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Local Focus: Supermarket vouchers help cyclone victims restock cupboards

After spending more than a month living in their car post-cyclone, Pākōwhai’s Tessa Pickering and her partner are “grateful” for their new tiny house.

The one-bedroom home has a fully equipped kitchen, a lounge and a small bathroom.

“Our previous house was gutted. It was a five-bedroom, two-bathroom house. So we’ve gone from enormous to very, very small. But I’m grateful for what we have now,” Pickering said.

Not only have the family lost their house and all its contents, they also lost life-long memories: “I think the hardest thing coming through was sorting baby photos that are stuffed. What’s your life going through, ended up in black rubbish bags.”

Many families like hers need help to get back to normal with somewhere to live, food and the basic essentials.

Pak’nSave supermarkets are offering gift cards to those affected to help them restock their pantries.

“All the North Island stores have donated to the ‘Pak Your Pantry’ fund, which in total comes to about $575,000,” Tamatea store owner and operator Andrew Graney said.

The fund will be allocated to families across Hawke’s Bay, the Coromandel, Gisborne, Wairoa, Northland and Auckland. The dollar value is based on the size of the family, with a whānau of two adults and two children receiving $600 and a larger whānau receiving $800.

In Hawke’s Bay, the gift cards are distributed by Pak’nSave’s community partner, Nourished for Nil.

Founder Christina McBeth said Nourished for Nil had received about 150 applications: “It does take a bit of time to get through them, because we also ask people to tell us a little bit about their story.”

It wanted to make sure those who were struggling were receiving the vouchers.

Eighty gift cards have been given out, and there are about 300 more for which people can apply online.

Pickering received a $600 gift card, which she said would go toward baking supplies and day-to-day essentia


“Money is tight and all the insurance hasn’t come through. So we’re watching every penny that we have and spending wisely,” she said.

When the cyclone hit, Pak’nSave Tamatea became a temporary shelter for locals.

Graney said the store was fully powered and able to keep its refrigeration running, among other essential services.

“We also had full Wi-Fi and network coverage, one of the biggest things that people were looking for at the time.

“We were also one of the few areas that was still able to manage our fuel situation. We had people queuing outside. We were being very careful about sort of managing the amount of product that we could sell.”

The re-opening of State Highway 5 has restored the food supply for Hawke’s Bay to normal. But for Pickering and many others, there’s still a long way to go. article supplied by NZ Herald:

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