Plea for quake support package to be extended

11:31 am on 19 February 2017

A Kaikōura businessman says the government needs to extend the support package they launched following the November earthquake.

Owner of Kaikoura Cheese, Daniel Jenkins

Daniel Jenkins said the support package should be extended past March. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The Earthquake Support Subsidy, which gives quake-affected businesses $500 a week for each full-time employee and $300 a week for part-time employees, is due to end on 6 March.

The subsidy for businesses in Kaikōura and the Hurunui District was originally set to last for eight weeks after the 14 November earthquake, but was extended to 16 weeks.

However business is still very slow for shops like Kaikōura Cheese, which is selling one-fifth of the stock they normally would over summer.

The store's co-owner, Daniel Jenkins, said it needed to be extended past March or it could have a big social impact on Kaikōura.

"This time we need a package that's going to be a longer period so we can actually start doing some business planning and also it will give our staff a bit more security," he said.

"If we lose that package it will start having social impacts on the town, not only does it make it hard for us as a business, as a town it certainly puts the pressure on."

Kaikōura District Mayor Winston Gray estimated that he was seeing only 30 percent of the number of tourists he normally would at this time of year, and also wanted to see the package extended to help struggling businesses through what could be a very tough winter.

"The key for us is really to have business in a position when the inevitable turn comes by the road opening to the north and the next tourist season, we need our business people here to be ready to deliver the service that will be required."

The government said it was currently in talks with the community over whether to extend the support package.

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