A message for corporates
On Thursday last week Kaikohe residents would have woken to the unfortunate news that their local Warehouse store would be closing.
This would have seen not only the loss of 33 jobs, a massive blow in a town of only 4500 people, but also the loss of access to everyday consumer goods at affordable prices for both Kaikohe and the surrounding area, something most Kiwis would take for granted.
I took the view that it is unreasonable for big businesses, many of which probably displaced smaller firms when moving into towns like Kaikohe, to simply up and leave when the going gets tough. Through the goods they sell and the people they employ, such businesses are pillars of the community, whether their owners recognise it or not.
Thankfully, before lunchtime that day a spokesperson for The Warehouse announced that the landlord had agreed to re-enter negotiations regarding the lease, and as such the store is likely to stay open.
I spoke to the landlord, and he was not happy with how The Warehouse had conducted itself during the lease negotiations.
He has, however, taken on additional risk to help save jobs in Kaikohe, which is commendable.
I am not interested in claiming credit for keeping Kaikohe’s Warehouse open. However, I hope it is clear to the large corporates operating in regional New Zealand that this government will no longer stand idly by if and when they decide to abandon the provinces.
The closure of essential community resources such as bank branches and Post Shops, and services such as air links, happened all too often under the previous National-led administration, with not so much as a whisper from any of its ministers.
I hope that with the stances I have taken against The Warehouse and Air New Zealand in recent weeks it will be clear that this style of laissez-faire governance can no longer be relied upon to emanate from Wellington.
Realising this government’s aim of rejuvenating the provinces and stimulating sustainable growth throughout New Zealand will take more than just providing funding for worthy local projects through the Provincial Growth Fund.
It will require an effort from all those with a stake in regional New Zealand, including local government, iwi, businesses and investors, to commit to ensuring its long-term prosperity, and be willing to ride out the bumps in the road that will come along from time to time.
"I hope that with the stances I have taken against The Warehouse and Air New Zealand in recent weeks it will be clear that this style of laissez-faire governance can no longer be relied upon to emanate from Wellington."