Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.

JOHN CARTER - MAYOR OF THE FAR NORTH DISTRICT OF NEW ZEALAND


Moving forward together

2 December 2021

Good news comes with traffic light decision

Tomorrow, Northland will transition to the red setting of the new COVID-19 Protection Framework or 'traffic light' system. The decision, announced on Monday, was widely expected due to a combination of factors, such as the capacity of our hospital system and levels of contact tracing. However, the key reason is that roughly 20% of Northland remains unvaccinated. This setting, which applies restrictions similar to Alert Level 2, will be reviewed again in two weeks. Also announced on Monday is a one-off transition payment of up to $24,000 for Northland, Auckland and Waikato businesses badly impacted by heightened alert levels applied since August. This may be a lifeline for many Far North businesses and is on top of the latest round of Resurgence Support Payments.

Further good news for our tourism, accommodation and hospitality sector is the launch next week of a marketing campaign targeting New Zealand holiday makers. The goal of the Northland Inc campaign is to encourage Kiwis to make Te Tai Tokerau their holiday destination this summer. The campaign runs for 10 weeks and will be promoted widely on social media, through competitions, magazines, and television. The aim of the campaign, which targets Kiwis based from Taupo north, is to encourage visitors to stay with us for longer. These are visitors more likely to load up the car with camping and fishing gear, kayaks, bikes and even the boat, and commit to an extended holiday in our part of the world.

These visitors may already be familiar with the Twin Coast Discovery Highway and its attractions on both coasts. To encourage them to explore further, three new Northland Journeys will also be promoted. The Secret Coast Route, Ancient Kauri Trail and Where Giants Gather Northland Journeys aim to inspire visitors to dig deeper into our history and discover more about Te Tai Tokerau's unique attractions. These journeys will help promote our smaller operators outside the main tourism hubs who are also struggling from the loss of international tourism and being cut off from the rest of the country by the Auckland border.

While I hope Northlanders will welcome visitors to our region this summer, this should not be at any cost. The goal of the red traffic light setting is to protect at-risk people and our health system. All of us – locals and visitors alike - must continue to scan into the places we visit, wear face coverings in public venues, and elsewhere if we can. Retailers will be open, but with 1-metre distancing. Following these rules will be crucial. We cannot allow an influx of visitors to become a death sentence for our most vulnerable. This is underlined by news of the Omicron strain of COVID-19 infecting populations overseas. It also adds weight to the desire of iwi to protect their whanau by re-establishing border controls within their rohe. We all want to stay safe and enjoy the summer. I believe we can achieve that by showing respect for each other and by following the advice of health experts. Above all, let's achieve our 90% vaccination rate.

 

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