Support package extended for Kaikōura businesses

5:34 pm on 27 February 2017

The government has extended for a second time its support package for businesses hit by last year's Kaikōura earthquake - although, this time, those based in the Wellington or Hutt areas will no longer be eligible.

Kaikoura main street 19 January 2017.

Visitor spending has dropped in Kaikōura and the Upper South Island since the 14 November 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Photo: RNZ / Joelle Dally

The [original eight-week wage subsidy package announced after the quake was set to run out in early March after being extended by eight weeks.

Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges said another extension made sense as Kaikōura and Hurunui were still "getting back on their feet".

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said the extra funding would be allocated in two stages.

"For the first four weeks, businesses will receive $375 per week for each full-time employee and $225 for each part-time employee. For the second four weeks, that will move to $250 and $150 respectively."

Businesses in the Wellington and Hutt areas would no longer be eligible, from this Sunday. "Wellington and Hutt Councils have told us that most cordons will soon be lifted," Mr Bridges said.

Businesses have so far received almost $15 million in support since the disaster.

Cabinet has also approved a $1m business grant programme for Kaikōura, Hurunui and Marlborough. A business recovery trust will be set up to administer the fund.

"Kaikōura and the surrounding area are recovering slowly, but it will take time to reopen State Highway One," Mr Bridges said.

"We believe the establishment of a business recovery trust, similar to the one which supported Christchurch businesses after the Canterbury earthquakes, is the ideal way to ensure support is targeted to businesses most in need post 30 April."

Kaikōura tourism also gets a boost

The government also announced a new support package to promote tourism in Kaikōura and other upper South Island districts.

Visitor spending has dropped in the Kaikōura district since the earthquake and is still lagging behind normal levels.

Tourism Minister Paula Bennett said the extra funding would help bring in more overseas visitors following a "challenging summer".

"Funding of $650,000 will go to Kaikōura to enable a strong and early marketing push for the 2017/18 peak season ... It will also support work to attract more domestic visitors now, with the majority of the region's tourism, retail and hospitality establishments open for business."

Another $150,000 would go towards Marlborough's tourism industry to encourage New Zealanders to continue visiting the region.

"A further $70,000 will be made available to promote common Top of the South touring routes to the international travel trade, as these have changed following the earthquake," Mrs Bennett added.

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