$37.5m to help bring back Auckland's buzz

The Government is pumping $37.5 million this summer to promote travel around Auckland for Aucklanders in a bid to bring back the buzz that quietened when the city was put in months-long Covid-19 restrictions.

A voucher and discount scheme will let families register the possibility of receiving discounts or vouchers to use at various attractions around Auckland.

Any individual or family with an Auckland postcode will be eligible and residents can register interest for a voucher from December 15.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the package at Auckland Zoo today. The city had faced more than 100 days of lockdown and businesses and families had borne the brunt of the restrictions, she said.

Since working on the new traffic light system, it would start to look somewhat normal during Covid-19 times. But officials remained aware that safety measures needed to be put in place.

On today's $37.5 million Auckland package, Ardern described it as a "win-win" to support businesses.

"That would enable families ... to come to the zoo for free."

The Prime Minister said the package would help to "bring life" back to those places and attractions in the region and hoped the scheme would reach people from around Auckland.

Up to 350,000 people would benefit from the voucher scheme, with the allocation process to take into account postcodes. The vouchers would be available for use until April 3.

Auckland has been in high Covid-19 alert level restrictions since mid-August and will move to the...
Auckland has been in high Covid-19 alert level restrictions since mid-August and will move to the red light setting when the traffic light system kicks in on Friday. Photo: courtesy of Auckland Arts Festival 2020

Two initiatives 

Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni and Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash also talked about the Reactivating Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland package.

Nash said the $37.5 million package had been put together with Auckland Council and Auckland Unlimited.

"The first initiative is the Explore Tāmaki Makaurau this Summer voucher and discount scheme. It will take a few weeks to implement but will be well worth it when it goes live.

"The second initiative is the Local Activation Programme, 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."

Nash said $10 million had been allocated for the Local Activation Programme and organisers must require vaccination certificates and follow public health restrictions.

"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."

Sepuloni said the package would "help to spark the city's arts and culture life again, reactivate economic activity and enhance people's wellbeing over summer".

"Families need a break, businesses need new customers, and those in the most hardship also need help with the basics like food."

Explore Tāmaki Makaurau is a $12 million voucher and discount programme meant to encourage families and individuals to visit commercial attractions and council-owned facilities over summer.

"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."

Another $12 million will go towards foodbanks.

"We are also immediately boosting funding for foodbanks and community food organisations to meet demand and to ensure they're able to support households this Christmas.

"Yesterday we announced details of the Arts and Cultural Events Support Scheme which opens today for applications. This provides certainty for event organisers, confidence for vaccinated New Zealanders to attend and enjoy events, and reassurance for artists and crew who intend to put on events," Sepuloni said.

And $3.5 million has been set aside for a promotional and marketing campaign.

Nash said about $1.8 billion in wage subsidies had already been paid to workers in Auckland, and a further $1 billion to businesses for fixed costs under the Resurgence Support Payment. A new transition payment for Auckland, Waikato and Northland will also pay up to $490 million 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.

Funding will apply to events and activities between December 15 and April 3.

- RNZ and NZ Herald 

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