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Foodstuffs North Island Here for NZ Fund crosses borders to support Tongan relief efforts

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Foodstuffs North Island has mobilised it's Here for NZ Fund to donate $50,000 worth of product to support the disaster relief efforts in Tonga.

The co-operative’s supply chain team is working alongside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), who is leading the emergency response in New Zealand, to help to ensure the things most needed such as food, water and first aid will be accessible for the people of Tonga.

The MFAT New Zealand relief effort requested the value be given in food donations as Tonga struggles with food availability in the aftermath of the eruption and tsunami.

Responding to requests from the Government of Tonga, priority items such as rice, canned fish, canned corned beef, canned meat and vegetables have been provided by Foodstuffs North Island to be transported to Tonga by the New Zealand Defence Force.

Due to a blanket of volcanic ash covering gardens and much of Tonga’s local food source the Tongan Government is urgently seeking non-perishable foods for their community.

Matt Heap, owner operator of PAK’nSAVE Thames and Chair of the Foodstuffs North Island Here for NZ Committee says the co-operative’s commitment to supporting its people doesn’t end at the border.

"A lot of our team members hail from Tonga and being Here for NZ means making sure our team members know the things that matter to them, matter to us too. It also means when New Zealand steps up and responds to a natural disaster in our backyard, we recognise we have a responsibility to do our bit too."

The Foodstuffs North Island Here for NZ fund, which is supported by all North Island PAK’nSAVE, New World, Four Square and Gilmours stores, is a way for Foodstuffs North Island to come together rapidly to support communities in times like these says Matt.

"It’s great to be able to work together and create a fast, coordinated and effective response, that means we can play our part in supporting Tonga."

In addition to the $50,000 value contribution, many Foodstuffs North Island owner operators and team members are also contributing to the relief mission and providing items for their communities across Tonga.

Distribution Centre Manager Francis Faalili says there is a strong tie to Tonga from the Foodstuffs North Island whanau.

"A lot of us have family over there and are of course worried about them and the wider community. It’s a really nice feeling to know that Foodstuffs North Island recognises it’s a distressing time for us and to make such an effort to help out in this time means a lot, especially when we can’t be there to help first-hand."

"Foodstuffs North Island is a genuine family and they’ve really stepped up to help our Pacific brothers and sisters as they try and get through this extremely challenging time. It means a lot to our Tongan team members to know the support is there and it’s going to really make a difference."

Part of the donation has been sent out to Tonga from the Air Force Base in Whenuapai, with the rest set to leave Devonport Naval base this week.

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