Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult has called on the community to “take a breath,”understand the latest announcement and calmly prepare for the four-week lockdown period.
“This is a time where humanity and kindness need to come to the fore. The hardest thing of all will be our ability to adapt, but we can and we will,” Boult said.
“There are implications for everyone; break down the implications, write a list of your challenges and then work through the solutions with whānau, friends and support services.
“All the answers we need to understand in this unprecedented time may not be
immediately at hand, and that is ok. Take seriously the need to network now
with neighbours, particularly the vulnerable.”
Boult included stranded visitors in that consideration. “Yes, some visitors may need to be locked down in your premises for four weeks. You will need to work
through the implications of that with guests. Hopefully, some have planned for
that outcome. If not, start your plan now.”
Last week Boult had spoken of how difficult the lead up to the lockdown had been. “I am very used to frequently describing the Queenstown Lakes District as a thriving economy, boasting near zero unemployment, but suddenly, this is no longer the case. And, typically, management of my weekly diary requires the balancing of travel, with various meetings across the country and a series of events here in Wānaka and Queenstown.
It’s been very different [last] week. My time was spent working with the central government, our civil defence team, the SDHB, a fledgeling recovery team and council staff in full emergency management mode all the while fielding messages from so many residents and businesses offering assistance. Clearly, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the spirit of our community.”
The bleak reality of missing out on the culture of the Festival of Colour, the excitement of Warbirds over Wānaka, LUMA or the unique village celebration that is the Arrowtown Autumn Festival, was depressing, he said.
“To think of these events, alongside the other enormously successful achievements and world-firsts of entrepreneurs and our creative community groups, brings me great comfort in this unsettling and uncertain time. Further, when I look at the leadership in place across the district (and I’m talking across the board – in our schools, business community, community associations, arts, environmental and sporting groups, as well as local government), I have great confidence that we have the collective skills, energy and ingenuity to get through this upheaval.”
In this district, a young musterer bought into a small trucking business, which evolved into a ski field and tourism empire and resulted in a knighthood and his induction into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame. A couple of young travellers took an ancient tradition from Vanuatu and turned it into a global adventure tourism business with its home right here in the district. Over three million people worldwide have now bungy-jumped with AJ Hackett. Our youth are often on the world’s academic, environmental and sporting stages. We have people with a passion for the environment that have built incredible networks planting hundreds of thousands of natives and trapping predators to bring thriving bird song amongst our stunning scenery, he said.
“Here at council, you can have faith that we have the skills, relationships and experience to support our communities in this difficult time. More examples. Our council chief executive Mike Theelen, labelled by one of the council’s most vocal detractors as “just the sort of man you'd want in charge of our multiple community crises and challenges”, was Christchurch City Council’s manager of strategy and planning during the Christchurch earthquakes and more importantly, the recovery.”
“From this community will come stories of the generosity and resilience humanity is very capable of. In years to come, we will recall just how we looked out for our neighbours, how landlords and tenants, bankers and debtors, and those from both the Upper Clutha and Wakatipu all worked together to get through this pandemic and emerged in better shape than before.”
Times now are tough. But there will be light on the other side, Boult said.
“Let’s seize the opportunity to be at our very best, and show the attributes that have made us a beacon for business and community spirit around the world.” Council’s emergency operations centre will continue to function through the lockdown as will council services, many of which will occur remotely. Other essential and core infrastructure services such as waste and recycling collections will continue as usual with the appropriate safety precautions in place for QLDC staff.
“Much will need to change and adapt in the interim, but we will keep you informed at every step. Finally, as the Prime Minister has said, essential services, food, petrol and pharmaceutical supplies will all still be available, and there is no shortage in supply,” Boult said.