New Zealand’s $12.1bn Economic Airbag has activated — now what?

$12.1 billion dollars is a lot of money in New Zealand and that’s how much of a war chest is being allocated for fighting COVID-19. Globally we are now on a war footing with a virus….and at a level us humans haven’t seen in a century.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that New Zealand’s approach is to ‘go hard and go early’.

What does that mean for Kiwi businesses, particularly those who make and manufacture products?

I’ve outlined my thoughts on how Kiwi business owners can respond.

1. The Best Economic Defence Is A Health Response — Pitch in.

The government has allocated a massive $500 million dollars to ensure the health response is geared up. Short term, it helps deal with the stress on our health system. The potential cases… the ones that are just colds. Long term, testing helps us decide which areas of New Zealand might be red and which areas are green on the way out of this event.

As a business owner your job is to ensure you minimise the risk to your employees. Take a health and safety approach to this. Covid-19 is a risk to your employees so minimise this through:

  • social distancing at the work site.
  • social distancing at the office.
  • enhanced cleaning procedures on high touchpoints.
  • make working from home the default.

Get good advice like this from the BusinessNZ network that represents the 600,000+ business owners in New Zealand.

We might be able to avoid the fate of Europe if we all do our bit.

2. The Economic Shock Will Ripple Through. Prepare.

Business Owners Prepare.

You may not feel it immediately, but the economic shock of this event will ripple through to you. We are a small highly interconnected country of 5 million people. Air New Zealand has reduced international flights by 85% so is the time to turn inwards and support each other through this.

Everyone knows each other.

We are good at helping each other.

As a business owner who has felt a downturn of 30% or more you can:

  • Access the wage subsidies available for your team. $585.80 per full time employee. $350 per part-time employee. Keep them employed.
  • Don’t be stoic and see these as government handouts you’ll battle on through. These are unprecedented times and you must keep the cash flowing too.
  • 70% of businesses who are licensed to use the New Zealand Made Kiwi trademark have less than 20 employees…you are exactly who this package is designed for.
  • There’s up to $150k lump sum available. Take it…if you need it. You’ll get this within 5 days of applying on the MSD website.
  • Give yourself a 12 week window before making longer term decisions. See how this evolves. It’s evolving at exponential speed. Keep adjusting.

For all businesses, spend on the purchases you were going to make anyway. Claim back $5k as a tax expense (up from 1k) for the 2020/2021 year.

Make a point of buying from fellow Kiwis. Not just for the good feeling. Over a third of New Zealand Made businesses have been in business for over a decade. We got through the GFC. We’ll get through this. We are good traders. Dust off those plans.

Look for the New Zealand Made logo on the footer of business websites. Keep the money flowing in New Zealand.

LeisureTime Spa & Pool Covers

Business Owners — Keep Marketing

More Kiwis will be on their devices in New Zealand than ever before. This is an opportunity for you. Don’t cash in on the virus. Be helpful. Educate. Help provide solutions to this new environment we find ourselves in.

Buy New Zealand Made will continue to offer FREE interview features on A Kiwi Original. The Making It New Zealand series where we travel around New Zealand filming what manufacturers make is on hold until Sep 2020.

Employees Prepare.

Just 12 weeks ago New Zealand Made business owners were overwhelmingly focussed on growing revenue to pay for salaries, PAYE and the raw ingredients that you help make. I bet this has done a 180 degree and is now focussed on managing costs. You can help your employer by:

  • Being flexible on what jobs you’re working on.
  • Be flexible on where and how you work.
  • Look for ways to save the company money. Often you’ll know far more about what really goes on at the coalface.

If you make purchases on behalf of the company you work for, how could you switch that spending to New Zealand sources?

Consumers Prepare.

Be smart about your spending.

Spend online where you can to pitch in with the health response by socially distancing yourself from your fellow Kiwis.

  • Read the label. Be conscious about where a product is made.
  • Look for the New Zealand Made logo. Each purchase helps a New Zealand business owner keep their team employed.
  • Keep the money flowing in New Zealand.

Invest In Your Home — You’re Going To Be Spending Time There

As we all forego social contact, make your home somewhere you actually want to spend time.

Maintain Your Wellbeing While You Stay At Home

If you’re over 50 you might be doing without your normal exercise routine to pitch in with the social isolation effort in New Zealand Maintain your wellbeing over the coming weeks and exercise in home with a Rock-It Board. Watch how Annie Evans show how it works here.

Get Your Food Delivered

New World and Countdown have online delivery services that will deliver to your door. Ask someone to help you order online if it’s your first time.

Keep your house clean

Ecobeings keeps your house clean. They’re an awesome Kiwi business who makes soap at scale for New Zealanders without hurting the environment.

Keep your kids busy

Pick up some new wooden toys made from renewable NZ pine from Struan Toys.

Enjoy your backyard

Get the BBQ going and spend what you might do at a restaurant on premium export quality meat by iconic New Zealand butcher Gourmet Direct.

Learn a new sport in your backyard

Social isolation might mean you give up your favourite sport. Why not pickk up an entirely new one with your family with Disc Golf. Pro Tip: Learning and mastering the rules will take you more than a weekend.

Get some better snacks for those Netflix binge series

During crisis it’s natural to want a few more treats. Try something new with these thoroughly recommendable crispy oyster mushroom chips made by a super awesome new company in the Wellington region.

Upgrade Your Mind With Better TV

We’ve worked hard over the last two years to bring you some of the amazing stories of New Zealand manufactures through irrisitably concise 3 minute videos showing just what Kiwis are making. We’ve made them all Free To Air to watch on YouTube.

Our latest A Kiwi Original series is also free to air. Watch the stories of the Kiwis who make products and deliver services in New Zealand.

Keep yourself fresh in close living quarters

Upgrade your deodorant with Raw Nature and go aluminium free at the same time.

DIY Time

When you stay in there’s no excuse for not getting that washing out on the line. Make it a good line. Replace that rusted clothesline with one a NZ Made stainless steel one that works.

Get A Timber Built Shed

Get a timber built shed delivered to create that space you’ve always wanted with EcoSheds Timber buildings.

Escaping to your boat? Make sure that hatch is secure with Cule Marine hatches.

Upgrade Your Working From Home Wardrobe

Working from home feels better when you dress up not down for the occasion. Be fashionable on those Skype and Zoom calls. Sort through your wardrobe and decide on a new dress from White Chalk.

Keep Hydrated

A dozen low sugar sparkling water cans delivered to your door will add a little sparkle to your day Vista Drinks.

More ideas…

Looks for goods on the Buy New Zealand Made marketplace or simply add ‘NZ Made’ to your Google search criteria.

Got one for me? Send it through and I’ll add it to this list. Let’s make social distancing and staying home as enjoyable as it can be.


Don’t be afraid. New Zealand is a high trust environment. We trust each other to do the right thing. Self isolation is working amongst us Kiwis. We have strong leaders in PM Ardern and phenomenal open health advice support.

Follow Ministry of Health on Twitter

We have a real chance to fight this virus together.



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