Concerns Hurunui businesses missing out on quake support

6:37 pm on 10 July 2017

Hurunui District mayor Winton Dalley is disappointed only two business in his area are benefiting from a government support grant to help quake hit businesses.

Kaikoura earthquake  - power lines and water mains

Infrastructure damage after the November earthquake. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Figures from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) show since applications opened on 1 May, $206,770 from the $1 million available have been given to eight businesses in the Kaikōura area and two in the Hurunui District.

The figures also show as at 4 July, seven applications have been declined and the Ministry is awaiting further information from nine others.

Mr Dalley said some businesses were not applying for the grant as the criteria was too tough - such as needing to prove they had two years of successful trading before the quakes and that they had the potential to successfully recover.

He said he knew a number of businesses in his district that would benefit from the grant and he was disappointed that only one fifth of the total money available had been allocated.

"I simply don't understand why it has been made so difficult for people to access that support.

"It is unbelievably simple to understand that when State Highway One is closed for 12 months, the businesses who rely on the traffic on State Highway One are going to have difficulties."

The co-owner of the Cheviot Tea Rooms on State Highway One, Lyn Turner, said her business had suffered a 50 percent down turn since the quake.

She said they were still compiling their application as they were waiting on information from the last financial year, which ended in April.

Winton Dalley

Hurunui District mayor Winton Dalley. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

Ms Turner said she was worried they might not meet the criteria for the grant - but she was unsure how much longer they would last without it.

"The noose is tightening a little bit, I'm just not sure [how much longer we can last]," she said.

Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges said he had received assurances from the MBIE that it was showing flexibility with grant applications.

He said he was not concerned that only ten applications had been approved so far.

"We are not working to any stringent rules in terms of the criteria for this business recovery grant programme," he said.

"My advice to people who are there, in this region, who think that they have got real problems they should definitely apply [for the grant]... because we want to apply the criteria and the grant programme with some flexibility and understanding"

Mr Bridges said State Highway One North of Kaikōura was on track to be reopened by the end of the year.

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