Friday, 29 July 2022: Opening Of Our Border Is Our Moment To Get Our Welcome Right

At long last, the borders are opening and as midnight strikes on July 31 New Zealand must stand tall to welcome tourists, investors, students, and importantly skilled workers to show a bright future and once and for all banish our obsession with gloom, says Auckland Business Chamber CEO, Michael Barnett.

“We have an opportunity to move beyond catastrophising the impacts of Covid on our country and become gloom busters instead of switching off prospective visitors with our focus on reporting strained services, a health system unable to cope, schools unable to cope, cancelled transport services, constraints to free movement and hotels and eateries closed to comply with isolation requirements,” he said. “This is our moment to get our storytelling right so do not waste it.”

Businesses will be disappointed that planeloads of skilled migrants will not be arriving to get as many enterprises as possible back to full strength, but borders opening is a significant milestone in living with the virus and economic, social, and wellbeing recovery.

For more information, please contact Michael Barnett on 027 563 1150

Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Business Chamber

 

 

Friday, 22 July 2022: Voting Is Now Open For The 2022/23 Chamber Board

Nominations have now closed for the 4 available Chamber Board Member positions. Online voting is now open and closes close of business at 4pm on Monday, 1st of August 2022. 

The Chamber Board is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the Chamber. We are seeking energetic and intellectual people who represent the makeup of our community and want to make a positive contribution to the future of our city and the business community that serves it.

The successful Chamber Board Members for 2022 will be announced at our AGM on Thursday 4 August at Pullman Rotorua at 5:30-7pm.

VOTE NOW

 

 

Tuesday, 5 July 2022: Nominations Are Now Open For The 2022/23 Chamber Board

Nominations are NOW open and close at midday on 21 July 2022.
The Executive Board is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the Chamber. The term of office is two years but there is no maximum number of terms an individual may serve.

There are 4 positions available and election is by online voting. The successful candidates will be announced at the AGM on 4 August 2022.

We are seeking energetic and forward-thinking people who represent the makeup of our community and want to make a positive contribution to the future of our city and the business community that serves it.

If you are considering a position on the Board, please download the nomination form below and return it to the chamber by midday on 21 July.

Nominations must be done on the nomination form and seconded by a current Chamber member.
Scanned copies will be accepted.

Only Chamber members will be permitted to nominate and vote for board members.

 

DOWNLOAD NOMINATION FORM

 

 

 

Friday 8 April 2022 (Inflation is here, can we put it back in the bottle?)

Inflation is here, can we put it back in the bottle?

This was our topic of discussion at our second Westpac Smarts Seminar, held on 31 March at Novotel Rotorua Lakeside.

We would like to thank our guest speaker, Matt Henry, Head of Wealth Management Research at Forsyth Barr who spoke about inflation and its effects on our economy.

If you are wanting to see the PowerPoint presentation that was presented by Henry, click the image below.

We are already looking forward to our next Westpac Smarts event on Thursday, 26th May. Stay tuned for more information.



Tuesday 15 March 2022 (New measure to boost housing supply in Rotorua Lakes District)

Rotorua Lakes Council is to join the Tier 1 major urban centres covered by the medium density residential standards (MDRS) in a move that will significantly increase housing supply in the Rotorua Lakes District.
Housing Minister Dr Megan Woods and Environment Minister David Parker announced the move today following a request from Rotorua Lakes Council and its partners Te Arawa Lakes Trust and Te Tatau o Te Arawa.
Rotorua has recently experienced strong population increases, but housing supply has not kept pace – meaning many residents have been locked out of affordable home ownership and rental properties.

“The MDRS means up to three homes of up to three storeys each will be able to be built on most residential sites without requiring a resource consent,” David Parker said.

“This allows for a greater variety of housing close to jobs, transport and community facilities – the places people want to be.”

Rotorua Lakes Council will now need to update their district plans to align with the medium density residential standards (MDRS) and National Policy Statement on Urban Development.

“The housing situation in Rotorua needs urgent attention, so we are delighted to see Rotorua Lakes Council proactively addressing its planning rules,” Megan Woods said.

“Including Rotorua Lakes Council under these regulations will significantly increase the number of houses that can be built in the city.”

“This is a welcome step as part of all the work underway to build more housing for Rotorua and remove some of the barriers that have been in the way,” Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said.

“The decision to seek Rotorua’s inclusion in this legislation was unanimously supported by our elected members who all recognise the acute housing needs in our district.”

Some of the new rules which implement the MDRS will be in place from August 2022, while others that require more consideration under the National Policy Statement on Urban Development will come into effect in late 2023.
The Government has a partnership in Rotorua with the council, iwi and service providers to jointly coordinate work to alleviate the city’s housing shortage.

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick says:

“This is a very welcome step as part of all the work underway to get more housing for Rotorua and remove barriers to achieving that,” Mayor Steve Chadwick says.

“Seeking Rotorua’s inclusion in the Housing Supply Bill was unanimously supported by our elected members because we all recognise, as has Government, the acute need we have in our district.”

Mayor Chadwick says Rotorua’s Housing and Business Assessment confirms the district’s housing deficit is severe – a shortage of 1890 homes in the short term (including unmet demand of 1500), a shortage of 1400 in the medium term (including the unmet demand) and 3630 in the long term.

“We need to act now to respond to that demand – and we are – but we’ve always said we can’t do it alone. We need a collaborative approach and all available tools and options at our disposal to achieve the housing outcomes our community needs and the Bill will enable us to move at pace on intensification.

“It won’t be intensification at any cost. Design guides and a Future Development Strategy will help protect and enhance what we love about our city and working alongside our Te Arawa partners, to understand and realise iwi aspirations, will ensure cultural values and principles underpin our conversations about growth.”

Rotorua Councillor Tania Tapsell – Housing Portfolio Lead:

Rotorua Councillor Tania Tapsell who is the Council’s elected member lead on the housing portfolio, says housing intensification will unlock affordable options for people.

“The Act allows us to optimise land that is available to build much-needed options like 1-2 bedroom units. Supporting this is the best thing we can do to remove costly barriers and the time it takes to build as we’ll be able to streamline consenting processes.

“An overhaul of the old rules and processes was well overdue and this is a big step in the right direction for the future of our growing city.

“I’m excited for the opportunities this will open up for our local families to build their own homes or another dwelling on their property. This is the boost of hope that the many people priced out of the housing market have been waiting for. Click here for more information about the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act, the Medium Density Residential Standards and the inclusion of Rotorua.


Monday 10 March (Update on Rotorua MIQ Facilities)


Following departures of travellers last Saturday in line with the removal of self-isolation requirements for vaccinated travellers to New Zealand, there are currently 0 travellers in Rotorua MIQ facilities.
With fewer returnees expected to enter MIQ in the immediate future, at the national level, MIQ has begun to consolidate returnees across a smaller number of facilities. Rotorua MIQ facilities are currently in a ‘deactivated’ state, with minimal staff on site for security purposes only.

Future of MIQ
On 3 February 2022, the Prime Minister announced the Government’s plans for reconnecting New Zealand to the world. In her announcement, she said: ‘this means some hotels returning to traditional use to support the return of our tourists’. The impact of this announcement on individual MIQ facilities is not yet known. The facilities have contracts with MIQ, and the terms and conditions of these contracts will be honoured.
The Government has signalled some form of an MIQ network will be maintained, even if it is not at the same scale as in the past.
With the reduction in border restrictions and an increase in people coming from overseas, we know some of our hotel partners are looking forward to returning to their core business. 
Currently, the Government is working through advice on the future of MIQ and further decisions are expected soon. This will provide greater clarity in terms of the next steps for MIQ and our operations.
We will work with our workers, our partners, the unions, and partner agencies to ensure a people-focused approach to any changes.

COVID-19 Response Minister on the dedication of MIQ workers
I do want to acknowledge our MIQ workforce once again and acknowledge the significant role that MIQ has played in keeping COVID-19 out of the country…. New Zealand has been very fortunate in the sense that we have had a very low mortality rate and a very low case rate, and that has been because of the hard work of the people who have been working at our border and working in our managed isolation facilities, and as many of them find that that work is coming to an end, I want to acknowledge once again the personal toll that that has taken.

As Minister for COVID-19 Response, MIQ has been one of the most difficult parts of this job for me over the last 18 months, and it has involved hearing from workers the sort of thing they have been subjected to, including a lot of personal abuse. They’ve often been ostracised in their communities, excluded from sports clubs, abused in public, and they have continued to go to work every day to keep the country safe. And so as we start to wind that up, I really want to acknowledge them. I also want to give them some reassurance that we will treat them fairly in this next part of the process. They’re not going to show up at work one day and suddenly find that everything is gone and that their job is gone. We will be making sure that we treat them fairly.”

Watch the full press conference here.

MIQ in the News
The Rotorua Daily Post spoke to Rotorua Economic Development about the borders reopening
Rotorua Economic Development chief executive Andrew Wilson said there had been benefits to having MIQ facilities in Rotorua.

"Whilst the need for MIQ facilities may be coming to an end, it's been good for Rotorua to have these facilities as they've provided an income for the properties, employment, and business for local food and beverage providers”

Full story here.

Sent from Ryan Gray,  Senior Communications and Community Engagement Advisor
Managed Isolation and Quarantine



Monday 28 February (Update on CSP's)

Applications for the first COVID Support Payment are now open!
If you are struggling to understand how to determine if you have had the 40% drop in revenue that's required to get the payment (in particular, which dates to use) information is available on ird.govt.nz/csp.

Some businesses are concerned their income was already low during January and early February this year, and the need to show a further 40% drop in revenue will mean they aren't eligible for the payment. In light of this, the Minister of Finance has announced that businesses will also be able to compare their income to the same period in 2021.

For more detail click here.


Thursday 24 February (New financial support for businesses)

Businesses struggling with revenue during the Omicron outbreak will now be eligible for targeted COVID-19 Support Payments (CSPs). 
This payment will be for businesses or organisations who have experienced a 40% or more drop in revenue as a result of different COVID-19 related circumstances.
Three fortnightly CSPs will be available with applications opening for the first payment at 8am, Monday 28 February 2022 for the period starting from Wednesday, 16 February 2022.
Each payment will be $4,000 per business plus $400 per full-time employee (FTE), capped at 50 FTEs or $24,000.
The maximum size of the CSP your business or organisation may be eligible to apply for depends on the number of FTEs you have, and your level of revenue.

To find out more information, or to see if you are eligible visit www.ird.govt.nz


Tuesday 24 February (Most businesses still miss out)

The good news is that we are moving to Phase 3 of our Omicron response limiting isolation to only really close contacts of a case, but the bad news is that Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) are still not available to all so we can move forward together, says Auckland Business Chamber CEO, Michael Barnett.

“It’s all very well reducing isolation to a case’s household contacts but Government needs a dose of reality, stop going down the track of officials determining who are critical workers and eligible for RATs and accelerate the introduction of retail sales for the public,” he said.

“RATs coming to a supermarket shelf near you “soon” is not good enough when the system and supply are overwhelmed by demand. Every New Zealand resident should be able to take a RAT test right now to confirm they are safe to go to work, back to school or get out and about to support struggling local businesses and our dead city centre.”

Mr Barnett said that even health experts are saying that most people will be able to self-manage and self-report an infection and “there really is no need to bring the country to a screeching halt.”

For more information, please contact Michael Barnett on 027 563 1150 or Bryce Heard on 021926812

 

Tuesday 22 February (Government throws lifeline to struggling businesses)

Business will welcome the lifeline of a new six-week package of transition payments, leniency from IRD and an extension of the cashflow loan scheme.

“Government has listened and recognised the plight of hard-hit businesses to meet their costs and hold onto staff as the pressure builds along with Omicron’s surge,” says Auckland Business Chamber CEO, Michael Barnett noting that the criteria for the support payments has been lifted marginally to 40 per cent downturn in turnover.

“The three $4000 payments plus $400 for each FTE over the six-week period will cover, we estimate, up to 70 per cent of an average SME’s outgoings.”

Mr Barnett said the government rescue package recognised that enterprises had done everything they could, pivoting, restructuring, transforming service and supply models to become more efficient and moving to the digital world and ecommerce.

“Business has kept on keeping on and this package will give fresh hope that they will ride this latest uncertainty and challenges caused by the rules around isolation and testing.”

For more information, please call Bryce Heard on 021926812

Chief Executive Rotorua Chamber




Thursday 17 February (Give us RATs for the good of families, businesses, and the economy)

Stay at home isolation rules are breaking the backbone of our economy as SMEs are crippled by worker absenteeism because the government has determined who and what sectors can access rapid antigen tests (RAT).

“For the good of families, the good of business and the good of the economy, let’s get some clarity over who is a close contact and needs to isolate, and those who could be at work if only they could access a daily RAT,” says Auckland Business Chamber CEO, Michael Barnett.

“It is untenable to punish business and cut off their earnings because of health officials’ tardiness in ensuring these return-to-work tests are available in mass supply for all like they are in other countries living with the virus.”

Mr Barnett noted that RATs are going to be used at testing stations and made more widely available “to those who fit the appropriate clinical criteria” while the economy chokes from a de facto closedown.

“Government, you need to engage with business and tell us when and how we will have access to RATs and any other testing technology to get every worker back on the job. This is essential and critical to recovery,” he said.

For more information, please contact Michael Barnett on 027 563 1150

Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Business Chamber



Thursday 17 February (Every Business Is Critical, Every Worker Is Essential)

Chambers across New Zealand have stated clearly that every business is essential, and every worker is critical to their family and their place of work.
Every employee and employer should have access to Rapid Antigen Testing and following a daily test where required be able to front up to work every day.
Without this, businesses will face closure due to staff shortages and others will face failure due to loss of revenue.
Government must understand this and respond urgently, will you help us get this message to the Government?

If yes click here.




Monday 6 December 2021 (Courtesy of Cooney Lees Morgan Tauranga)

The Traffic Light System Explained

Most workplaces will be able to operate at all levels of the framework, provided that they comply with the use of My Vaccine Pass where required.

Hospitality, events, gatherings, close contact businesses and gyms (Pass Required Businesses) must require all persons entering the premises to scan their My Vaccine Pass using the verifier app.

Businesses who are not excluded from doing so can opt into using the My Vaccine Pass system for entry to their premises, provided that they have undertaken a health and safety risk assessment to determine what work needs to be performed by vaccinated people, and implemented those requirements for employees at their workplace.

These businesses can then require anyone entering their workplace to provide their My Vaccine Pass as an entry requirement to the business as a health and safety control measure. Some businesses have already started contacting clients and suppliers to advise them that their My Covid Pass must be scanned in order to enter their premises under the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

What do the different traffic lights mean for businesses?

GREEN:
At the ‘green light’ setting all workplaces and retail outlets can open.

There are no limits on Pass Required Businesses provided they are using the vaccine certificate system. If they are not, limits of up to 100 people with 1m distancing apply.

ORANGE: Under the ‘orange light’ setting all workplaces can open.

Retail can open with capacity limits based on 1m distancing. There are no limits on Pass Required Businesses provided they are using the vaccine certificate system.

If they are not using vaccine passes:

  • Hospitality = cannot open, contactless services only
  • Gatherings = limit of up to 50 people with 1m distancing
  • All other close contact businesses, gyms and events are not allowed

RED:  Under the ‘red light’ setting all workplaces can open, but working from home is encouraged.

Retail can open with capacity limits based on 1m distancing.

Limits on Pass Required Businesses provided they are using the vaccine certificate system are:

  • Hospitality and Events = up to 100 people seated, with 1m distancing
  • Gatherings and Gyms = up to 100 people, with 1m distancing
  • Close contact businesses = public health requirements in place
  • Tertiary education = 1m distancing

If they are not using the vaccine certificate system:

  • Hospitality = can’t open, contactless services only
  • Gatherings limits of up to 10 people
  • Tertiary education = distance learning only
  • All other close contact businesses, gyms and events are not allowed.

For the full framework breakdown, visit the Unite Against COVID-19 website. 

Who can’t use My Vaccine Pass Pass as an entry requirement for their business?

Basic needs services, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, health and disability services and primary and secondary education facilities cannot ask for proof of verification status and will not require an NZ Pass Verifier.

New Risk Assessment Tool

The tool provides a legal framework to help businesses make decisions about vaccinations in the workplace. It builds on the existing guidance provided by WorkSafe and specifies four key factors, at least three of which must be met before it would be reasonable to require vaccination for particular work.

The key factors are:

  1. Workers are in an area with less than 100m2indoor space
  2. Workers work less than 1m apart from other people
  3. Workers are routinely near others for more than 15 minutes
  4. That the workers provide services to people vulnerable to COVID-19

The new process doesn’t override risk assessments that businesses have already carried out under the existing health and safety guidelines. Businesses can choose which tool they use, and any assessments performed to date remain valid.

What should you do if you are unsure about your options?

The current legal landscape for businesses dealing with vaccination issues is a potential minefield for the unwary. Legal advice should be sought as early as possible on the options that are best for your business, and how to manage the transition into the new framework. For further information please contact your legal advisor.

Other helpful links:



These short updates are aimed at offering a simple interpretation of the “rules” surrounding business managers, as we navigate through the minefield that has been presented to us by COVID 19.

Some Key Dates
29 November:  Cabinet will confirm the decision to move Auckland and the rest of New Zealand into the new traffic light system.
2 December: At 11:59 pm, all of New Zealand will move to the COVID-19 Protection Framework. Auckland will move to Red and settings for the rest of New Zealand are yet to be decided on.

Traffic Light System Simplified
1)Green - Not many cases in the community and the health system can cope
-Scan QR codes and wear a mask when indoors at public places. Near normal freedom otherwise, subject to being vaccinated. Vaccine certificates are key. Number and spacing limits imposed on gatherings if they are not vaccine certificate compliant. Travel within NZ is ok.

2)Orange – More/many cases in the community, health system busy but coping.
-Scan QR codes and wear a mask when indoors at public places. Spacing in public places one meter. Travel within NZ is ok. Vaccine certificates are key. If non-vaccinated, access can be limited to some places and a limit of 50 at non-vaccinated events with spacing.

3)Red – Many cases in the community and health systems are too stressed to cope.
-Scan QR codes and wear a mask when you leave home. Work from home if possible. No travel between some parts of NZ. Vaccine certificates are key. Some places can operate with vaccine certificates and limits on numbers. Maximum 100 people for vaccinated gatherings, with spacing.

If non-vaccinated many places cannot operate and gatherings are limited to 10 people.

Employment

  1. The Govt has mandated vaccines for certain workplaces and industries. This includes:
    -Border and managed isolation quarantine workers
    -Health and disability workers
    -Prison workers
    -Education sector workers
  1. Certain businesses legally must have processes in place to ensure customers and visitors who enter their business are vaccinated. Therefore, the staff on those businesses must also be vaccinated. These businesses include:
    -cafes, restaurants, bars,
    -event venues,
    -casinos,
    -concerts
    -aged care,
    -healthcare facilities (excluding patients)
    -hairdressers and barbers
    -exercise facilities
    -nightclubs
    -libraries
    -courts
    -local and central government agencies
    -social services providers with customer service counters.

Businesses with this mandate must have a way to check vaccine certificates for anyone entering.  Any staff in these businesses who are not vaccinated after 3 December must not come to work. There are new rules around what must happen with terminating their employment including giving them 4 weeks’ notice before termination.

  1. Workplaces can mandate vaccines if their risk assessment shows that is necessary. If businesses want to implement a mandate after having done a risk assessment they will need to draft and consult on a policy.  The Govt is rushing through a risk assessment framework which is due mid-Dec but meanwhile, we recommend consulting your legal or HR advisor for guidance. You can also visit: worksafe.govt.nz

Click here for a good summary of issues.

 

Thursday, 25 November 2021 - Education & training opportunities for future-focused, community-minded industries, in the new COVID world.

COVID-19 continues to change much of our daily lives and how we do business. Many industries have successfully adapted to remote working, staying connected online, and conducting business in accordance with new social distancing guidelines and health measures.  Emerging from such challenging times is an opportunity – this pandemic presents a unique chance to reflect on how we all need to evolve in the new world we now find ourselves in.

For the education sector, we know things will not go back to the way they were pre-pandemic. We also know we need to look to the future and reimagine how we work, learn, and teach going forward. With more Kiwis returning to our shores, and the high demand for skilled workers in local industries, we find ourselves able to bridge the training and workforce gap for our communities. By offering quality, accessible education and upskilling opportunities for our people, we ensure that our rohe has the right people for the right jobs.

COVID-19 may have prompted people to reassess their careers and the choices they have; this is where applied and vocational higher education and training come in. Toi Ohomai, as a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga, is training the next generation of our essential workers; our nurses, our teachers, those who are vital to our workforce and our communities. Using the latest technologies, techniques, and teaching practices, we can apply what we have learned during this pandemic to build adaptable and highly capable workforces for these future-focused industries. 

Since 2020, Toi Ohomai has seen increased domestic enrolments, with many choosing to upskill or retrain. We have also proudly worked with organisations affected by the pandemic, including the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA), Te Arawa Group Holdings, Te Tatau o Te Arawa, and Tauhara North No. 2 Trust, in a bid to retrain staff to enable them to gain management and leadership jobs.

Toi Ohomai remains committed to the rohe in which we operate and is passionate about supporting industries and community to rebuild after such uncertain times. Although life will not be the same, the next generation of workers will bring new skills and insights learned through a time of challenge. This new era of graduates will be invaluable change agents as we look to the future with passion, purpose, and Manaakitanga in our hearts and minds.  

Leon de W Fourie
Chief Executive Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology
Rotorua Business Chamber Board Member

Friday, 19 November 2021 - Health & Wellness Services, Message from CEO to members.

We all may be encountering different levels of stress in our businesses, from shop floor to owners, as each of us tries to navigate our respective pathways through the maze of uncertainty that is COVID 19. We have never encountered anything quite like this in our lifetimes and no one has all the answers.

The Rotorua Business Chamber exists to facilitate business to business networking and matchmaking aimed at helping members.

Among our members, we have organisations that specialise in providing a range of Health and Wellness related services. We are seeking to match members who have a need for such services, with providers of these services.

To this end, we are planning to supply a list of providers out to members, and on our website, to help with facilitation and matchmaking.

If you are a Health and Wellness provider who would like to be a part of this project, can you please provide us with:
  1. Your business name and contact details (address, phone, website, and email)
  2. A brief (25–40 words summation) of the services provided
  3. Your service delivery preferences (one to one, small groups, larger workshop type of gatherings, on-line, etc.)
  4. An expression of any interest you may have in running group type of events in association with the Chamber
Respond to: charlie@rotoruachamber.co.nz

*NOTE: For businesses that are registered as providers under the Regional Business Partnership - there may be a government subsidy available for some of these services.

With appreciation for your assistance with this important matter.
Nga mihinui koutou

Bryce Heard
CEO


 

Friday, 17 September 2021- Bryce C Heard Letter to Ministers Re MIQ Facilities in Rotorua

Tena koutou Prime Minister and Ministers

MIQ services at Rotorua

My board has asked me to write and advise you of the very strong reaction that the Rotorua Business Community is expressing, against MBIE’s plans to add more MIQ hotel services in Rotorua.

We recognize the essential nature of the service, the need to provide space for New Zealanders overseas to return home (along with essential workers and their families) and we also appreciate the hard mahi that Auckland is doing at the present time.

Our understanding of the present situation is that the following cities are carrying the MIQ load for New Zealand.

Auckland        17        Population      1,572,000

Christchurch  6          Population     383,000

Hamilton        3          Population     177,000

Rotorua          3          Population     70,000

Wellington     2          Population     215,000

The concentration of MIQ’s in Rotorua is clearly much higher than any other city per head of population and this is putting an unacceptable level of pressure on our city services, including and especially Lakes District Health Board. It is our understanding that if just five people were to be admitted to Rotorua Hospital with Covid, our health facility would be considered to be dangerously overwhelmed.

Other larger cities than Rotorua, such as Tauranga (151,000), Dunedin (126,00) and Napier (116,000), among others, are not carrying any share of this national contribution to the COVID effort.

Additionally, Rotorua’s prime economic driver is (or was) Tourism. This is not so of any of the other major cities in NZ, (except Queenstown who only has 23,000 people).

As a part of our COVID recovery plan, the Rotorua tourism and hospitality sector have accelerated their efforts to attract and deliver major events and conferences in the city.  This has been working well and is utilizing our excellent facilities and chain of eleven higher-end hotels and providing a much-needed boost to our local economy. Of the city's eleven hotels, three are already taken by MIQ and any further losses will seriously undermine the recovery strategy.

As a related aside, a large amount of Rotorua commercial accommodation is currently occupied with emergency housing, which has created a number of economic and social issues.

In totality, the business sector is carrying an immense load as we seek to survive and recover through COVID and there are undeniable signs that our limit has been exceeded. Casualties are now occurring among our membership of 500 businesses, and elsewhere as well.

At the same time, the presence of MIQ facilities in our city means we have an extremely high risk of a community outbreak of the virus in an extremely vulnerable population.  An additional MIQ facility would increase this risk exponentially.

At our board meeting on Tuesday 14th September, concerns around a potential fourth MIQ was discussed, followed by a vote. Eleven members were opposed to more MIQ in Rotorua and one member abstained for conflicting reasons.

We would like to acknowledge and thank Tamati Coffey for attending that hui to provide an update on a range of different topics, including MIQ.

In summary, Rotorua is doing more than its share to contribute to the national COVID effort and feels very strongly that enough is enough.

We appreciate your consideration of our situation.

Ma te mihi ki o whakaaro

Bryce Heard

Chief Executive

Rotorua Business Chamber

 

Friday, 10 September 2021- New Zealand Business Should Celebrate

Today Government injected $430m into the NZ economy to assist business in meeting the cost of overheads during lockdown.

There is also the prospect of two further payments so long as the conditions that trigger the resurgent support payment still apply. (A prospect of a total of more than $1b.)

Bryce Heard from Rotorua Business Chamber said he was delighted with the outcome. We were hearing stories of desperation from business. The Auckland Chamber led a petition to Government for additional business support. That petition received close to 60,000 supporters.

Heard said, “The Chambers worked alongside other business organisations with our petition.”

We had a positive hearing from Minister Robertson and Minister Nash and are delighted with the result.”

  

Monday, 23 August - Back in Lockdown

It is a bitter blow to business and the whole of society, to be back in lockdown. Any COVID in the community, is by definition, a failure of the border control system. But here we are, so let’s do this lockdown properly and get it over with. NSW has shown us how NOT to do it in a half-hearted manner. The consequences to us will be similar if we are half-hearted about complying with the rules. This bug is vicious and takes no prisoners.

At the Chamber we are all working from home and doing our best to keep members informed of the situation regarding employment and government support available. We are posting on FB, running webinars, and maintaining updated info on our website.

Events are being temporarily postponed as necessary, but we are working with an expectation that everyone will play their part and we will get back to something resembling “normal” in a short space of time.

In the context of “everyone playing their part” we mean both the public and the border control/government in this team of 5 million, that makes up our country. The Prime Minister is urging us all to follow the rules and we are 100% behind her! We in turn urge government to speed up the national vaccination process and tighten up the border controls please.

Meantime, stay safe and feel free to call us for any support you may need.

Bryce and the team at the Chamber.

Friday, 13 August 2021 - Annual General Meeting 2021

The Annual General Meeting for the Rotorua Business Chamber was held at the Pullman, Rotorua, on Thursday, 5 August.
Chamber President, Kiri Tahana, said: “Our membership is diverse with broad and varied interests. Our challenge is to advocate for the collective interest."
Her Worship, the Mayor of Rotorua, Hon Steve Chadwick, spoke on how Rotorua has come together and thrived through trying times during the past year.
Bryce C Heard, Chief Executive of the Chamber, reported on another year of stellar growth for the Chamber and thanked members and sponsors for their extraordinary support over the year.

The Rotorua Business Chamber is delighted to announce the newly elected board members for 2021:

  • Bruce Thomasen

  • Miriam Hewson

  • Dr Leon Fourie

  • Brent Whibley

  • Geoff Rice

  • Kiri Tahana

  • Jacky James

  • Glenn Tasker

Co-opted board members are:

  • Frank Zhou

  • Michelle Urquhart

  • John McRae

  • Annie Canning

 

Monday, 19 July 2021 - Immigration New Zealand continue to struggle with the impact of COVID19

Last week’s announcement about the relaxation of the rules for employer supported Essential Skills work visas has highlighted the ongoing impact of COVID19 on a beleaguered Immigration New Zealand.

Dropping the requirement for labour marketing testing, proof of character and health compliance and employment agreements for migrant staff who wish to continue to work for their current employer is a welcome respite for employers desperate to retain skilled staff.  Also welcome is the extension of visas for lower-skilled workers from a 12 month period to 24 months.  However, these changes have delayed the rollout of the much-lauded Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) scheme, initially announced back in 2019.

This scheme will split the single application process for an employer-specific work visa into 3 checks, 2 of which will be employer-driven.  Any employer wanting to employ migrants on a work visa will have to be accredited first.  The way an employer will meet the labour market test will also be changed and for businesses in Rotorua it will become easier to comply.

Originally due to begin on 1 November 2021, last week’s announcements have meant there will be a lower uptake of visas under the new scheme, according to the Minister of Immigration Chris Faafoi.  He said that as a result, the AEWV scheme will be delayed until 2022.

The changes to the existing work visa scheme have been made under the special powers given to the Minister under the COVID19 emergency legislation passed in the wake of the 2020 lockdown.  These emergency measures allow for a quicker response to the pandemic’s ongoing ramifications.

What last week’s announcement also demonstrates is that these ramifications are not diminishing and that New Zealand’s migration policymakers are struggling to be proactive.  This struggle is starkly illustrated by the ongoing silence by the Minister about what is happening with the residence programme.  Whilst these short term measures are a sensible response, there is no long term solution in sight for migrants and employers who are seeking certainty.  Immigration New Zealand has a long way to go before things are back on track as they should be.

Michelle Urquhart

Associate: Tompkins Wake

Rotorua Business Chamber Board Member

  

Monday, 21 June 2021 - The Changing Business Landscape

Over the last year, many business owners will have experienced significant disruption, but also opportunity. I am reminded of a quote by Charles Darwin; ‘It is not the strongest who survive, nor the most intelligent, it is the one that is most adaptable to change’.

This is true for businesses and the technological revolution that continues to change the way we live, work, and relate to one another and is anticipated to see greater change in the next five years than the last two hundred years. Artificial intelligence (the simulation of cognitive behaviour where computers will make decisions, solve problems, and understand human communication) is anticipated by 2025 to 2030. This technology will help many businesses meet our customers’ increasing requirement for convenience, however, is anticipated to drive improved focus on our team and our culture, as the way people want to work will change.

As business owners, we have a responsibility to our teams to prepare our businesses for the future. Last year’s disruption probably meant that our traditional Business Plan went into the delete file as our focus moved to creating a new vision and purpose that would enable our businesses to compete in a different future. In these changing and less certain times, having a vision for our businesses and our team is important, however, equally important is an engaged team who will make your vision happen. Advice to me was that if I am not measuring team engagement, then I am not serious about it and - through digital survey tools - I should ask our team the following question several times each year:

 ‘On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend XYZ Company as a place to work/or recommend XYZ Company to a friend or colleague?’

The results will correlate to whether we achieve our vision or not. I hope the advice I received will help other businesses.

Glenn Tasker

Director: Quest Rotorua

Rotorua Business Chamber Board Member

 

 

Wednesday, 21 April 2021 - We simply need more houses

When we get an undersupply of any item, the price goes up. This is a basic fact of economics.

We have a chronic shortage of houses in this country, which successive governments have failed to address. Accordingly, the price of houses has continued to go up - and many people cannot now afford to buy a house, not just first home buyers.

When house prices go up, rent goes up as well, because the seller of the rental space must recover his/her costs - or go out of business.

When rent goes up, some can no longer afford the higher prices. The direct result of higher rent is homelessness.

The chronic housing shortage is the common driver of it all.

This is being obfuscated by misguided information and choice of words in the media about “homelessness is a deeply rooted problem”, “closing tax loopholes”, focussing on first home buyers not being able to afford a house, “bright-line tests” (read capital gains tax) and “greedy landlords” – to name just a few, recently in the media.

We simply need more houses.

Rotorua is at the forefront of this shortage.

When we get enough houses, house prices will come down, rents will come down, homelessness (and the associated issues with that) will all come down. A semblance of normality will resume.

Many of the houses that are being built were being built by the much-maligned “property investors”. By closing the so-called “loophole” we have made our NZ residential property owners probably the only business in the world, who are not allowed to claim the interest on their business as a legitimate tax-deductible expense. We have also discouraged the building of new houses and further added to the shortage, thereby fuelling further house and rental costs.

The introduction of a capital gains tax could not come at a worse time. Capital gains taxes have a place, but we should be helping the only group who can cure the housing shortage, rather than penalising them for helping.

Bryce C Heard

CEO: Rotorua Business Chamber