SHOP LOCAL: Local businesswoman and owner of Presentables, Leonie Moeke, says the Discover Our Local Campaign is fantastic. Photo Troy Baker D9875-04

THE tight-knit Eastern Bay community is again rallying round those affected by a crisis – this time local businesses affected by the Covid-19 lockdown.

The “Discover Our Local” campaign is creating buzz around local businesses and attractions in Whakatane, Kawerau and Opotiki and encouraging locals to get out and explore their backyards.

Initiated by the Whakatane District Council’s tourism and events team, the Discover Our Local campaign is a collaborative effort between Whakatane, Opotiki and Kawerau District Councils, EPIC Whakatane Town Centre, Radio 1XX, and the Eastern Bay Chamber of Commerce.
“The momentum has been fantastic, and everyone has been getting behind it,” said Whakatane council tourism and events team member Anna Williams.

“We had been thinking about a support local campaign for a while even pre-lockdown.

“Usually we are about sharing all the great things here with visitors and connecting them to great experiences but now we’re doing the same with our locals.”

Businesses have told Mrs Williams that people are getting behind local businesses; momentum has been good, and they are “feeling the love” from the community.

“The vibe has been great, people are getting back out there and shopping,” she said.

“It’s really cool to see.

“The point of it is to check local before looking elsewhere, people may be surprised to find the range of brands, products and experiences we do have here.”

The campaign is designed to build awareness with locals about the businesses and experiences available in the Eastern Bay but also with visitors when the community starts welcoming them back.

As businesses have been building their online presence and brand awareness within the region, Mrs Williams said local people had realised they did not need to shop elsewhere to get what they needed. Many were beginning to “look here first”.

Part of the campaign has been to encourage businesses to connect with customers in new and different ways, advertise the person behind the business and what they love about the Eastern Bay.

One idea has been for each business to create a short video to be shared on partners’ various social media channels.

A video has already been making the rounds on social media featuring the three district mayors and business owners from across the Eastern Bay.

Leonie Moeke, owner of Presentables, featured in the video and said it was a “fantastic campaign”.

She said she would not like the concept of shopping local to just be a phase and would like to see the momentum and support carry on into the future.

“The spin-off of shopping local is huge for the community,” she said.