Lockdown – pleasure and trial

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THE VOICE COLUMN

Life under lockdown on the Otago Peninsula has been pleasure and a trial at the same time.

Having extended whanau time, catching up on household projects and exercising were common activities and pleasures.

The flip side though, was isolation, uncertainty, job losses and anxiety about the future.

The community will look back on this period as one of the strangest times for many years.

One positive for me was how the community and our essential services responded to the pandemic.

Local people caring for one another, where acts of kindness were common were touching and and revealed a genuine spirit of caring in our area.

Our reliance on the global tourism market has been significantly altered as international travel remains closed.

Therefore, our operators and businesses need to reposition themselves in the New Zealand and regional travel context.

Just how easy that will be given the predictions around unemployment and the availability of discretionary spending remains to be seen.

However, I’m heartened to see attractions like Larnach Castle, the Albatross Centre and others reopen their doors.

As we move forward into recovery, the pandemic has provided an opportunity for the Otago Peninsula to look at what its future might be.

That includes the tourism industry, but also the other small businesses that run here, our artists, runaka, biodiversity, landscape and of course the community that lives here.

The board has recently begun having discussions about the future and what our area might aspire to as we recover from the pandemic.

The Otago Peninsula could actually set its own course using its own aspirations and goals to benefit business, the community and the environment.

Over coming weeks the board intends to develop a forum that will allow everyone to give us their vision for recovery and beyond.

It’s an exciting and daunting challenge, but a necessary one if we are to preserve the values we cherish and build on the spirit that lockdown has demonstrated.

Even in lockdown, the annual plan process of the Otago Regional Council continued and last week I gave the board’s submission.

It highlighted the management of Tomahawk Lagoon, bus services, biodiversity and the health and management of the Otago Harbour.

June 18 will be the board’s first meeting since March, just a reminder to use the public forum of the meeting if you have anything you wish to discuss.

Finally, on behalf of the board, I wish all of the community our best wishes and support as everyone rebuilds after Covid-19.