Activity in the June 2020 quarter itself was down 8.3% compared to the same quarter in 2019, the smallest regional contraction across the country. The region's strong primary sector and the small size of the international tourism sector, is helping shield Tairāwhiti from the worst effects of the economic downturn.

Trust Tairāwhiti GM Commercial Richard Searle acknowledged the region's primary industry. "Meat exports nationally rose 0.4%pa in the June quarter, even as forestry exports, another major economic contributor in Tairāwhiti, saw a decline."

"We are also seeing the strength of regional collaboration with both the Tairāwhiti Economic Action Plan (TEAP) and Rau Tipu Rau Ora recovery plan bringing together regional leaders. As a collective, we are sharing information and working together to achieve a best-for-region response," said Searle.

Unemployment in Tairāwhiti is heading towards a ten year low, at 6.3% in June 2020, compared with 6.4% in June 2019.

While unemployment continues to trend lower, Tairāwhiti continues to be one of the regions with the highest unemployment in the country." The challenge remains to transition our unemployed into job opportunities through the training, development, and workplace support initiatives that are coordinated within TEAP, and in partnership with industry groups.

Trust GM Tourism Adam Hughes was pleased to see household card spending growth in Tairāwhiti is the highest nationally, at 3.4% compared with -2.8% national average.

"This shows underlining consumer confidence. Our communities are continuing to spend and support local businesses. We have also seen strong domestic visitor numbers since which has restated the local visitor industry in a traditionally quiet winter season for Tairāwhiti," said Hughes.

While house prices have dipped slightly in the last quarter, the average increase of 23% over the previous year is significant. It is a further challenge to housing affordability in Tairāwhiti. This increase reinforces the need to continue to prioritise the Tairāwhiti Housing Strategy - co-led by Manaaki Tairāwhiti and Trust Tairāwhiti.

Trust Tairāwhiti CEO Gavin Murphy said the strategy (available on both organisations websites) indicates a shortage of 400 homes. "A strong and resilient economy has the potential to boost demand for housing and place further demand on our significant housing supply challenges.

"The Tairāwhiti Housing Strategy provides details regarding the types of houses required, including short versus long term requirements. We continue to work with Manaaki Tairāwhiti to drive this forward and will be holding a housing developers hui with a range of developers we have already engaged," said Murphy.

Trust Tairāwhiti leads the economic actions in Rau Tipu Rau Ora. The trust is in daily contact with recovery plan partners to ensure the broader aspirations of health, whānau and community, environment and workforce are aligned, and communities are receiving consistent messages.

"We know the impact of Covid-19 will continue to challenge our local economy for some time. By working together, we give ourselves the best chance of maintaining our resilience. If any local businesses and workers would like to discuss their situation, please contact Trust Tairāwhiti," said Murphy.