Around four tonnes of citrus fruit is on the way to Christchurch to help low-income Canterbury residents fight their winter woes thanks to the generosity of Northlanders.
Four Whangarei Lions clubs collected the fruit, including oranges, lemons, limes, tangelos, grapefruit and mandarins, was collected at the weekend in the second year of the Citrus for Christchurch campaign.
Last year, Christine Stephenson, who moved to Whangarei in 2012 from Christchurch where she had lived for 25 years, organised the first Citrus For Christchurch campaign. It sent well over two tonnes of fruit to the South Island city.
She got the idea when she saw the excess fruit around Northland and recalled how hard it was to get in Christchurch. Citrus is also good at helping fight the winter sniffles.
Whangarei, Onerahi, Hikurangi and Whangarei Hatea Lions clubs took up the challenge this year and spokesman Terry Ward said 229 banana boxes of citrus were brought in on Saturday and Sunday, or more than four tonnes of fruit.
Transport company Mainfreight had agreed to take the fruit south today at no charge and Mr Ward said the club members were blown away at the generosity of people bringing in their spare fruit.
He said the fruit would be gratefully received when it gets to Christchurch this week and there may be another collection later in the winter, but transporting it to Christchurch was an issue.
"We can't expect Mainfreight to keep giving us free transport, but we will let people know if we do organise another collection through the Advocate." he said.
The citrus will be distributed through "food together", a collective of groups and organisations who weekly work to supply fresh affordable produce to around 3000 families.
Most of the work is done by about 300 volunteers.
Eight packing hubs and more than 50 distribution hubs operate around Canterbury. Most are based in churches or community centres.
Craig Dixon, from food together, thanked everyone involved for their generosity, hard work and kindness.
"It is greatly appreciated by folk down here. Although it's been over four years now since the earthquakes, in many ways we're still in the middle of the aftermath. Roads are still stuffed in many places, houses and commercial buildings still being demolished and the inner city looks like a collection of gravel carparks," Mr Dixon said.
"In the middle of this slow recovery it's incredibly helpful to know that we are still remembered by people in other parts of the country.
The citrus will be gifted to those [low-income] families we work with. We'll also look to perhaps take some along to the City Mission."