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.
Any individual or family with an Auckland postcode will be eligible and Auckland residents can register interest for a voucher from 15 December.
Today Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni and Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash announced a Reactivating Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland package.
Nash said the $37.5 million package had been put together jointly 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."
He said $10m 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."
Funding will apply to events and activities between 15 December and 3 April.
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 $12m 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 $12m 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 $1bn to businesses for fixed costs under the Resurgence Support Payment. A new transition payment for Auckland, Waikato and Northland will also pay up to $490m 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.
In Tāmaki Makaurau today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the transition payment was put in place to assist hospitality businesses in Auckland.
"Even at red you do see hospitality able to reopen to welcome back patrons in a way that of course they haven't been able to in the weeks prior."
On hospitality venues not using the vaccine pass, Ardern said, if someone complained, the venue could be fined.
When asked how the system would be fair with 100,000 vouchers available in a city of more than a million people, Ardern said: "The one thing we've wanted to do is try and reach as many people as we can in a meaningful way."
Auckland Unlimited said the vouchers could be able to be used by up to 350,000 people. There would be limits of only one voucher per household.
Carmel Sepuloni told Checkpoint the government looked at a range of options and found funding Auckland Unlimited to give vouchers to Aucklanders was the easiest to get running.
Auckland Council was the main point of contact when trying to determine what was best for the city, she said.
Sepuloni says she knows there will be equity of reciept of the vouchers.