Release summary

Activate Tāmaki Makaurau is the delivery programme for the Government’s $60 million Auckland business package for the 2021 Delta lockdown.

It has provided much needed support to 12,000 Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland businesses impacted by COVID-19.

  • Tātaki Auckland Unlimited collaborated with the wider business support network to deliver more than $45 million in business advice and implementation support to more than 9000 Auckland businesses.
  • Whāriki Māori Business Network led support for Pakihi Māori
  • Pacific Business Trust’s expertise and tools provided a platform for managing direct channels to Pacific businesses and service providers.
  • Auckland Business Chamber led First Steps, a programme offering health and wellbeing support tailored to Auckland business owners.
  • Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) created the Activate Tāmaki Makaurau Business Community, an online platform enabling Auckland businesses to share and connect.

Between December 2021 and June 2022, more than 12,000 Auckland businesses impacted by COVID-19 accessed support through Activate Tāmaki Makaurau, the delivery programme for the Government’s Auckland business support package.

Activate Tāmaki Makaurau provided businesses support across four offerings: Advice and planning; implementation; mental health and wellbeing; and business community resources.

The $60 million package was announced by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Small Business in October 2021. It was designed to support Tāmaki Makaurau businesses through the uncertainty and impacts caused by the pandemic, with the region spending more time under COVID-19 restrictions than other parts of New Zealand.

Activate Tāmaki Makaurau was administered by Tātaki Auckland Unlimited – supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) – and in partnership with the region’s business support network, including Amotai, Auckland Business Chamber, Business Events Industry Aotearoa, Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA), Heart of the City, Hospitality New Zealand, Restaurant Association, Retail New Zealand, Tourism Industry Aotearoa, Whāriki - Māori Business Network, Pacific Business Trust, and Regional Business Partner Network.

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited Director of Investment and Industry Pam Ford says the support delivered by Activate Tāmaki Makaurau was critical for many businesses and injected a much-needed boost into the local economy, assisting thousands of businesses to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the six-months the programme was open, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited and partners approved more than 12,700 individual applications from 9000 businesses seeking business advice and implementation support. This was invaluable to businesses experiencing the cumulative effect of five COVID-19 lockdowns and international border closures. 

Auckland businesses were invited to access one-to-one expert business advice. Implementation grants further helped businesses access industry experts with the tools and know-how to put business plans into action.

“Many owners have shared with us the difference working with expert service providers has made to their businesses, but also to their employees and families. Knowing this support has positively impacted more than 9000 businesses and that around 900 service providers are helping deliver this support, offers a remarkable sense of pride for Tātaki Auckland Unlimited and our delivery partners,” says Ford.

Ensuring support was accessible to a broad business community was achieved through collaboration with delivery partners and service providers with their own business networks. This resulted in Māori businesses representing 12 per cent of the more than 12,700 funding applications approved, and Pacific businesses 10 per cent. Trusted partners Whāriki Māori Business Network and Pacific Business Trust were consulted throughout the programme’s design and delivery, and 36 per cent of the total 1100 registered service providers had multilingual capabilities.

General Manager of Hotel DeBrett Sheronika Chandra says through an Activate Tāmaki Makaurau business advice and implementation grant, Hotel DeBrett was able to pivot its customer base and focus on building a new market.

“Our customer base of more than 15 years was completely wiped out due to closed borders and work from home orders. Activate Tāmaki Makaurau gave us the opportunity to create new digital content, which helped us attract a new domestic customer base. The content produced will help us rebuild our business through the reopening process, and long after the restrictions have gone.”  

In addition to business advice and implementation grants, Activate Tāmaki Makaurau offered access to First Steps – health and wellbeing support tailored to Auckland business owners feeling isolated and under pressure from the mental and emotional impact of COVID-19.

Led by Auckland Business Chamber, First Steps supported more than 450 business owners and managers – with more than 6400 therapy hours delivered by 394 wellbeing professionals across 57 organisations. The First Steps website has been visited 68,500 times and 1200 individuals have completed the First Steps assessment tool, which helps identify feelings of anxiousness, depression, and frustration. Many accessing the assessment tool reported using avoidance, emotional outbursts, and alcohol to cope with business stress.  

Auckland Business Chamber Chief Executive Michael Barnett attributes First Steps’ positive reception to its accessibility and discretion.

 “First Steps has provided a much-needed resource to business owners and leaders at a time when they were vulnerable to stresses and pressures they were unfamiliar with. Through First Steps they have been able to identify a resource that fitted with them, and they could self-direct in their own time and space,” says Barnett.

The Activate Tāmaki Makaurau Business Community, delivered by Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA), provided Auckland businesses with instant access to free tools, resources, and events through an online platform. Auckland businesses could share and connect with other businesses facing the same challenges and operating within the same constraints, region, and industries.

The Activate Tāmaki Makaurau Business Community has over 4035 registered members accessing resources and networking within the platform. More than 3880 registrations were received for 50 partner events with over 3100 views. The most downloaded resources included guidance on creating digital marketing strategies, risk assessment tools and business continuity templates, with over 2780 downloads across 70 partner resources.

EMA Chief Executive Brett O’Riley says, “The Activate Tamaki Makaurau Business Community is the community platform that many of the partner organisations have envisioned for some time, enabling multiple connections and interactions across the business eco-system. We now have the opportunity for this platform to become a permanent cooperatively owned asset, to be expanded for the benefit of Auckland businesses.”

The Activate Tāmaki Makaurau Business Community is still available and can be accessed here.

Notes to editor

Auckland's GDP was reduced by more than $3.5 billion over the first 12 months of the pandemic, compared to only $500 million for the rest of New Zealand. The return to lockdown in August 2021 was another major shock to the regional economy, with Auckland's GDP falling nearly $3 billion in the September quarter[1]. The impact across the rest of New Zealand was comparatively marginal due to moving out of Alert Levels 4 and 3 within a few weeks. Data from the 2020 Business Operations Survey shows small businesses were less likely to be able to operate at Alert Levels 4 and 3 than larger businesses, so the impact on them was greater[2]. 

As of 22 June 2022

Activate Tāmaki Makaurau, the delivery programme for the Government’s Auckland business support package, resulting from the 2021 Delta lockdown in Auckland, saw local businesses access support across advice and planning, implementation, mental health and wellbeing, and business community resources.

To reach Auckland’s diverse business community, including Māori and Pacific businesses, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited partnered with the wider business support network in the region.
Small to medium-sized Tāmaki Makaurau businesses worked with their preferred service provider, from a community of over 1100 experts, many themselves small-to-medium-sized Auckland businesses.
Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, Whāriki - Māori Business Network and Amotai worked closely together to identify and enable nearly 80 Māori service providers to deliver services to Māori businesses.
Pacific Business Trust generously offered the use of their expertise and grants platform for the delivery of business advisory and implementation grants. This provided a robust and auditable processing tool, which minimised time and resources required to deliver the programme.

Auckland businesses accessing this support through Activate Tāmaki Makaurau did not receive any money directly. They received specific services to a value approved via the application process, from registered service providers.
Payment for completed services is made directly from Activate Tāmaki Makaurau to the service providers, upon Tātaki Auckland Unlimited’s receipt of an invoice, once the contracted work is completed, confirmed as completed by client business and service provider – and only at the conclusion of a thorough vetting process.

A list of Activate Tāmaki Makaurau business advice and implementation support recipients and service providers to 31 May 2022 is available here.

[1] Infometrics

[2] Stats NZ 2020 Business Operations Survey