Disaster Recovery: How can we help?

The recent Kaikoura earthquakes have had a huge impact on the lives and businesses of residents in the area. We spoke to some of the operators in the area and found out how they are dealing with the consequences of the disaster, and how the recreation industry can support our colleagues that have been affected.

Kaikoura Kayaks is family owned and operated and they are ready and open for business. The seals, dolphins and the dramatic coastline are still there, but customers are unable to get to them.

The government support package is helping, but it cannot keep the business going if they miss a whole summer season of tourists. They have set up a Give a Little page to try and help them through and keep their business afloat.

On his fundraising page, owner Matt says "Our business is 100% reliant on through traffic to the town of Kaikoura. For now and the foreseeable future all roads in and out of Kaikoura are closed to all tourist traffic. This is going to put a tremendous strain on our business and family life. This campaign is designed to help us get through the summer and prepare for winter. If you've ever been out on the water with us you know how much fun it is and if you ever thought it was good value please give a little and guarantee we can continue to allow other people to experience what you have experienced." If you want to help, you can donate to the family here.

Just outside of Kaikoura, we have found that perception rather than reality is slowing recovery. The Clarence River is open for paddling, depsite what might have been portrayed in some media.

We spoke to Bridget Jessop, Owner of Clarence River Rafting, about the consequences for her business. "We've had a huge number of bookings cancelled and have lost over $80,000 so far. Customers have cancelled their trips over the next few months, which we completely understand, but we want to reassure everyone that the river is safe and there have been no major changes to it, apart from a couple of extra rapids. The great news is that the road to Clarence is open, and we are open for business - we just need some support to get the tourists to return."

Nick Chapman, Acting Manager of the Boyle River Outdoor Education Centre said "At the Boyle we are open for business! The biggest impact has been on the state of mind of our clients and core business, the schools. It seems that now many parents and senior management in schools believe the perceived risk of another big earthquake, outweighs the benefits and outcomes of outdoor education and recreation programmes that the Boyle delivers. We have lost $25,000 in revenue since the earthquake 3 weeks ago. As a not-for-profit organisation we rely on schools to come. This ensures we can cover operational costs and continue to deliver high quality programmes, the highlight of many students schooling.

The way I see it. We need a campaign highlighting the outcomes of youth actively engaging in outdoor education and recreation. We need a social perception shift, where key outcomes like resilience, teamwork, standing up and getting on, and overcoming barriers are seen as invaluable skills in our youth, so when the “next big one comes” they will be equipped with the skills, fortitude and experience to get through the tough and hard times. Nowhere or anything is risk free and this risk aversion prevalent today, I feel will do more harm to the ability and resilience of our youth to critically think and overcome problems.

I think this is a complex issue not helped with Canterbury’s recent history, maybe moving into the New Year we will see perceptions returning to normal. We feel for all the businesses that have had devastating impacts on their operations, the Boyle wishes everyone a speedy recovery and are grateful and thankful that we will overcome this speed bump and continue to provide opportunities for students from around New Zealand."

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