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Tourism is the elephant in the living room

Written By: - Date published: 7:10 am, April 9th, 2020 - 148 comments
Categories: climate change, covid-19, Economy, sustainability, tourism - Tags: ,

RNZ are reporting,

The government has announced plans to transform tourism and how it is governed in the wake of the pandemic.

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said the industry needed to be rebooted to face new challenges, opportunities and a different way of working.

Tourism New Zealand will lead the project, working with the government, industry and businesses.

“A post-Covid tourism industry will play an important role in New Zealand’s economic recovery, but it will be different to the one that we are accustomed to. There will be new challenges, new opportunities and a new way of working,” Davis said.

“We have an opportunity to rethink the entire way we approach tourism to ensure that it will make New Zealand a more sustainable place, enrich the lives of all our people and deliver a sector which is financially self-sustaining in the longer term.

“Given international travel is likely to be heavily restricted for some time, and features of our tourism industry such as cruise ships are currently banned, this will need to be a phased approach, looking at how we can focus on and promote domestic tourism in the short term and how we can target an international offering.

They’re making some of the right noises here, but I remain skeptical of commitment from those powerholders to creating something sustainable. The tourism industry is notorious for its head in the sand response to climate change. The over-development of some of our most special places suggests that the industry has been willing to trade away intrinsic values and create a degraded experience for New Zealanders (especially locals) in order to pursue growth and excess profit.

Generalised statements of intent are one thing, but how easy will be it be to change the culture of that sector so that it adopts actual sustainable practice rather than greenwashing?

Then there is this,

Tourism New Zealand chief executive Stephen England-Hall said it was an opportunity to listen to communities and design the future of tourism in New Zealand.

“We’ll be working with key partners to ask questions, listen, and create something we can all be proud of, something that genuinely gives back more than it takes to Aotearoa and plays a key role in our economic success,” he said.

Again, some right noises, but the cynic in me isn’t holding my breath. If they put communities front and centre, maybe this would work. Better yet, the government could empower communities to drive their own economic regeneration, starting with values and a conversation about what kind of communities we want, and then designing jobs out from that, some of which might be tourism. But I suspect the economy will be centred, with workers and the environment as support structures for that, albeit some greens on the side of the plate.

Coronavirus is unlikely to be our last pandemic. Oil shocks, Peak Oil, a global financial crisis, a post-carbon economy, climate disasters, and a societal shift away from flying are all other ways in which mass tourism, or even high end tourism, could fail again. It’s bad enough that NZ is reliant to the extent it is, but there are many towns in NZ who are seriously dependent on summer and ski tourism for large parts of their local economies, and that is now coming back to bite them. The solution here is to create localised economies that feed the community and that are designed around resiliency in supporting people to make a living rather than being growth and profit driven.

Davis may be signalling here a belated move to the oft referenced but seldom acted upon targeted tourism, where instead of bulk tourists (campervans and tour buses), we have fewer, richer visitors who spend more while they are here.  But there is a missed opportunity in this, which is to integrate tourism into a broader approach of regeneration in a covid world. Instead of saving tourism, what if we focused on creating resilient communities. High end, and domestic tourism might have a role to play in serving that, but it shouldn’t be the starting point.

Things we could consider:

  1. if a primary concern here is jobs, we have a huge amount of work to be done on climate mitigation and adaptation. Huge. This is where we should be creating jobs next. Convert that country lodge into residences for local workers who want to restore native forests or do regenerative farming. Perhaps student accommodation for new courses that teach young people trade or business skills in sustainability or resiliency. 
  2. put incentives or regulation in place to encourage people to repurpose their AirBnB houses back to long term rentals for locals. Make this the priority. If there are spare houses after that, then look at how they might best be used to support the local economy. It might be domestic tourism, but it might be something else instead.
  3. have councils audit their rohe for sustainability needs, including climate mitigation/adaptation and ecological restoration. Put industry heads together, cross-sector, on how to create long term jobs to manage that. Think about supporting self-employment, small businesses and collectives as well as work supported by minimum wage (but make that a living wage too). Empower the local economy rather than the big players.
  4. do high end, 1%er lodges if we must, but recreate holiday accommodation that is based around actual sustainability. Slow travel, reinstating traditional kiwi holidays that are place not travel based. Camping grounds where you get to plant trees (native or food bearing) and your kids get to see them grow each year when they return, and eventually they bring their own kids their on holiday.
  5. Tourism where the values are in what we can give to a place not just what we take from it. Pair our desire to visit places with the emerging climate action values around biodiversity and ecological restoration. 
  6. Empower sustainability experts, including grass roots, into the places of power where decisions are being made and new systems are being designed. It’s very clear that Tourism NZ has failed to meaningfully transition the industry to sustainability and climate mitigation. Keep the best of those business leaders, but bring in fresh blood from other sectors including those traditionally locked out but who have a wealth of experience in sustainable practice (again, this isn’t marketing greenwash, it’s the people that know how to design from the ground up).

Lake Te Anau (photo by Rob Suisted)

148 comments on “Tourism is the elephant in the living room ”

  1. Wayne 1

    Just about all the work you specify doesn't generate any revenue, it would all be a cost to the government. While some of these things will be OK short term, the reality is that new sources of revenue will have to be found in the medium long term.

    As it is the cost of govt is going to go through the roof. The biggest challenge NZ will face over the next five years will be generating jobs in the productive economy, that is jobs that generate revenue as opposed to only being a cost, albeit with non revenue benefits.

    • weka 1.1

      Why can't some of those things generate revenue (most of them in fact)? Regenerative food production certainly can, people already do this. Farmers already pay people to plant trees, nurseries already run businesses to supply the trees. Long term rentals generate revenue.

      A lot of climate mitigation can be merged into the income generating economy, we just need the creative people who know how to do this to be part of this process and not rely solely on the existing paradigm/processes. It's the locking out of people with sustainability design skills that is holding us back. I'd feel more confident about Davis' proposal if I thought it wasn't going to be run by the same people that have created the problem in the first place.

    • Ad 1.2


      Reviving tourism in a narrower but higher-yield form is one economic policy area that National and Labour could easily agree on for the whole country. Our brand has been so good for so long because that has been the case already.

      There will be plenty of unemployed forestry gangs out there who want to go and do good on seasonal restoration projects. That doesn't constitute a holiday for anyone.

      The air flights will be fewer for a while, and no one in New Zealand will be thinking about a holiday outside the country for quite some time.

      • KJT 1.2.1

        Internal tourism is one way of getting jobs going in New Zealand.

        However we need the cash in peoples hands to spend. Putting them to work in Weka's ideas, and others, gets people working and earning, and spending, and paying taxes, locally.

        So many more people employed in jobs that used to be filled by temporary visa workers, and back packers, could re-vitalise rural communities.

        Even the US republicans have finally figured out that "money printing" because banks won't expand the money supply without guaranteed profit, is essential.

        • weka

          yeah, I've been wondering about all those jobs that we've used migrant labour for, both people on working holidays and people from poor countries needing work. There needs to be a push for those workplaces and industries to pay a living wage and give jobs to residents now, and retraining if necessary.

          The problem with trying to replace international tourists with domestic ones in the same old tourism model is that someone flying/driving from Auckland to the Catlins for a week is directly against climate mitigation. We need a different model.

        • Ad

          You need to go back and have a good read of The Sugarbag Years.

          This documented life in New Zealand during the Depression.

          Plenty of people were put on temporary work schemes – they were paid enough to keep alive and not more. What such schemes do is mop up some of the otherwise indolent gangs of unemployed people and put them to some good use. They aren't the people paying for holidays.

          Back-packers who used to do fruit harvesting are going to get replaced in short order by machine harvesting – even grapes (unless there is an exceptionally good vintage). The restaurants and bars they used to wait in are dead: no one can afford to eat out.

          Weka is trying to make green restoration the source of a new tourism industry. First off, that's not a holiday. Second, it's paid peanuts.

          I think what Weka is fishing around for is a kind of national service.

          It's what the U.S. did under Roosevelt's New Deal.

          • KJT

            No. What she is looking at is reviving mutually dependant work within the local economy.

            The problem with those work schemes, was that they never actually were paid enough, to revitalise the local economy, immediately.
            Noting that many have been good at supplying long term infrastructure and investment. We are still relying on infrastructure from those times.
            Which is why most countries never really came out of the depression until the huge expansion in, still Government funded, work schemes, war production!

            Incident. Roosevelts new deal did add up to a number of high paid jobs. And greatly increased prosperity for places like Tennessee.

            • RedLogix

              The problem with those work schemes, was that they never actually were paid enough, to revitalise the local economy, immediately.

              Because fundamentally they are such low value, low productivity jobs they cannot revitalise any economy. They are barely more revenue generating work impoverished peasants everywhere can do; they are not the foundation for nation building.

              I'm not saying these jobs aren't worth doing, there is a legitimate and respectable role for work that restores the environment … but that it's a luxury service a poor nation cannot afford to pay well for.

              • KJT

                That shows a lack of understanding, of what drives economic transactions, so profound, that I'm not even going to bother to reply.

                • RedLogix

                  If you have nothing useful to say it's best not to advertise the fact.

                  • KJT

                    If you don't understand, how putting more of the medium of exchange into a local economy, causes innovative people to find ways of earning it, it is best to be quiet.

                    Why do "Capitalists, have so little faith in "Capitalism"?

                    • weka

                      I guess I'm used to being around people that create their own work, work that they enjoy because they don't want to wage slavery, so it seems doable to me. Often those people choose that alongside living a lower consumption lifestyle, because the lifestyle they choose is more important to them than having lots of stuff or lots of money to spend on stuff. That's part of the values conversation right there. If we start with 'how will we pay for all the things' it's easy to get stuck in TINA. But if we start with 'what do we actually want?' then the options open up.

                    • RedLogix

                      I've nothing at particular against people 'making their own work locally'. But the crucial question is how productive will it be?

                      The default answer for most people will be … little better than subsistence peasant farming. That's a recipe for the kind of poverty which stalked humanity for most of its' existence.

                      The productivity that makes the modern world possible, like the computer and internet you are typing on, demands something far more sophisticated than this.

                    • KJT

                      You may find this interesting.


                      So many jobs that exist at the moment cost society and our resources more than they earn.

                      We would be better off paying them to stay home.

                      The current situation has certainly highlighted the jobs that are really, "productive".

                    • RedLogix

                      Yeah I've read that argument before. It's bullshit alright.

                      The core fallacy it falls into is confusing immediacy with utility. Yes subway workers can paralyse a city in one day, but when the commercial system goes away, the "private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants" … the impact is not immediate.

                      But over time, as you discover in places like China where there is no independent legal system with real capacity, you start to get corrosive problems that are more subtle and deep rooted in nature.

                      And as usual you fall into the boring reductionist trap of assuming that just because I can talk to the positives capitalism has brought us, that I'm discounting all of it's obvious flaws. I've lost count of how many times I've made the point that while it has brought us (collectively) an unprecedented wealth and hugely reduced absolute poverty, it has no inherent mechanism to ensure this wealth in optimally distributed … that while solving one problem, it has uncovered the other ancient problem of all economic systems … inequality.

                      My argument is based on the rather radical premise that inequality is less of a economic problem, than a moral one. It's is of course measured in money terms, or GINI coefficients, but the marxist solution of simply grabbing wealth from the rich and giving it to the poor is a proven failure. Monumentally so.

                    • KJT

                      The, not actually a "Marxist" idea, Adam Smith and many others favoured taxing the "rich" for redistribution. MJS called it, "Applied Christianity".

                      In fact it was done most effectively in the USA. Where 91% taxes on millionaires, for redistribution and State spending, made them the "most prosperous country in the world". With for a brief time, the worlds most numerous, productive and innovative middle class.

                      Marx’s variation is that he said it could only occur by Force. Of course Norway, the USA, and New Zealand, proved that all it needed, was enough returning troops determined to have a better life.

                    • RedLogix

                      Indeed the violent genocidal impulse of marxism was baked in from the beginning. Something his many accolytes still refuse to acknowledge.

                      And yes the 'applied Christianity' version worked reasonably well. But then we stopped believing in Christianity.

                    • KJT

                      No. We stopped believing in society.

                    • RedLogix

                      I can point to a coherent moral system that Christianity invokes. I cannot do the same thing for the word 'society'.

                      In this Thatcher was right, society has no independent reality, it is an outcome, a consequence … it has no innate existence. It has to be constructed on some philosophic or moral basis. In the West it was largely done on the back of Christianity and the Renaissance.

                      Then came the death of God.

                    • Incognito []

                      Hmmm, this is off-topic, but if society is an outcome, result or product of a complex system network of interacting individuals then so is the mechanistic mind and our consciousness the result of a complex network of loosely connected and interacting units that has grown through evolution. The differences between these networks are scale and level but they may be similar at a fundamental level. According to some …

              • KJT

                "Low value, low productivity jobs"

                Like working in tourism, for example?

                Most tourism workers are on minimum wage, or less.

                So. Presumably those are "low value, low productivity jobs?

                As Graeme has shown, many of these jobs are done by backpackers and temporary visa workers, so not even employing people who live here.

                • RedLogix

                  Pretty much. Tourism doth not a modern economy make … with some exceptions. In all of this thread I've not said much about tourism because like many others here, I agree that the way we've gone about it is probably a net negative for NZ.

                  Lots of cash churn yes, but where is the benefit landing up? And as a keen tramper I'm well aware of the degradation that sheer numbers has been having on some of our back country locations.

                • weka

                  Solution there: pay a living wage, employ locals first. Put those two values at the centre and then figure out how to create livelihoods around and from that. Starting with the business model we use now just makes people who work stock units with continual pressure to degrade their existence.

                  We don't actually need tourism. If our borders remained in lock down for the next decade, we could still feed, clothe, shelter, provide medicine, education and an enjoyable life for us all. It would just look very different. People are scared of that, but I'm inclined to think this is a failure of public and personal imagination.

                  • RedLogix

                    People are scared of that, but I'm inclined to think this is a failure of public and personal imagination.

                    For good reason. If the story you are selling them looks anything like the lives their grandparents, or earlier, had to live … they will reject the poverty and deprivation that came with it out of hand. People are right to fear such a reversion.

                    Here is a fact … since 1950 fully half the human race has experienced a 3 decade increase in life expectancy. Are you going to tell them they have to throw this away and go back to being horribly poor again?

                    Here's the rub … I'm not being antagonistic toward your sentiment here; I agree there is every reason to want to change the way we live and work. Contrary to what most people read in what I'm arguing for, I've never said I want BAU. I've consistently argued for constructive, positive change.

                    Your ideas tend to cluster around principles of locality, self sufficiency and eco-coherence. These are all truly worthwhile goals that I have little quibble with.

                    I've tended to come from a universal, globalist and eco-modernist perspective. I believe the left routinely underestimates just how much real human development has happened in the past 70 yrs and we should be a lot more careful about what aspects of this system we want to tear down or discard.

                    My instinct here is we are both part right and part wrong, and a synthesis of both points of view is the correct path forward.

          • weka

            Back-packers who used to do fruit harvesting are going to get replaced in short order by machine harvesting – even grapes (unless there is an exceptionally good vintage). The restaurants and bars they used to wait in are dead: no one can afford to eat out.

            So that's a choice. Instead of that we could transition to regenag, where people get to live good lives working on the land. That's what happens when you put people at the centre instead of the economy.

            Weka is trying to make green restoration the source of a new tourism industry. First off, that's not a holiday. Second, it's paid peanuts.

            No, I wasn't. I was saying don't start with tourism and trying to green(wash) it, but start with the communities and what they actually want and need. Some kind of tourism might be part of that, and I gave tourism examples mainly because people are so hooked on thinking that we have to have it that I wanted to show some examples of doing it differently. But my main point was that the industry has failed on sustainability and resiliency and trying to hack that in the age of covid is setting us up for more failure. We should redesign livelihood from scratch.

            I think what Weka is fishing around for is a kind of national service.

            Also wasn't thinking of that, although that could be a useful tool in transition. Generally, I'd favour empowering people rather than soft coercion.

            • Janet

              "I'd favour empowering people rather than soft coercion."

              Yes and UBI would be a good move now to kick off this empowerment.. It would provide the background necessities while an individual trialed and tested new directions and established themselves.

            • Janet

              "We should redesign livelihood from scratch."

              “Think about supporting self-employment, small businesses and collectives as well as work supported by minimum wage (but make that a living wage too). Empower the local economy rather than the big players.”

              Then remember all the small to medium sized businesses that have gone over the last twenty years, replaced by cheap and usually inferior imports because of “free trade “ agreements, Companies like Crown Lyn for example and nearly all of 3000 self employed NZ potters.

              Soon New Zealand flower growers ,for the same reasons.

              To diversify our workfields again and reopen new work opportunities for our young we need import control and restrictions. We need to work within the boundaries of our own economy and not short sightedly exploit the cheap products of others again.

              Tourism is prostituting New Zealand to the world. It is a fickle and unsustainable business entertaining the wealthy few of the world including the backpackers – children of the wealthy few. It compromises New Zealanders “enjoyment of their own country” Think no further than The Tongariro Crossing to start with…..


              • weka

                it's going to be really interesting to see if NZ has a discussion about import restrictions and the value of home grown industry. Is there a better balance to be had now? What would happen to existing trade agreements?

                The degree to which small businesses fail seems to be about the business model being used and the need to take excessive risk. What about we create more jobs around essential services and goods and protect them?

                • KJT

                  Import restrictions were a licence to print money, for a few individuals, who managed to talk the Government into giving them a licence.

                  Supporting local innovative, productive businesses to get up and running, is a different matter. As is, general import duties. Unfortunately, banned by "free trade" agreements.

                  One of the pro’s for a UBI, is that it gives people the space to be innovative and try business ideas, without the threat of losing absolutely everything, if it fails.

                  • RedLogix

                    One of the pro’s for a UBI, is that it gives people the space to be innovative and try business ideas, without the threat of losing absolutely everything, if it fails.

                    Once I got past fixating on the numbers and the technical elegance of a UBI this was my big reason for backing it as well. And in the most 'nonpoint scoring' manner possible, can I suggest that what you have said here closely aligns to where I've been talking about systems that strengthen personal agency and responsibility.

                    I realise the right has all too often twisted the meme of 'personal responsibility' into the wrong headed idea that ‘if you are poor it's all your fault’. And if you have reacted to this I can understand why.

                    All too often one of the worst symptoms of hyper-partisanship is that people on all sides will take a good idea and then just go too damn far with it.

                    • pat

                      "One of the pro’s for a UBI, is that it gives people the space to be innovative and try business ideas, without the threat of losing absolutely everything, if it fails."

                      Not in of itself…Financer's will still expect security and in the case of small business that is generally over property.

                      There are few businesses that dont require significant upfront funding

                    • RedLogix

                      True, but it doesn't negate the fact that the UBI safety net is fixed soundly in place, regardless of any other circumstances.

                      Given that a very high fraction of new businesses fail, putting your home, or family assets, at risk to finance one is fraught with bad consequences. Outside of my comfort zone I'm afraid; I've seen too many small franchisees in particular go through hell when it doesn't work out.

                    • KJT

                      Having actually been there.

                      I can tell you that the threat of WINZ , taking what's left, off you, if it fails, (You have to live on your savings and any assets the bank has left you) before you can access any help, is a big disincentive to starting a business.

                      Never got to that stage, fortunately, but came close for a bit.

                    • KJT

                      The sort of small businesses that drive most of NZ, don't need unreachable upfront funding.

                      It is more what you need to live on, as you get established.

                      UBI can help with that. And also with "sweat equity projects". Housing is one example.

                    • RedLogix


                      It's honestly a bit of a relief there is something we can totally agree on blush

                      I first encountered the UBI idea almost 20 yrs ago, and the more I've learned the more impressed I am. The real benefits are not measured in dollars but in self respect and autonomy.

                      I can only speak to my experience, but every person I ever met who was on a benefit, wanted nothing more than to be off it … not because of the money aspect so much … but they wanted to escape the stigma of it. Even if this shaming was self imposed; they still wanted out from under it.

                      By contrast, because a UBI is universal and a right, everyone is absolutely in the same position with respect to it and the 'shaming' aspect vanishes.

                  • weka

                    "One of the pro’s for a UBI, is that it gives people the space to be innovative and try business ideas, without the threat of losing absolutely everything, if it fails."

                    Ae, but welfare could do this too.

                    I was using the term import restrictions broadly. I think we are all talking about the government intervening in the market so that locally made is prioritised where that is useful to do so?

                    The other big issue here is to stop supporting other countries to keep upping their GHG emissions by providing us with cheap goods. With China looking to gear up its economy again, this is a very real danger, and a massive opportunity.

                    But yeah, cries of what would we do without our margarine.

                    • RedLogix

                      Ae, but welfare could do this too.

                      Could, but on observation it doesn't.

                      You could design welfare and a UBI to deliver exactly the same dollars to everyone regardless of circumstance … and I would pick the positive psychology of the UBI every time.

                    • KJT

                      We run into the problem of supporting locally made, is against "free trade agreements". One of the many reasons why I was so strongly opposed to the TPPA.

                      You, of course, are aware of societies different attitude to those on, say, the unemployment benefit, compared to super.

                      The idea that a UBI, is a National inheritance, like super, that we have all contributed to, one way or another, and all receive it, has a lot to recommend it.

                      We can certainly step a UBI, by adding more cohorts. For example starting with the UBI, we used to pay mothers, the family benefit.

                      Going immediately to a UBI, for everyone, starts raising cost issues, before we get the pluses.

                      Hopefully we will soon get some evidence from Spain, on how it can work in reality.

        • Wayne

          I have read most of the comments on the site. My wife would certainly say NZ should be pushing more into high value tourism/ However you can't really stop backpackers coming into NZ (beyond the next 12 to 18 months). When the global economy recovers they will be back. It is part of the youth experience, just as it is for young kiwis doing the OE.

          Yes, I get the New Deal aspects of the plan. Obviously some of that is going to happen, and probably for quite some time. However, they all have to be paid by the taxpayer. Yes, both they and the state buy stuff to make it happen. But the New Deal workers don't earn any revenue, unlike tourism, which does.

          So the plan does not really replace the $10 billion revenue lost from international tourism. Though our National Parks and DOC estate will be in better condition as a result of the plan.

          • KJT

            You are still only counting revenue from inbound tourism.

            Not the cost of servicing that tourism, and the revenue we gain from the reduction in outbound tourism.


            It is doubtful tourism flows, inbound and outbound, adds much, if any net revenue to New Zealand's National accounts. I've already supplied references for this.

            Replacing those jobs is the concern. Not the revenue, which will likely balance out.

            Domestic tourism and conservation workers still buy things and pay tax. The unemployed, don’t.

            • Stunned Mullet

              It is doubtful tourism flows, inbound and outbound, adds much, if any net revenue to New Zealand's National accounts. I've already supplied references for this.

              Can you supply them again as it doesn't sound reasonable to assume with so many tourists visiting NZ as a proportion of our population that this could possibly be correct, happy to be proved wrong though.

          • weka

            "However you can't really stop backpackers coming into NZ (beyond the next 12 to 18 months)."

            Why not? If we can do it now for covid reasons, why can we not have more control later for environmental and social justice reasons?

      • bwaghorn 1.2.2

        As soon as we hit level 3 those forestry crews will be back at work wont they? I read somewhere the other day china is back in the log buying game and any government building program will need wood especially if the jones boy gets local mills going like hes threatening.

    • KJT 1.3

      The same flawed view, that only things which make money directly are "productive".

      Which paradoxically, has led directly to the destruction of so much of our diverse money making, "productive" economy.

      And the lack of resilience which is biting us in the bum, now.

    • Forget now 1.4


      Are you going for the record on how many times you can type "revenue"in one brief comment?

      Why is simple gross income more important than the net gain of an economic activity? If one person pays me $1000 to burn my $100,000 house down, am I really better off in the long term than if I had curbed my spending and kept that vital asset? Which is not even counting the likelihood of an eventual arson charge.

    • Grafton Gully 1.5

      A productive economy that includes seabed mining. Nice to see further progress in this. https://www.nzx.com/announcements/351399

  2. Robert Guyton 2

    Tourists from overseas are a sugar-hit for body NZ – time we adopted a healthy diet.

    • Ad 2.1

      That's just a fucking cold sentiment for the tens of thousands of tourist workers who are now unemployed.

      The same kind of pitiless leftie claptrap that accompanied the announcement of the closure of Bauer and most of our magazines.

      And remarkably similar to Rogernmics when that government stripped away all import protections.

      • KJT 2.1.1

        Stating the obvious, doesn't mean unconcern for the people becoming unemployed.

        It is time we tried to develop long term industries, that don't rely on a level of use of resources, that was always going to be temporary.

        • Ad

          Apart from jet fuel, our international tourism is one of the least resource-intensive industries that we have ever had.

          As for developing long term industries, tourism built up here over a century, and accelerated in the early 2000s with Lord of the Rings and the growth of the Chinese market. It took multiple decades to build, and blithely waving another leftie want and expecting more industries to pop up in a year or two is just flat dumb.

          The tourism industry will be reborn, smaller, same themes, concentrating on richer people. They will still fly. And we will welcome them as we have always done, assisting them to depart with thousands per day.

          • weka

            "Apart from jet fuel, our international tourism is one of the least resource-intensive industries that we have ever had."

            Hmm, I'm thinking of the resources involved in providing accommodation (building hotels), transport (tour buses, rental cars, campervans), specialist roading (think the Milford Rd), souvenirs (largely imported), food (all sorts of issues there), power. It takes a lot to provide all that for an extra 4 million people a year.

          • KJT

            I think we have already established, that international tourism flows are not, a net earner for New Zealand.

            I'm pushing for domestic tourism to, at least, fill some of the gap, to keep people employed.

            It is simply reality that international tourism will not revive, soon.

            And long term the future is questionable, as we will have to adapt to less air travel to minimise Global warming.

            The choice is adapt, take the opportunity to adapt to less tourism, now, or do it more painfully in the future.

            • CrimzonGhost

              Elon's rocket ship will end up increasing tourism (shorter flight time so many more flights) while also possibly reducing carbon footprint overall flights (not as much fuel burnt as it breaks out of atmosphere then skips into orbit re-entering over destination). Half hour flight time to most destinations. Leave home and an hour later you're in the city of your choice.

      • RedLogix 2.1.2

        Precisely my reaction to Ad. Like so many lefties they do seem to take a secret glee in how many eggs they need to break to make their ideological omelette.

        • KJT

          Never miss a chance to have a dig at "Lefties".

          Projection. Eh?

          That has been a feature of the right, here, since 1984. The human toll of their ideology, which you seem to be a total convert, has been totally ignored.

          • RedLogix

            Nope wrong on the facts as usual.

            I'm crystal clear where I stand, strongly left on economic issues and middle of the road on the authoritarian/libertarian divide.

            I've never voted right in my life and never plan to. I voted Green at least four elections.

            On the other hand I absolutely reject the monomania that the left has with marxism and all it's bastard children. As the years go by I'm rejecting ideologies more than ever. As long as we are locked into an identity war with the right, nothing of lasting value will get done. Look to the hyper-partisanship of the USA to see precisely where that leads to; dysfunction and now mass deaths.

            What will make the difference is facts, numbers and evidence. This is what Ardern's govt has done, it listened to the medical experts and made the right call based on the evidence.

            Now I accept and understand that everyone will view evidence in different lights, everyone will place a different value weighting on facts and events. To make this work it demands both intellectual honesty and the willingness to listen to new ideas. Then re-balance when the ground shifts under you.

            The ground KJT has shifted since the 80's.

            • KJT

              Which is exactly what you are not doing.

              As a natural conservative, by profession and training, I've always focused on what works, as shown by evidence and facts.

              The sea doesn't believe in ideology and opinions. You get it right, or people die.

              You have repeated so many right wing ideological memes lately. "Deserving and undeserving poor" being just one of many, that it is obvious you have been caught up in ideological right wing economic propaganda.

              There are right wing people I have a lot of time for. But they have the same aims as me. Just different ideas on how to get there.

              Then there are the ones who are simply trying to justify and continue their own greed and privileged position, never mind who it harms.

              I'm no more "Marxist" than you are, but reading thinkers in economics is part of educating yourself about economics. I've read Freidman and Von Mises too, who's ideas, which have really been followed, have certainly caused as much destruction as Marxism, I don't agree with them either. But it extends understanding. Even when they state obvious fallacies.

              • RedLogix

                "Deserving and undeserving poor"

                That is in full quote marks. Link to where I exactly said that.

                • KJT

                  It is in quote marks because it is a meme.

                  You have reiterated it in different words, but that is what you were saying, in several comments.

                  It is one of many.

                  • RedLogix

                    So you accept I never said that.

                    But then you project it into a 'meme', a bullshit prevarication if I ever saw one.

                    All modern forms of 'identity politics' have their origin with Marx who as a bitter, resentful failure in his own personal life, posited a new form of the ancient 'drama triangle' … the oppressed workers, the persecuting bourgeoisie and the rescuing revolutionaries. The essence of the game is to allocate all agency to the persecutors and none to the victims. Then the rescuers get to shame the persecutors and thereby steal a zombie validation to make up for their own personal failure.

                    And the victims who the rescuers only pretend to care about, generally work this out very quickly and loath the patronising use to which they are being put. It's notable that where marxism was tried, the actual working classes wanted little to do with it.

                    Any ideology that robs any group of their agency, is intentionally weakening them as people. Yes life is difficult for the poor, there are many good reasons why being at the bottom of the social heap is tough. And every reason to want to help them move upward from there … but you can only help a person who is strong enough to be helped.

                    This isn't some bullshit reductionist argument; it simply says that if you actually care about the weak and dispossessed the first step is to stop making them weaker. To acknowledge and respect their agency as people, to stop condescending to them and listen to them as people.

                    Not as victims.

                    • KJT

                      I could go back and detail all the right wing memes you have supported in the last month.

                      But. I'm not going to be that obsessive.

                      The idea that the poor are poor because it is their own fault, and the corollary, which is comforting to the conscience of the rich, that the rich have more merit or are more "responsible" and the poor should be given "the agency", but not, obviously, the money required to pull themselves out of poverty, is one of the more, evil, right wing tropes.

                    • RedLogix

                      It's a basic rule that you cannot help someone who is not willing to take responsibility to help themselves. This is not evil, it's reality.

                      Twisting it into "idea that the poor are poor because it is their own fault" is dishonest bullshit that puts words into my mouth.

                      If anyone else other than one of the 'protected species of uber righteous lefties' around here was to do this on such a consistent basis there would be consequences.

                      There are right wing people I have a lot of time for. But they have the same aims as me. Just different ideas on how to get there.

                      Self deluding bullshit. This thread is perfect evidence of it.

              • bill

                There are right wing people I have a lot of time for. But they have the same aims as me. Just different ideas on how to get there.

                I believe that's becoming quite a popular realisation among people – and a good example of the left/right having common ground is Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjet on Hill TV's "Rising" programme. (Worth checking out)

      • bwaghorn 2.1.3

        Yeah we should just let those polluting tourists pay a little more and wipe out rural nzs way of life by planting them out it existence.

      • weka 2.1.4

        that would only be true if Robert, or lefties, didn't give a shit about jobs (neither are true). For those of used to health metaphors, being able to make a living is part of 'healthy diet', so not sure why you reacted.

        Might also appear true if one was still operating in the old paradigm that pits the environment against jobs. We're well past that and I wouldn't have picked you as being in that camp anyway. There's no good reason why we can't adopt a new model *and create sustainable ways that people can make a living.

        • Ad

          For the morons still using health metaphors at a time of worldwide mass death, what they don't give a shit about is the use of language.

          For those who compare massive economic damage across an entire country to a disease, well, that's the language of eugenics. Which just shows people who forget the language of the past are clearly doomed to repeat it.

          Invite Groot from Riverton to pop out of the apple tree and come and live with the actual unemployed.

          In the next year you'll find a few retreat to the marginal bush and countryside as they did in the mid 1930s and late 1970s. But for the rest of us, the plan that the government and industry already has in development has a better chance of assisting the country.

          • weka

            I haven't seen anyone compare a whole country to a disease, and if you are reading eugenics into this maybe you need to take a step back for a bit. There's a limit to how much I will let people make up shit about other commenters under my posts.

            "But for the rest of us, the plan that the government and industry already has in development has a better chance of assisting the country."

            A better chance than what? The problem with the plan is that it's BAU and utterly fails to take advantage of the opportunity to address climate change and the ecological crises. Which means we will be back in the same shit in another few years or decades. This is the *ideal time to create new models, and it's the only thing I have seen that gives us any real chance around averting climate catastrophe.

            • Ad

              Just inhale a bit.

              Your post was based on your cynical disposition "…some right noises, but the cynic in me isn’t holding my breath…" that anything that the Ministry of Tourism and the tourism industry and the government could come up with won't be sufficiently transformative.

              Is there anyone proposing Business As Usual in the quotes you provide?

              Why not just put an actual paper together and send it to the Minister? Avoid the Catastro-topia tone.

              Or via of the Green MPs if that's what you prefer.

              There's no need to do a list of bulletpointed 'I-reckons', when there's a process to go and alter the industry with set out for you.

              My simple challenge to you Weka is this: throw your dismissiveness away and engage really seriously with the Labour-Green-NZF coalition who are already hungry for real ideas. They give you their names in the media release to sen them to.

              You could even report back here on what they say in response.

              • bill

                Ad. If what existed 2 months ago could be 'put back and made whole', would you advocate for that being done?

              • weka

                "Is there anyone proposing Business As Usual in the quotes you provide?"

                Yes, there is. I just wrote a post about it, pity that yet again you didn't take the time to understand what I was saying.

                This is the third or so time you've commented under a post of mine to 1. interpret it through your own misunderstanding but not bother to clarify, and 2. dismiss what I am saying from that place if ignorance and give me a lecture on what I should do instead. I'm sick of pushing back against this and the nasty pokes. And I'm sick of the macho politics. I want my posts to be critiqued, but I want people to understand what I am saying first and to critique from a place of creative and proactive politics. I don't expect you to bother trying to undertsand what I'm saying in this comment, so please stop commenting under this post today.

          • Poission

            For those who compare massive economic damage across an entire country to a disease, well, that's the language of eugenics. Which just shows people who forget the language of the past are clearly doomed to repeat it.

            during the great depression population health did not decrease it increased.

            Recent events highlight the importance of examining the impact of economic downturns on population health. The Great Depression of the 1930s was the most important economic downturn in the U.S. in the twentieth century. We used historical life expectancy and mortality data to examine associations of economic growth with population health for the period 1920–1940. We conducted descriptive analyses of trends and examined associations between annual changes in health indicators and annual changes in economic activity using correlations and regression models. Population health did not decline and indeed generally improved during the 4 years of the Great Depression, 1930–1933, with mortality decreasing for almost all ages, and life expectancy increasing by several years in males, females, whites, and nonwhites


            Looking at the numbers of people walking,jogging etc (many with enhanced BMI) I suggest we may see (if it becomes sticky) that we may see less demand on health services in the future.

            the mandatory detoxification from Maccas et al for millenials may also see a demand switch in diet.

            • Ad

              I've lost 3 kilos already with a run every day. 87 kilos is a bit of a miracle at my age.

            • KJT

              With my wifes cooking, three times a day, I need to walk 300 k's a week.

            • Incognito

              Indeed, there are a number of studies suggesting that economic depressions are not all bad and in fact improve overall mortality stats. However, the common myth is that economic depressions lead to increased mental depressions and suicides and that’s it.

              • KJT

                I read some time ago, that recessions are good for some. Those that still have jobs, for example, can get goods and services, cheaper.

          • mauī

            I'm sure RG would be happy to leave the tap on at the bottom of his garden or has a vege box or two for any Infrastructure companies in need of assistance at this time.

  3. Forget now 3

    [reply to RG at 2]

    "Tourists from overseas"…

    Yes that is the real issue: overseas. We need to accept now that imports are not going to be possible on the scale they presently are. Goods as well as people. The export dollar of tourism has gone up in smoke!

    Speaking of the NZ$, are we still a tax haven ( I have been too busy to follow the government economic details – pretty much gave up on Labour when they signed the TPPA)? Or more technically; do we still have a finance sector geared to facilitating cheap and easy business setups that link directly to the Cook Islands tax haven that use NZ$ as their currency?

    A fair bit of our high-end "tourism" has to be the rich coming to make sure that their money is tucked up all nice and snug. They probably even sing lullabies in bank vaults as they watch that which is dearest to their hearts grow!

    • mikesh 3.1

      Although our capacity to import may be reduced it is possible we may be no worse off if we simply curtailed the import of products like oil and gasoline.

      Repatriation of profits to overseas owners is something we should look at if we wished to conserve overseas exchange.

      • Forget now 3.1.1

        While reducing our reliance on fossil fuels is certainly desirable, our entire infrastructure is built around their exploitation. One economic disruption at a time please!

        For example; the food in the supermarkets gets there mostly by truck (more rail and coastal shipping could be a place to start). But farms are basically outdoors factories that guzzle fuel (a third of imports by hazy unattributable memory).

        Stopping repatriation of profits (without a lot of negotiation) strikes me as a great to get the country invaded, occupied, and looted. What? Do you think any other country would lift a finger to stop that?

      • bill 3.1.2

        if we simply curtailed the import of products like oil and gasoline.

        If NZ gets a serious grip on global warming, then we're going to have zero oil imports within the space of a few decades.

        So, this year, the government should buy the total volume of petrol and diesel coming into the county (about 2 billion litres that will cost about $2 billion last time I looked), and distribute it free of charge from existing outlets on a hard sinking cap such that NZ is oil free in the time span required by the science that applies to global warming.

        If that requires nationalising distribution networks and making current private employees state employees, then fine.

        • KJT


          "The value of petroleum imports reached $11.2 billion in 2018, narrowly more than the 2008 value, the previous high. The 2018 value was 35 percent higher than in 2017. As a percentage of total imports, petroleum rose from 9.4 percent in 2017 to 12 percent in 2018".

          A bit more than two billion.

          The benefit to our terms of trade of reducing it, are obvious. Apart from the environmental benefits.

          Note; Dairy and log exports to China, in 2018, totalled 6.4 billion.

          • bill

            How are they calculating value?

            When I did a post a few years back, the cost price of a litre of petrol/diesel was under $1. And when I made enquiries about how much petrol and diesel NZ chewed through in a year, industry sources approximated 2 billion litres.

            • KJT

              Haven't looked into the methodology, but it is not too far from a calculation I did in 2008, adjusting for oil price movements, and inflation, for a University paper.

              And with other sources I had, which are not publicly available.

              I think of more significance is the ratio between oil imports, and dairy and log exports to China. In the same year. It gives a picture of oils cost, to our country.

              Of course, there is a credit side. We also export hydrocarbons.

              Hydrocarbons are not just oil and diesal. There is aviation fuels, fuel oil for ships, power stations and industry, gas, as well as oil for plastics, composite manufacturing.

              • bill

                Regardless of the more accurate $ figure, does "the cost" really matter?

                Money can be 'magicked' up whenever the "correct" beneficiary is in need – eg, financial institutions. So if we can agree that a viable future comes under the category of "correct" beneficiary (and I think we could probably agree on that point), then we can body swerve the ideological road block and focus on whether the actual idea is one that would work.

                Now, it absolutely works from the perspective of science and AGW insofar as it gets rid of fossil within determined time constraints.

                And we're looking at logistics and systems that are exactly the same as now, except that the load on current systems diminishes over time.

                There are possible social dynamics and whether to believe that people will generally become selfish hoarding monsters (though there are current laws that deal with the storage of petrol) – or whether we believe that people will adapt to the reality of a steadily diminishing resource?

                That aside, we might ask what holes might appear in the necessary underlying fabric of society that would need to be filled or patched in the short term and medium term before a long term fix is put in place?

                But I guess it's a discussion about another of them thar elephants for another time and place. I really just wanted to make the point that "cost" (in $ terms) is just an ideological piece of nothing in the scheme of things.

                • pat

                  theres the environmental benefits and certainly not having to find 6 or 7 billion USD every year would be a plus, all we need to do is agree on how its achieved…thats the hard part.

                  • bill

                    From memory, you and I went back and forth on it a bit and essentially only disagreed on the idea of individual rationing and the possibility of trading or selling unused 'credits'.

                    If the essential mechanics of it work, then I'd be of a school of thought that says "just do it" knowing that some fine tuning, or trial and error, around the operative framework would be in order.

                    • pat

                      your memory serves you well…and i suspect one way or another we'll end up somewhere around there but I cant see it happening just yet

            • McFlock

              Is it my math, or have they boo-booed and given the 2017 + 2018 value for fuel imports and crude oil imports together?

              2018 refined fuel imports were about $3billion, but much of our fuel is refined at Marsden Point (as it says in the link), so including crude oil imports thats $6billion for 2018.

              And the refined fuel unit value is <$1, which makes sense because import price would be cost price. And the price is the best estimate of value at importation time 🙂

              Or I'm barking up the wrong tree entirely.

  4. Carolyn_Nth 4

    AirBnB – I have a relative who provides a pretty good one for tourists. It's in an area where most of the homes are "holiday homes" – 2nd homes for city folk. So it probably would not be wanted by locals to rent. Also, there's limited self catering facilities. But, it'd be fine as a traditional bed and breakfast.

    From the rellies, I know AirBnB is made easy for owner and traveller, with the online booking and payment. Plus, part of the easiness, is ease of payment which somehow goes through the US (NYC, I think). So some entity in the US, is the "middleman" that probably clips the ticket of the money the owner gets.

    There definitely could be an alternative to make such accommodation easily accessible via an NZ owned company/website. And it might be something some NZers might like to use on a holiday.

    Or, in a holiday area, where there is the potential to create an NZ production company of some sort, such accommodation might be used by some workers.

    • weka 4.1

      There are NZ based websites (not sure where they are owned). Bookabach and Holiday Homes.

      There are definitely places with a housing shortage where long term rentals have moved to AirBnB (or Bookabach etc). This is different from actual bed and breakfast situations that are designed for visitors. They're full houses that used to have families living in them or people flatting in them. Why would people rent out for $300 a week instead of $300/night?

      • Carolyn_Nth 4.1.1

        Yep. Those need to be returned to those in need of places for locals to rent at a fair price.

        And all the ticket clippers overseas removed from the situation.

        People get sucked too easily into the trendy hype, easy money and ease of use promoted by overseas, online operators.

        • weka

          Not that I think we're going to have van tourists again any time soon, but I'd also love to see the govt prevent those all those kinds of offshore businesses strip mining NZ. Make NZ business a priority. The links between those models and degradation of NZer's experiences is obvious.

      • Ad 4.1.2

        You won't find any rental shortage in Queenstown, Wanaka, Cromwell, Arrowtown, Rotorua in four weeks. The market is flooding already. Even the government requirement not to evict people in Level 4 won't last into Level 3. The market is going to correct itself in a quite violent way.

        • weka

          yep, and thinking about sustainability, how to create new systems so we don't do that shit again. This is an ideal opportunity to solve some of the housing crisis, and that means moving out of the rat race, private investment bigger the social cost model. It's the thinking that needs to change here. We already know that leaving it to the market doesn't work well for society.

        • Incognito

          The restrictions on ending a tenancy apply for an initial period of three months, from Thursday 26 March 2020.


        • Graeme

          There was a major exodus in the days before lockdown. A lot of residential lease holders panicing because their flatmates had scarpered. And a lot are trapped here by the lockdown.

          There's a lot of construction of appartments and hotels underway at varying stages from not out of the ground to imminent settlement. Going to be real interesting when the lockdown comes off as to what happens. Picking a lot of sites abandoned as is with steel sticking in the air. Then there's all the tradies in Shotover Country with million dollar mortgages.

          But even if the market in Central corrects massively, rentals will still be unaffordable because there will be sod all jobs. OK for those with good jobs, but everyone else will still be struggling.

  5. Carolyn_Nth 5

    Very good post, weka. Pretty much explains my unease about the reports of this government initiative.

    Also, I suspect the reason for the publicity, if not the initiative as well, is because there are some wealthy tourism benefactors pushing for it – no doubt worried about the fact their exorbitant profits, and ultra comfy lifestyle, are now at risk.

    Some Kiwis have already shown they have the initiative to repurpose their businesses for the new situation – marine companies switching to making protective PVC masks for essential workers, for instance.

    And many workers have shown willingness to develop new skills – people signing up to fulfil the need for extra workers at supermarkets, for instance.

    So, in the new normal, there is likely to be plenty of people willing to change to the kind of production and services better suited to making NZ more environmentally sustainable, liveable for locals, and future-proofed against further global crises.

    Edit: And the tourism industry is already looking to tourism to pick up some of the slack. Looking towards their own industry future, with Kiwi jobs running second, and no considering of environmental sustainability, or the need for more productive industries in NZ – like actually producing necessary stuff.

    • weka 5.1

      coupling those kind of initiators with the sustainable design people would be awesome.

      Reading that article. "Captive market" snort. Still the old thinking, where it's about how to set up things for excess profit, instead of designing what we need as communities. Kind of gobsmacking to see BAU when domestic travel to that degree may not be possible under a covid future.

  6. kejo 6

    The new normal should include an enhanced manufacturing industry, a recycling industry, green energy and all the things that go to build a more viable economy and society.And of course a large dose of domestic tourism.

  7. bill 7

    I'd be guessing the Kiwi holiday of yesteryear might make a comeback.

    If border entry is restricted, then I'll assume that hits any Kiwis thinking of going off on an overseas holiday – ie, quarantined when they come back. So those people will be doing domestic holidays.

    Less tourist volume means Air BnB prices will drop. And that's good for those wanting to enjoy local holidays. Some Air BnB will go belly up. And that's good for local renters.

    Ski season will continue, but only for people living here.

    Cruise ships will (hopefully) fade to a memory.

    I'd assume many tourist attractions will drop prices in order they are in line with Kiwi spending power, and not that of richer foreign holiday makers. (lol – imagine if people in my financial situation could visit Queenstown again!)

    I'd also assume many businesses geared to catering for foreign tourists will refocus on either local tourists or local communities. And yes, some will go belly up.

    I'd like to see a blanket ban on private jets flying the very wealthy here btw, or some robust policy that ensures they cannot slip through any quarantine net.

    • aj 7.1

      some robust policy that ensures they cannot slip through any quarantine net.

      Should be a given, surely? they will also have to do 14 days solitary.

    • ScottGN 7.2

      Not so sure about the ski season bill.
      Apart from smaller club fields that are manned by members there’s not going to be any staff to run the larger ski areas. They all rely on a seasonal workforce of (mostly) youngsters who work for peanuts and whose lives are spent following the winter from one hemisphere to the other. That means no lifties, instructors, ski patrol, baristas, cooks, rental gear attendants, retail workers, waiters, cleaners, groomers, bus drivers, ski workshop maintenance, weather analysts, avalanche control etc and all the rest who work off-mountain and keep a ski resort ticking over.
      Real Journeys and NZSki in Queenstown and Wanaka who rely heavily on the Australian market and who both run multiple mountains will, at the very least, almost certainly have to mothball at least some of their operations this winter. Plus Real Journeys run a much wider tourist operation and their cashflow is going to be zilch going forward. RAL on Ruapehu is better placed due to its mostly domestic customer base but they’re going to have huge problems with staffing.

      Some of the smaller South Island ski areas have already started emailing club members and season pass holders advising that opening this winter is a far from certain prospect.

      • Graeme 7.2.1


        Add into that the realities of social distancing in a ski field environment. Lift queues? One person per chair, unless it's 6 seater, then all the crush of people getting up the mountain and around the base buildings. All for pretty much the same costs to the operator irrespective of number of punters. If its going to happen lift tickets would be 2 – 3 x normal to make it work.

        Add into that the risk from people travelling to the mountains from all over the country and it's a recipe for disaster. The same goes for any tourism within the country probably for some time.

        I'd expect Queenstown to be Level 4 for at least another month, we are still getting cases popping up, 5 yesterday. And at Level 3 the place can't operate, no hospo sector and most other businesses couldn't operate either because of distancing requirements. Even Level 2 we're not doing much.

        Will be interesting to see how many muppets try and come here for Easter. Right now it's the last place in New Zealand I'd be going right now.

        • weka

          Lol, hoping the Queenstown police are sitting on both entry points into the basin. Although it would present the dilemma of what to do with people that have driven from Dunedin or Invercargill.

          The other issue for skifields is climate change. Ski tourism having its head completely in the sand over that.

  8. Somehow we need to compensate for all this tourists who used our country to take pictures in, and to pay for all the assistance the government is doling out.

    I'm not sure this is the right post for this suggestion, but here goes: NZ made $1B or so more on exports than imports this last month. We had a balance of trade surplus because our farm exports fetched good prices and – here's the point – we didn't import so much crap from China and other low cost countries.

    So – how about import licensing? How about we regulate what comes into NZ to what we really need? That way we might have balance of trade surpluses and so of-set the lost of tourists (at least a little way).

    • pat 8.1

      wait for the screams….

      Unfortunately that would also require ceasing international online purchasing….how do you think that will be received?

      • Yes, there would be plenty of screams!

        But I think that international online purchasing would constitute a very small fraction of the crap that's sold here.

        Might put the Warehouse out of business though – sad!

        • Stunned Mullet

          Who gets to decide what or what isn't 'crap' and fit for import ?

          • bill

            The workers whose lives are enslaved to the production of a given piece of "stuff"?

            Not an easy thing to gauge I know, seeing as how working in the factory that knocks out the plastic moulds for "kinder surprise" (or some such) is probably soul destroying as all hell, but an activity people will queue up for because "jobs/wages/ rent/food…".

            Absent the wage system, and those decisions become fairly clear and obvious.

            So there you go. Question number one. Who gets to decide on the abolition of wage slavery?

          • weka

            "Who gets to decide what or what isn't 'crap' and fit for import ?"

            We're in a four week training period, learning what 'essential' can mean. I'm sure we can learn to apply those skills to things like climate mitigation, ecological protection, community wellbeing and resilience.

            • Robert Guyton

              4 weeks will not be long enough, weka; that learning will take much longer or require several repetitions; the weight of habit and pressures of vested interests will seek to live on. It's possible that a "global awareness" will bolster the individual's efforts to simplify their lifestyles, but like any New Year resolution made, don't get your hopes up too much. Asked this morning, "what do I yearn for that I couldn't get or do during lockdown?" my answer was, "Nothing at all." I should have said, visits from my children and grandchildren, which really, is the only thing I'd miss if the rahui was extended considerably. *Edit: and miss terribly!

              • weka

                Agreed. Four weeks is how long it's taking the country to understand what essential means in a covid lockdown situation. The broader stuff is a bigger task, but if the question is 'who gets to decide what crap we don't need to import?', we now have a template for understanding how to assess what is 'essential'. Maybe I will do a post on this, how we can broaden our lockdown experience to climate/ecological crises.

                I'm ok with having my hopes up a *bit, because that way lies potential change. But I agree the challenges are significant. Looking at the power holders in society intent on regaining BAU as much as we can (and not just the righties doing that). It will be natural enough that people generally see that as the goal too. It's possible that covid is our test run, which I guess means that next time we need to be ready with better stories and engagement of how to do it differently. Always the perennial question, and it is depressing if a pandemic doesn't shift consciousness significantly on this. Early days though, people are still in the middle of it, we will see what happens as the crisis internationally deepens.

                Currently listening to Rob Hopkin's What If audio book, so in a more positive frame of mind (sustained mostly from stopping myself thinking too much about how we are getting it wrong).

                I think an extended lockdown would serve society well, but I also get that we need to bring everyone along and too many are scared of the isolation and the economic issues. Both have solutions but who is listening?

        • pat

          im not sure what percentage of offshore purchases are done by private individuals online but am fairly sure its a growth industry….will see if I can find some numbers

          “Approximately $1 out of every $3 is spent with an overseas retailer.”
          “New Zealanders spent $4.2 billion online last year – an increase of 16 per cent, up from $3.6b recorded a year earlier.”

      • Graeme 8.1.2

        Freight surcharges are taking care of the online purchases already, and these will be a reality for as long as there's no, or little international travel.

        • weka

          exchange rates too.

        • pat

          perhaps…or perhaps not.

          Theres going to be a lot of un or under-utilised freight capacity around the world looking for freight….at least there will be until such time as enough fall over.

          • Graeme

            We've got three international consignments from our gallery that were dispatched with NZ Post international courier on 20/3, one is still airside at Auckland and the other two are in transit, usually it's a 4-6 day service.

            Both NZ Post and FedX have advised us of surcharges that would at least double the price, and delivery times aren't specified anymore. Express services are either unavailable or poa.

        • KJT

          A lot of that stuff used to airfreight. But.

          Our exports are bulky, and need a lot of containers. (The export harvest is short a lot of reefer containers out of China already). Something that has always put our exporters at a disadvantage.

          One thing we will not, be short of, is space on ships, for imports. Shipping companies will be selling that space at discounts.

          Importing plastic junk, may take longer, but freight will be much cheaper.

          Then, there are Airlines trying to replace lost passenger income, with freight.

          • pat

            "Importing plastic junk, may take longer, but freight will be much cheaper."

            and not just freight…theres going to be a deflationary impact while producers chase reduced demand in the short term….but once the field has been cleared it'll turn

          • weka

            shipping books rather than flying them seems reasonable to go back to. It's mostly and issue of consumerism and our brains having been trained to believe that we need things right now.

  9. feijoa 9

    Maybe I will be able to finally see Cathedral Cove

    Has been packed out with tourists parked all along on the access road the times I have tried and in the end didn't bother.

  10. ScottGN 10

    Ruapehu Alpine Lifts just emailed their season pass holders. It makes for pretty sobering reading.

    Tēnā koutou katoa,

    As New Zealand continues to adjust to life under the COVID-19 alert level 4 and as we head into week three of lockdown, we want to update you on what our teams have been working through and the potential impact this could have on our business.

    We have been busy modelling the potential impact COVID-19 may have on the coming winter using various scenarios based on the government's Alert Levels. The worst-case scenario of not being able to open for winter would mean a loss, and an increase in debt for RAL that is unacceptably high for both us and our Bank. The current uncertainty around lockdown levels means that we are currently working on whether it is possible to commit to the pre-winter costs of contracting labour and preparing the mountain, to at least keep the option open of skiing when we can. This is a month by month judgement that we will make in tandem with our Bank.

    With the current lockdown and uncertainty around the reduction in alert levels we have paused as much expenditure as is practical whilst keeping the business operating. Our team has made sacrifices themselves to set RAL up for success in the future; a number of our team are on discretionary leave, are working reduced hours from home and have on average taken a 40% reduction in pay as we navigate through this period of uncertainty.

    We have also been able to apply for, and have been granted, the wage subsidy. This has allowed us to keep all our current staff engaged with the business during this lockdown period.

    One thing that is certain, if we do manage to open for winter 2020, our operations will be significantly different to what our guests have experienced in the past. This lockdown period puts us behind in our scheduled maintenance and, with the closure of borders and some of the skill sets we were going to engage from overseas, it is likely that not all facilities will be operational for winter 2020.

    We have made the decision to defer our AGM until later this year with an update to be provided once we have certainty around a date.

    We want to thank you all for your patience. We acknowledge that this is a difficult and uncertain time for our employees and all those in our region exposed to our uncertain outlook. When we have relevant new information, we will update as soon as we are able.

    Stay safe and take care!

    Nāku iti noa, nā
    Murray Gribben & the RAL Board of Directors"

    • weka 10.1

      Shit getting real. This has been on the cards for a while given the potential of climate shutting ski fields for a season, and eventually multiple seasons. I hope that in addition to managing their short term crisis, they've got the capacity to make decisions now in the context of the changing climate (both weather and the need to stop having people travel so much)

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