Accolades for COVID-19 business support programme

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s economic and cultural agency, has won New Zealand’s premier award in the national economic development awards announced last night.

The agency won the Best Practice Premier Award at the annual Economic Development New Zealand (EDNZ) awards for its Activate Tāmaki Makaurau COVID-19 business support programme, which also won the Best Practice Award for Business Recovery Support.

Activate Tāmaki Makaurau saw Tātaki Auckland Unlimited bring together partners – including the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Pacific Business Trust, Whāriki, EMA and Auckland Chamber – and lead delivery of the Government’s $60 million support package for Auckland businesses impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns. The support package was designed, launched and delivered when the Auckland region was in a 107-day lockdown from August to December 2021.

Along with the Best Practice Award for Business Recovery Support and the Premier Best Practice Award, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited also received the Commendation Award for Inclusive Economic Development. This award was for Project Ikuna, a programme which connects eligible employers with education providers to upskill Auckland’s Pacific workforce in key sectors. Project Ikuna is part of Alo Vaka (the Auckland Pacific Skills Shift), a four-year programme funded by MBIE.

Sponsored by Are Institute of Canterbury and Data n Dashboards, this year’s EDNZ Awards saw 40 nominations across eight categories.

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited Chief Executive Nick Hill welcomed the recognition of the agency’s two initiatives, which address vital elements of the Auckland region’s economy – business recovery and supporting Pacific peoples working in jobs more likely to be affected by automation, technological change and the impacts of the pandemic.

These initiatives respond to the unique challenges and opportunities of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s economy, meeting its immediate need for fast and effective business support at scale through the extended lockdown of 2021, while harnessing the strength of its diversity for a better and more inclusive future.

Hon Stuart Nash, Minister of Economic Development extended his congratulations to Tātaki Auckland Unlimited for the Activate Tāmaki Makaurau accolades.

“This mighty programme has become a best-practice model for dedicated regional economic development, and it has wildly exceeded my expectations. Even though there’s no global playbook on how to recover from a pandemic, MBIE, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, and business support partners, have done a terrific job at supporting Auckland’s local business sector,” says Minister Nash.

Best Practice Award and Best Practice Premier Award for Business Recovery Support – Activate Tāmaki Makaurau

Activate Tāmaki Makaurau was the business support delivery programme for Auckland businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It provided relief to small-to-medium-sized businesses experiencing the significant cumulative impacts of five regional lockdowns.

Between 17 August and 2 December 2021, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland was in lockdown for 107 days. United in a call for support, Auckland business and sector groups came together, combining skills and knowledge to make a recommendation to Government to bring urgent relief and set a path for recovery. 

On 22 October 2021, Government announced a $60 million support package for Auckland businesses impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns. As the Regional Business Partner, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited led delivery of the support package – which became known as Activate Tāmaki Makaurau.

Designed, launched and delivered during lockdown, Activate Tāmaki Makaurau took an innovative and agile approach delivering business support across business advice, implementation grants, business community resources, and health and wellbeing support.

Nick Hill says 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 impacts of lockdowns and international border closures,” says Hill.

Commendation Award for Inclusive Economic Development – Project Ikuna (part of Alo Vaka)

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited is delivering Project Ikuna, an initiative connecting eligible employers and education providers to upskill Auckland’s Pacific workforce in sectors and jobs likely to be affected by automation and other technological change. 

The training – externally accredited short courses – is designed to give people the skills and knowledge to adapt to the future of work and the economic impacts of COVID-19, boosting work and life skills, confidence and resilience.

Project Ikuna is part of MBIE’s Alo Vaka programme, a four-year initiative that invests in innovative approaches to support Pacific people’s labour market progression by focusing on workplace and skills, working with employers, communities and fānau/families.

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, Auckland Council’s community and social innovation arm The Southern Initiative (TSI), and Pacific social change agency The Cause Collective, are also strategic delivery partners in this initiative.

Nick Hill says with nearly 60 per cent of Auckland’s 99,300-strong Pacific workforce in jobs more likely to be affected by automation and other technological change – as well as the economic impacts of COVID-19 – Project Ikuna is an important driver for inclusive economic development.

“The impacts of the pandemic have aggravated Auckland’s entrenched social and economic inequities. Pacific people will make up a third of the region’s working-age population by 2050, and we’re working with Auckland businesses to boost their employees’ resilience, capability, confidence and wellbeing, so our companies, communities and region have a more skilled and future-ready workforce,” says Hill.

More than 400 Pacific workers from 45 Auckland employers have completed short courses since the initiative launched in July 2021.

Videos are available to illustrate the Activate Tāmaki Makaurau business support programme and Tātaki Auckland Unlimited’s work helping upskill Auckland’s Pacific people through Project Ikuna.