Govt extends financial support for quake-hit businesses

5:53 am on 13 April 2017

The government is set to extend its financial support of businesses affected by the Kaikōura earthquake.

The earthquake support subsidy was offered to businesses in Kaikoura, Hurunui and Marlborough following the November earthquake and was set to expire at the end of April.It will be replaced by a business recovery grants programme.

Kaikoura main street 19 January 2017.

Kaikoura's main street post-earthquake. Photo: RNZ / Joelle Dally

The news comes as some businesses in Cheviot face tough decisions about their financial viability, with or without the government support.

Easter is normally the busiest time of the year for businesses in Cheviot but locals said ongoing repairs to quake-damaged State Highway 1 mean it won't not even come close to reaching the capacity of previous levels.

Lyn Turner co-owns the Cheviot Tea Rooms with her husband Phil, and said they would keep trading but were not looking forward to winter.

"That possibly is our biggest worry at this point to get through... it seems like an eternity. It is only possibly three or four months of major downturn but it's just to get through those three to four months that the hardest thing we're looking at the moment."

She said there was no use running the business if you could not cover overheads or staffing costs and after Easter they would have to look at staffing levels.

"I also feel I have a wonderful staff and I'm very grafetul for the girls that work for me and I do not want to see them go."

Two Rivers Cafe

Two Rivers Cafe Photo: Debbie Anderson

Owner of Two Rivers Cafe, Debbie Anderson, said people never knew if State Highway 1 was open or closed and that impacted on people making the effort to visit.

She said businesses need to get the message out to Christchurch again that they needed their support.

"We are suffering from even less customers... it's getting worse rather than better to be honest. It would normally drop off a little bit after Easter anyway but it's certainly dropped off more than I expected. It's pretty quiet in Cheviot especially on days the road is closed."

She said they have not laid any staff off because of the government's financial assistance package, but she knew other businesses in town were worse off.

Jane Thompson is on the committee of Cheviot Promotions and is encouraging people to visit over Easter, where visitors could expect discounts, promotions and no surcharge.

She said it was looking deadly quiet for most businesses in town.

"There are some businesses that have benefited from the quake, that's always the way in these situations. Some accommodation places are really busy. But the B&Bs where the tourists normally stay are not so busy. The majority of businesses do rely on that passing traffic.''

A statement from the office of the Minister for Economic Development, Simon Bridges, said the earthquake support subsidy would end on 30 April and would be replaced by a business recovery grants programme that would support those that require ongoing assistance with their recovery.

The government has approved $1 million to be used by the programme that will target the businesses in Kaikōura, Hurunui and Marlborough that needed it most.

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