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Cara Tipping Smith

Back in the day, when people asked me what I was studying and I said, “psychology”, their response was usually to fold their arms, take a step backwards and say something like “are you analysing me?”.

Let’s just say psychology didn’t make me the most popular girl in the pub.

That all changed when I decided to lie and tell people I was studying palmistry. Cue a line-up of people with their hands out, palm up, asking me what I “could see”.

I learned that the way information is presented makes a difference.

Psychology is a science and like all sciences, it depends on numbers.

I quite like numbers. They either add up or they don’t.

So, a couple of weeks ago, when the Otago Chamber of Commerce put out some numbers about how it had distributed central government money to help support businesses in our region, I was interested.

Scrolling down the list of districts I read: Dunedin City, Clutha, Central Otago, Queenstown, Waitaki and then, last on the list, Wanaka. Wanaka’s not a district. Wanaka and Queenstown are part of the Queenstown-Lakes district.

At least they are in every single other government or regional authority report I could find.

Interest piqued, I went down the rabbit hole. Turns out, it was one of those dusty, shallow, lazy sort of rabbit holes that don’t run very deep.

With some quick maths, I recognised that, of all the funding distributed, Queenstown-Lakes received on average, about 61%.

Within that, it received 78% of the tourism transition and 58% of the Covid-19 advisory support money allocated to the Otago region.

By contrast, Waitaki received an average of 2% to 3%.

Personally, I can’t begrudge the support delivered to Queenstown-Lakes. It has by far been hardest hit.

Why create a separate Wanaka district? You can make up your own mind about that.

For us, the focus is local.

That’s why we’ve signed up to the newly incorporated Oamaru Business Collective.

We think it’s important for local businesses to have local representation that doesn’t have to juggle the interests of any other district.

The Oamaru Business Collective is more than a retailers’ group. It offers collective support for all local businesses; professional services, trades, manufacturers, hospitality and more.

Membership starts from $10 per month and the first event – a social media workshop – is free for those signed up.

Join the Facebook group for details.

  • Cara Tipping Smith is a director of The Business Hive, and an Oamaru Business Collective committee member.