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Taranaki boss gives workers free money to spend at local businesses through Covid-19 pandemic

A very generous boss in Taranaki decided to give all her employees some cash, but it came with one condition, they had one hour to go and spend it at a local business.

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Meredith Pick from accountancy firm McCallum & Dallas gave 11 employees $100 each to spend. Source: Seven Sharp

It was all about stimulating the local economy in the Taranaki town of Hawera.

Meredith Pick, boss at Hawera accountants McCallum and Dallas, decided to put the "buy" in "Buy Local".

Workers at the local accountants office had gone above and beyond during the lockdown but other businesses, like gift store Maple and Wild, were wondering about the future after Covid-19. 

"I guess it was that worry, are people going to stick with online, are they going to want to come back into shops?" Maple and Wild owner Amy Byers told Seven Sharp.

Lately Finance Minister Grant Robertson has been entertaining the idea of "helicopter money": Free cash to get people spending.

It reminded Ms Pick of something that happened at an old job.

"One Christmas they all gave us some money to spend, and said to go and spend it in the next hour, and we'd show everyone what we'd bought," she says.

Just out of lockdown, she called her 11 workers together, gave them $100 each and an ultimatum.

They had to go and spend it in the next hour.

"It was a really big surprise, it was a nice surprise," one worker says.

Her team hits the streets and the shops, spreading Christmas-y cheer a little early and some much needed cash.

"It was good for the staff," Ms Pick says.

"I was doing a nice thing for the staff, and you know, the local community was benefiting from it. The local businesses were getting it. So for me it was a twofold thing, really."

One of those shops was Ms Byers' Maple and Wild.

"I think it's amazing. We wouldn't be able to survive without those little things that people do," she says.