Businesses around the Linwood Mosque in Christchurch are closing their doors as they struggle in the aftermath of the March 15 massacre.
They claim to have lost thousands of dollars since they were cordoned off in the terror attack but are being told they’re not eligible for any financial support.
They told Newshub the Government has completely forgotten about them.
After a nightmare four months, beauty business owner Trish Bailey is opening up shop for just two more weeks.
For her, Jacinda Ardern’s words following the massacre – “we are one” – have a hollow ring to them.
“We are one? No we are not. Sorry. That’s how I feel and that’s how Jacinda portrayed it. We are one and we are together? Well we’re not.”
On March 15 with seven people killed at the mosque a cordon went up around the area and kept surrounding shops shut for 10 days. The businesses took an instant hit.
And while the cordon is now down, business owners say they’ve never recovered. While they’re lucky they didn’t lose their lives they are frustrated that now they’re losing their livelihoods.
Shane Lilley says his pawn shop is making half of what it was before the shooting. He’s had to take out a $25,000 loan just to survive.
“It’s a worry but we’re going to press on and carry on because we need to and unfortunately some of the other businesses are worse off than we are,” he says.
One of those worse off is the ‘Rent to Own’ shop just two doors down.
Donna O’Melley’s just been told, she’s lost her job after 18 years. Her employer is being forced to call it quits with profits halving month on month since the attack.
“People ring up and say ‘oh I want to rent to own’ and you explain what they need to bring down. ‘Oh I don’t want to come down into Linwood’.”
In documents obtained by Newshub the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says the 12 businesses in close proximity to Linwood Mosque do not need emergency business support, writing that no employees have been laid off and business has returned to normal.
However Councillor Yani Johanson says that’s just not the case.
“My understanding is it’s pretty critical for a number of the businesses,” he says.
“There has been significant financial loss and there is also the huge trauma associated with such an attack so I think the Government does need to provide support.”
And while he understands local authorities are asking the Government to reconsider their ruling, it’ll be too little too late for some.
Having a mosque in the neighbourhood just might be too much for some “of us” It was a one off shooting, but who knows?