By Don Good, Waikato Chamber CEO
Seeing the pictures of the devastation to Hawke’s Bay, it is easy to forget the cyclones also hit Northland, Auckland, Coromandel, Gisborne, Port Waikato, Matamata-Piako, Waitomo, Waihi Beach and many other parts of New Zealand
One of the first responses of many of our members was “How can we help?” those affected by the cyclones. In short, the first responders do a magnificent job, and letting them get on with what they are trained and resourced to do is sensible. This Government has been good at crisis management, and they will put more dollars and other resource into those areas that are affected by the storms to get them through the initial shock of the devastation.
The opportunity for a real contribution by our members and other businesspeople to these communities comes in the long months after the initial heroes have done their job.
It is commerce that these communities need. It is trade that will fill their tills, pay the bills and help restore their well-being.
Paying customers who make the effort to buy goods and services from businesses that have been hit by nature will be a godsend. It might be a bottle or two of Hawkes Bay red from Esk Valley, or making a salad with a lettuce from Gisborne, or a couple of coffees and a pie from one of the cafes in any of the towns that have been blitzed.
Your custom, your cash, buying their goods will be one of the most revitalising responses you can contribute to getting hard hit communities back on their feet.
As an example, many Waikato people holiday in the Coromandel. It is a pain with State Highway 25A out of action but an extra 30-minute travel through Waihi to the eastern side of the peninsula or a trip up the western side to Coromandel township, even if it is for a weekend, will help put cash into their tills and allow them to re-stand their businesses up. Some of you will be fixing your baches from the destruction of the winds and rain. That dollar spend will flow through the small communities and lift their spirits and their businesses.
We know economic conditions are tough at present, but your targeted purchasing will be an investment in returning their community to prosperity.
It is not the hero stuff of a TV interview or a newspaper article, but the effect of your buying decisions and cold hard cash will have a huge effect on the speed of their recovery. There but for the grace of nature goes the rest of the Waikato.