New World Whitianga Deploys Waka Kai to Deliver Groceries to Cut Off Areas in the Coromandel

20 February 2023

New World Whitianga Deploys Waka Kai to Deliver Groceries to Cut Off Areas in the Coromandel

Foodstuffs North Island, the 100% New Zealand owned and operated co-operative behind
PAK’nSAVE, New World and Four Square in the North Island, has been delivering essential supplies into cyclone affected regions by truck, Unimog, helicopter and now - boat. 

Waka Kai, a 9-metre vessel owned and operated by New World Whitianga, has been sailing across the Coromandel region, delivering essential goods to communities that have been left without access to grocery stores due to damaged roads and other infrastructure. The team has been visiting nine different areas including Opito Bay, Kuatotunu, Matarangi, Whangapoua, Kennedy Bay, Cooks Beach, Hahei, Tairua and Pauanui.

Speaking about the initiative, Foodstuffs North Island, Chief Executive Chris Quin said: "We’re committed to serving our communities through our local family-owned stores, and we understand access to essential goods is critical during times of crisis. Waka Kai is an important contributor to our efforts to support the Coromandel region during this difficult time."

Waka Kai is stocked with a range of essential grocery items, including fresh produce, dairy, meat, and other household essentials. The team has been working closely with local authorities and community groups to identify areas in need of support, and to coordinate the delivery of goods to those who need them most.

Kerry Stanley, Owner Operator of New World Whitianga first introduced Waka Kai in 2019 as a summer offering to help locals and holiday makers beat traffic. He says: “After the cyclone, as soon as it became safe, I wanted to get Waka Kai out on the water to check people were ok and to help resupply our cut off communities. To give you an idea, there’s about 500 people who live at Cooks Beach which is just 3km from Whitianga by sea, compared to 35km of road that’s now full of slips.  Our first day was quite emotional and challenging. We had debris to get through and were the first people from the ‘outside world’ some of these communities had seen or heard from for four days.

They don’t have any internet access so we’ve basically going back to pen and paper orders. We’ve also had customers who don’t know they’re getting orders because they’ve got family members who’ve ordered for them. Customers have been very grateful for the service and of course our deliveries have been free of charge.

The response from local communities has been overwhelmingly positive, with many residents expressing their gratitude for the initiative. “The family ordered us groceries, it’s the best thing ever this boat, it really is. So thank you very much”, said resident, Rachel Boyd

Foodstuffs North Island has a long-standing commitment of supporting local communities and being HereforNZ and one of our promises is to make sure every New Zealander has access to food. Waka Kai is just one example of our efforts to make a difference to the lives of New Zealanders.  

Every locally owned New World and PAK’nSAVE has a direct link to at least one foodbank, food rescue, or social supermarket partner and we’ve been working with them and other community organisations and charities to honour this promise in the wake of the recent Auckland floods and Cyclone Gabrielle.  

In the last few weeks, our HereforNZ team has pledged over $300,000 worth of product, or cash funding to support the immediate need and in the coming days, we’ll be increasing our support as we work with our community partners.

The co-op will continue to monitor the situation in the Coromandel region, and will work with local authorities and community groups to provide ongoing support where it is needed most.