120 jobs on the line at Te Puia

By Kereama Wright

One of Rotorua’s major tourist attractions could be facing closure as the economic effects of COVID-19 continues to takes its toll.

Staff at Te Puia and the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts institute were notified at a meeting on Wednesday that up to 85% of staff could potentially lose their jobs.

Tens of thousands of tourists have cancelled bookings at Te Puia since the pandemic spread worldwide.

The potential cuts are likely to affect tour guides, arts schools, restaurant staff and Māori cultural performers.

A long serving worker who wished to remain unnamed said there was a feeling of utter shock and sadness in the room during the announcement.

Some staff members have served for over thirty years.

Te Puia board members and senior management met with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister, Grant Robertson today to discuss the future the business.

Te Puia and NZMACI chairman Harry Burkhardt said in a statement, “We are operating in unprecedented times, which requires an unprecedented response. On that basis, the Board is working through this response with our people. They are, and continue to be, our main priority.”

Alternative employment options such as Pak n Save and Kiwifruit picking have been offered.

Te Puia and NZMACI will release more information tomorrow.

But border closures to all non-residents or citizens, as of 11:59 pm tonight will no doubt have a severe impact on the entire tourism industry.