish list was for the Government to work on a Covid-19 vaccine.
Mexted-Dykes said the wage subsidies had helped them get through the lockdowns.
"If we hadn't had that I don't think we would be here now."
Manager of Rotorua Rockshop Richard Anaru said opening the borders as long as it was safe to do so would be a "huge economic boost" for the tourist town.
Anaru said the Government's Covid response needed to stay strong.
"As long as the Covid response is strong and we can prove economic growth by staying strong we could have the strongest dollar on the planet in years to come."
Red Stag Timber group chief executive Marty Verry said there clearly needed to be a plan to bring in more managed isolation facilities to get international students, fruit pickers, skilled migrants and high-value tourists into the country.
"Government could be far more ambitious in this regard, as it's a constraint on many of the sectors most affected by Covid."
With the election over, Verry expected a more nuanced approach to opening up two-way travel bubbles with the parts of Australia and the Pacific Islands that were free of Covid.
"Currently Australia is getting the benefit of our brain drain, without any benefit coming back this way in the form of tourists and migrants."
Verry said it was also important the Government pushed on ambitiously with its plans to address climate change through higher use of wood in building construction, led by government agencies and departments.
"This will also trigger significant investments and jobs to process more logs in the Bay.
"To take the pressure off farming's emissions, other sectors need to target earlier neutrality and embodied carbon in buildings is one area that can be neutral by 2030."
What business leaders want
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said the Labour Government had been handed a strong mandate to deliver its policies without the impediment of any governing partners, helping with stability and confidence.
"What we would like to see is a clear strategy to place scarce taxpayers' money into areas where economic growth and provision of long-term infrastructure are delivered."
Heard said palliative care would be necessary also, but it was not the long-term solution and needed to be more tightly directed.
"We must foster the key drivers of our economy and ensure that they grow and prosper, including farming, horticulture, forestry, tourism, manufacturing, education and housing.
"Targeted support into these areas will be vital to the economic engine of New Zealand.
"We must bear in mind that the money is borrowed, so it is the future taxpayers who will have to shoulder the burden of repayment, so let's invest in their needs rather than our own short-term goals."
Head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners Mark Lister said he wanted to see stability and certainty for the business community during the next three years.
"Politicians need to understand that while they might set the framework, it is businesspeople that take risks, innovate, invest their capital and ultimately are the ones who create the jobs for the rest of us.
"While politicians can provide support, they also need to get out of the way and let businesses get on with things, without overregulating them or creating uncertainty that sees them retrench or put growth opportunities on hold."
What hospitality wants
Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty branch president Reg Hennessy said there had never been a time in the hospitality industry for a government to show "actual support and leadership as many are now on their knees".
Hennessy, who owns Hennessy's Irish Bar in Rotorua, said running a bar, cafe or restaurant was reliant on customers, and international and domestic travellers.
"With international tourism totally gone ... domestic tourism is left, but hugely dependent on local confidence and a positive domestic economy to support us."
He believed increasing the minimum wage to $20 and taking sick days to 10 would mean the rising costs would be passed on to consumers at all levels.
"Another major problem for all small businesses has been the inaction on commercial rents.
"... let's hope we see some strong leadership on this problem, as indicated repeatedly by Labour."
Going forward. Hennessy said it would help if the Government could give Rotorua and the hospitality industry back its motels for tourists and formulate a plan for "proper support and wellbeing of our people".
He also hoped for a plan for returnees "so they do not use up all our hotel rooms".
What retail wants
Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said the biggest issue for retail currently was consumer confidence.
"We really hope that the new Government will prioritise keeping the economy moving, and looking for ways to stimulate consumer confidence."
Harford said Retail NZ was also keen to see a review of the restrictions that apply in different alert levels and said there needed to be more focus on trying to keep businesses open at level 3 if it can be done safely.
"This is the best way of keeping businesses going as we manage through Covid-19."
The new Government has proposed changes to wage rates, sick leave entitlements, public holidays, which Harford said could have a significant impact on the viability of retail businesses and lead to unforeseen consequences including reductions in hours or jobs.
What tourism wants
Rotorua Economic Development chief executive Andrew Wilson welcomed the chance to work with the incoming Labour Government but said there was no "single magic bullet" for Rotorua's needs.
"Instead we are focused on developing a suite of solutions that are tailored specifically to the needs of our community in order to effect the best outcomes for the region."
Wilson said Rotorua was a community that required ideas and collaborations with central government, which enable community-led solutions especially in areas of high concern.
"We will continue to work closely with the new Government in regards to tourism, housing and economic development, to develop positive change here in Rotorua.
"But it is vital that the new Government recognises that a one-size-fits-all model isn't the best approach for our city."