11 Oct 2017

Buller feels strain of jobs drain

1:23 pm on 11 October 2017

The departure of some large companies from the Buller district is putting a strain on the number of community groups needing sponsorship, the mayor says.

Mayor Garry Howard outside the Buller District Council office in Westport.

Mayor of Buller District Garry Howard Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Garry Howard said 1500 jobs had been lost since Holcim Cement and the mining groups Solid Energy and OceanaGold pulled out of the West Coast community.

Mr Howard said these large businesses provided financial support to sports teams and charitable groups in the district.

"With those [businesses] no-longer opperating, in the Buller District ... we've got this big hole in funding for community groups," he said.

Mr Howard said it was vital for the community's well-being these services continued and the council was looking at how that could be done.

"We're just trying to look at ways that we can attract funding for them," he said.

The Kawatiri New Zealand Riding for the Disabled Group, based in Westport, is not government-funded and relies the support of the community - both for volunteers and donations.

Its treasurer, Jenny Reynolds, said this year it had been particularly difficult to pull funds together, but she did not know if that was directly related to the lack of available corporate sponsorship in the area.

Ms Reynolds said the fact that there weren't many large businesses in the community did mean there were fewer places they could go for support.

"We don't want to be banging on [smaller] businesses doors, because we know they're struggling," she said.

Ms Reynolds said Buller District Council had given it a $1000 grant so it could retain its qualified riding coach while it looked at further funding options.

Mr Howard said the district must diversify its economy so it was not reliant on a handful of large businesses.