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The NZ Initiative's Roger Partridge says NZ should leverage opportunities to attract foreign students and sports competitions from its virus subduing strength

The NZ Initiative's Roger Partridge says NZ should leverage opportunities to attract foreign students and sports competitions from its virus subduing strength
Picture: Bundesliga official website.

By Roger Partridge*

In a world infected with a lethal virus, being virus-free is like being bullet proof. The coronavirus may have enveloped the globe, but it has been repelled by New Zealand’s five million-strong force field.

New Zealand’s newfound strength has come at a high cost. Hotels are empty. Tourist attractions lie dormant. And the country’s $5 billion export education sector is in tatters. Together, the two sectors make up almost a quarter of New Zealand’s exports.

A significant portion of the tourism losses will be made up if New Zealand opens its borders with Australia in an ANZAC bubble. If the Government, airlines and airports can construct effective quarantine procedures at the border, the prospects of engaging with the world beyond Australia look enticing.

Reviving the international education sector is an obvious first step. As the Initiative recommended this month in Open for minds: export education and recovery, capitalising on New Zealand’s Covid-19-free status by reopening to foreign students would allow the $5 billion export education sector to expand in response to the current crisis.

Beyond international education, professional sport may be an unlikely winner. Nils Coberger, head coach of the New Zealand men’s ski team, reports unprecedented interest from international ski teams wanting to train in New Zealand this winter.

Teams are keen to come here because the European World Cup season was cut short at the end of February. With the Winter Olympics only 20 months away, teams can make up for the lack of ‘on-snow’ training in the Northern Hemisphere.

Skiing is the tip of the iceberg. The Bundesliga football competition is desperate to restart to secure the television rights German football clubs need to stave off bankruptcy. Billions of euros are at stake. Yet, despite players and staff self-isolating, German football seems unable to sidestep Covid-19.

Sport New Zealand should invite the entire league to New Zealand, have them spend 14 days in quarantine and then fire up the “Bundesliga down-under.” What a boon that would be for hotels and the wider travel and hospitality industries!

With no need for big stadiums, perhaps other leagues and sports could be invited too. Britain’s rugby season is on hold. So is the Six Nations. New Zealand could host these as well.

Better yet, how about an open invitation to any sports league interested in broadcasting games from beneath New Zealand’s Covid-free cloak and willing to meet the costs of mandatory, well-monitored quarantining?

Covid-19 has weakened New Zealand’s economy. But eradicating it has given the country new strength. We should use it.

*Roger Partridge is chairman of public policy think tank The New Zealand Initiative. This article first ran here.

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Thia articial could go on and on about different groups that would want to relocate here to sit this out.
A lot of high end individuals.
The over 60 at risk group.
The scared who can afford it.

Q'town with an international airport, high bed availability, good infrastructure, geographic location that can be contained, could be an ideal location to take on a massive quarantine roll.
The spin offs to NZ would be massive in the short, medium and long term.

Actually a great idea. To help sell it we rename as 'Old Zealand'.

Or you could allow NZers to actually enjoy their own country...
Queenstown has had an explicit f@#k NZers model for a long time. The people that have acted like that should go out of business. New businesses will spring up with new behaviors. We ate from a very expensive QT restaurant last night: the food was utter garbage. Only with mass tourism do you get away with something like that masquerading as high end.

I agree...We need to be outward looking to make the most of our natural advantages.

We do however need business people to step up to the plate to facilitate this, as the capital necessary is beyond the scope of most.

I do like the environment investment this (forward thinking) government has initiated. This requires low skills, and potentially will deliver jobs fast to those out of work from tourism and other fields. Nothing wrong with enhancing our waterways and developing more bush walks for local and international people (in the future). This has the potential to spread the cake wider, and take pressure away from existing hot spots.

I hate to say it, the rapid growth of Queenstown has spoilt the appeal for me. Who likes congestion and overpriced everything when on holiday?

Meanwhile, all National (lead by Nobby) can only come up with is advocating for more asset sales to foreign investors looking for bargains. Let the greedy overseas banksters take the fall, unlike Solid Energy and Crafer Farms that sponsored Westpac - Jonkey & Simon Power can you hear me? If there are going to be bargains, let the locals have them so the future profit stays in the country.

Indeed - National were recently yelling about "putting a mortgage on our children and grandchildren's future" in what vied for their most self-unaware words ever. Yet their grand plan is to sell the best of NZ out from under NZ's children and grandchildren.

I am suspicious as to whether they are actually concerned about a mortgage on our children and grandchildren's future, or whether the concern is that unlike climate change the worst effects of this present crisis are not effects they themselves can avoid and leave for others.

This is a brilliant article! As a football fan I particularly like the idea of getting football teams down here for mini tournaments

NZ on show. The marketing of NZ to the globe would be insane.
It would take a hell of a sting out of this situation.

That soccer idea that seems so dumb on the surface could make sense. No sports team would be willing to compete without at least 2 weeks training - so just designate a hotel/quarantine per team. And if we aim it for the best of Europe - can Auckland have my three teams: Aberdeen, Ipswich Town and Lille FC.

You couldn't have teams in quarantine bubbles. What if one person has it then passes it on to several other team members at day 5, the other team members aren't sick until day 14 when they are free to roam and infect locals.

Maybe you could have some work around with quarantine for 7 days and everyone is tested

I see what you ean but it is unlikely. The rule would be all must pass quarantine before any allowed to play.

Hmm Lapun, I'm not sure those teams are anywhere near the best in their own countries let alone Europe. If on the other hand my 51 year support of Liverpool FC was to be rewarded by traipsing to Eden Park to watch them, then 100% behind this idea!!
Actually curious how you could arrive at such a combo of teams to follow.

To make the most of this opportunity how soon should we act. Australia and other countries could soon be in the same position as nz

As per usual weeks ago. It was fairly clear where this was going over a month ago.

Exactly. nz will be left with the crumbs rather than the main event. Maybe a chance for sky to earn revenue and save its failing company

If something like thia was to happen it would have to go to private enterprise. There is not a snowflakes chance in hell that Labour could pull this off.. or National

Just remind those Europeans that Australia is home to ten of the dozen most dangerous snakes in the world and NZ has no snakes.

And don't forget tell them about the bushfires either.

Parts of Australia may be hotter all year round, but its going to get hotter which does nothing to assist with water supply.

Ozzy and parts of NZ are in for a world of pain with rainfall and heat. I can't believe the locals can't see it coming and sell up and move to NZ.

Don't want them here.

An out of the box marketing idea, as long as the Mandatory isolation is water tight this is the silver lining to the wonderful management/leadership Jacinta and Co have done. I'm no COL supporter but credit where credit is due ! I HOPE THE GOVERNMENT PICK THIS UP AND RUN WITH IT !!!

Best just to flick it off to private enterprise ao ot gets done and done fast.

With all their will this govt cannot even organise ppe and vaccines.. there is no chance of pulling together events

So far left field for any Labour Labour Govt that they will just not fathom it, let alone deliver...

Totally on board with this. Sir Paul Callaghan always talked about making new Zealand the place where talent wants to live, this is our chance.

Repatriate our best and brightest, poach top university professors and students, graduates and high growth companies.

The offer is compelling - two years minimum of living with the threat of COVID or back to life as normal in a stable, peaceful and safe bolthole in the South Pacific.

We'll need to significantly tighten our immigration and foreign ownership rules so there's real value creation and investment (not just hovering up property and existing businesses).

Not to sound too much like Cindy but, let's do this!

Other countries may get things under control but judging by shopping in Auckland today we are the only mask free country. Even top professors when young and randy prefer to see the face of the person they are meeting. "NZ home of the brainy sex-mad academic" - that must be the best recruiting message ever. But first we need to dump all our less brainy, old or ugly professors.

WP tweeted a picture of him on a plane wearing a mask . with a caption not required but better safe than sorry

He's got a straw down into his hip flask.

When NZ is a coronavirus-free bubble, no-one can come in. If anyone goes out, they have to be quarantined on their return.
No visiting tourist has 2 weeks of free time to sit in quarantine.

Yes they do. Professional sportsmen can train for a competition as they always do. Tourists can be quarantined on luxury vessels in the harbour. It is only a matter of different classes of quarantine - allow private firms to provide quarantine services but supervised by dept of health. The real problem is the quarantine on returning to country of origin.

Scratch the ships. CV19 and ships arent a great mix.

“New strength”??? That’s a sick joke. Viruses are never eliminated, and this one is barely worse than the flu. The lockdown will be viewed in the future as arguably the worst Political decision in NZ’s history. Depression will be worse than the 30s and the human cost will be unimaginable. No amount of tinkering now with idiotic schemes will repair the damage already done. When the population wake up next year they’ll be angry.

I was angry before lock down.


He had to drive through the Hamilton. Fair enough, it'll get anyone down.

Beautiful waikato countryside and farms. Lots of flat land for brand new homes and keeping chippies chirpy :)

No wonder not many make it out of Alk. They make it to the Waikato and it kind of smells like Rotoura but they see the bloody cows and realise it's not sulphur they can smell.

Au contraire kezza, you feign ignorance. After a day on the tools in dunners how do you smell but unless you gonna stand in cow shit in the middle of a dairy shed you'll have no worries here. Did anyone tell you Dunedin had its day in the 1800s now the only thing you have thats worth anything is the covered stadium.

Piss take mate. Good solid hard bugga's up there.
The mighty Wiakato is all good. After 10 years crusing arround the world I'm blown away what we have in NZ.
Not many places in the world where you can hunt and fish without the BS nittie gritty laws that try and control every last aspect of it removing the spontaneity of it.
Just packing up to go bush for a day or two.

Hunting is a dangerous business no shooting yourself in the foot or shooting up either eh. Hope it goes well, what game you targeting.

Super power or fragility?

I would have thought a super power would be the first country to have herd immunity? I.e. Taleb's thoughts on anti-fragile.

How much extra would this cost a student without government subsidies? >5k chartered flight here, >10k government monitored quarantine in isolation (can't have one infected person resetting the groups quarantine) and who knows how much if you need to go home out of sync with the end of semester or get deported.

If your going to make millions (playing sport) or have multi millionaire parents or backers coming here can make sense but for a 19-20 year old student leaving his parents home for the first time it's reckless to invite them here with no ability to go home, what happens if they change their mind about their studies, or lose their student visa for any reason. Do they need to pay a 250k bond so they can go home in a reasonable time-frame? There is no way the government wont have to subsidise this. Just give the uni's a one-off payment to cover this years unexpected costs if they can prove they need it.

How ironic that the NZD is dropping like a stone but nobody can come here.

Some sports are already restarting, the NASCAR series starts racing again on the 17th of May for example.

I suspect Australia will snap up opportunities before New Zealand. Their government seem more inclined to take measured risk. Ours will want to preserve the status quo until at least the next election.

While in principle it may look like a good idea, this may put in risk the same fact is trying to leverage.

The education sector has been motivated by greed and profits which has created the great dependency from overseas students and degraded the quality of education, this must change.

Fantastic idea that is as sensible as checking all arrivals temperatures in March and about as likely to be implemented.

Surprised this article doesn't mention the film and streaming industries. The global industry is really struggling to film anything at the moment, cast and crew could be quarantined for 2 weeks, some shows and films take months and months to film anyway, NZ can offer some varied locations and sets. We have pre and post-production services already here. The whole thing is ready to go.

And the actors can kiss without wearing masks.

Seconded. This was the subject of one of Paul Henry's segments this last week.

Don't they require huge subsidies and cheap labour policy to be here? Or has that changed from previous?

The delusion of kiwi exceptionalism never dies.

The rest of the world isn't an apocalyptic wasteland with everybody cowering in fear.

Even London, which had ~10% of it's population infected is now down to just 24 new cases a day and it's expected to be wiped out in weeks and they did it without the stupidly overkill lockdown that we had.

Likewise the most of the rest of Europe. It's going back to normal with roughly the same restrictions as New Zealand at Level 2.

Our media and "think tanks" feed us an endless banquet of kiwi exceptionalism and we lap it up like idiots. The truth is that we aren't special and the rest of the world doesn't really care.

We are in exactly the same position as most of Europe give or take a few weeks. Virus free with social distancing measures in place to prevent any reseeding.

ahhhh.... the old number 8 wire kiwi ego.... how very sad.

24 cases in london... I thought it must be a typo but you are right. What's more amazing is that they didnt need goddess JA to do it. I think other countries that adopted a less rigid response will be less paranoid than us and probably open travel with other countries sooner. According to our advice we have to wait for a vaccine to be developed first

3560 new cases in the UK yesterday and 384 deaths. I dont think the numbers between uk & europe to NZ are comparable at all. Not by a bulls roar.

Of course they are. Because the epidemic is under control and the numbers are halving every few days.

London locked down. Oh, and now looks like they're freeing up more pedestrian space too...

Things that have both been railed against by NZ's Facebook keyboard warriors as both "COMMUNIST!" and "FASCIST!" at the same time.

Just have us go back to ground level. Don't worry about tourism dollar. Kiwis spend fortunate overseas too. Keep selling a covid free product. As that could bring a bonus dollar. Risk is by the way not something political people do, other wise they would have a job like you.

Knock the risk off, deliver the dollars to NZ. It's the second half that they have an issue with getting their head arround.

Mate we just put all our eggs in the we won't open borders without a virus cure basket. maybe a year or two away.... remember we had l4 with a 50 billion price tag...if we don't follow through now what a waste if time.

Stupid article.. International students were bad business, still is.bad business.
The lie was international students supported the schools and universities. Reality was the taxpayer funded facilities supported international students.
Another rort on the taxpayer.
Queenstown is a mess. Infrastructure cost dumped on the few ratepayers, but far far behind. The industry benefited but 'socialised' those costs. Wages for New Zealanders forced down by desperate imported labour, in turn exploited.

Exactly. Local taxes paying for things locals were essentially locked out of due to high cost and a crush of visitors. Endless migrant labor driving down local pay. Now the migrant workers are demanding to stay and be kept on welfare!