South Otago Lodge Owner Grateful for Samoan Meatworker Custom

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Samoan meat workers in the playroom at Thomas's Catlins Lodge and Camp Ground in Owaka on Wednesday, left to right, Misipati L Tautola, Valeli White, Papu Tavui and Petelo Simi.

Jan Atkinson / Supplied

Samoan meat workers in the playroom at Thomas’s Catlins Lodge and Camp Ground in Owaka on Wednesday, left to right, Misipati L Tautola, Valeli White, Papu Tavui and Petelo Simi.

Samoan Meat Worker Accommodation maintains cash flow for an Owaka accommodation business during Alert Level 4 lockdown.

Thomas’s Catlins Lodge and Camp Ground owner Jan Atkinson said the meat workers, in total about 30 and employed during the season at the Finegand meat factory, near Balclutha, and two laundry workers in a trailer were the only guests of the property.

Some of the meat workers found employment at Finegand during the off season, while others had free time.

“To be completely honest, if it wasn’t for them [staying], that would be hard enough [financially]Said Atkinson.

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Much of its business came from foreign tourists, but that stopped when Covid-19 forced New Zealand’s borders to close last year.

Samoan meat workers have been with Atkinson’s company for almost two years. During last year’s lockdown, around 50 of them lived there, Atkinson said.

Curio Bay Accommodation owner Daniela Stratford estimated she has received between 15 and 20 cancellations for this week or next due to the foreclosure.

“We were going to be busy, but we got a 100% cancellation… everyone’s gutted,” she said.

“There’s nothing you can do about it, that’s what it is.”

After last year’s lockdown ended, Stratford’s business had its busiest winter with Kiwis traveling across the country.

Her hosting business is not Stratford’s main source of income as she and her family are farmers and are currently busy lambing.

Slope Point Accommodation owner Justine Parker had received approximately 10 cancellations and no guests were currently staying.

“We are also on a farm and even if we do not welcome people [staying], we take care of the lambs and calves.

While the Owaka accommodation business she ran with her husband was shut down during the lockdown, Jenny Kinley’s part-time care work continued in southern Otago.

The couple run the Hilltop Accommodation Catlins, which can accommodate 15 people.

Three times a week, Kinley donned personal protective equipment when he administered personal care to five or six people at their home in Kaka Point.

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