Local Government Response to the impact of Covid-19 in New Zealand: Evidence from centres dependent on international tourism and migrant workers.

Authors: Etienne Nel*, University of Otago
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Economic Geography, Australia and New Zealand
Keywords: Covid 19, New Zealand, Resilience, Economic, Tourism
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 11
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Covid-19 has significantly impacted on the well-being of the residents and the economies of local government areas globally. To date, New Zealand, through the drastic step of closing its borders, was over the course of 2020 able to contain the Covid pandemic to just over 2000 cases. However, in so doing, what has been one of world’s more integrated economies lost its key international tourism market and access to migrant and young international workers who have traditionally been critical to the agricultural labour force. This paper examines how the local governments and associated governance systems in two of the primary international tourism centres – Queenstown and Te Anau which services Fjordland - and neighbouring agricultural areas have responded to the economic and employment crises they face from the closed borders. The presentation is based on interviews with officials and key stakeholders supplemented with secondary data. It investigates the degree to which place based leadership, drawing on local resilience and social capital was able to implement crisis response measures as many local industries effectively collapsed and new activities have been attempted. The presentation demonstrates both the importance of endogenous and innovative responses, but also the degree to which medium to long-term damage to the local economy is forcing changes, which, with varying degrees of success are responding to economic and employment challenges.

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