Cyclone blamed for school uniform delay

By Nathan Crombie nathan.crombie@age.co.nz -
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The NZ Uniforms shop newly opened in Masterton hit some production delays in the wake of Cyclone Winston hitting Fiji and the homes of some NZ Uniforms contract workers. PHOTO/NATHAN CROMBIE
The NZ Uniforms shop newly opened in Masterton hit some production delays in the wake of Cyclone Winston hitting Fiji and the homes of some NZ Uniforms contract workers. PHOTO/NATHAN CROMBIE

The havoc Cyclone Winston wreaked on Fiji has been blamed for production delays that became a long-running headache for a Masterton mother and son.

Tiara Russo said she paid for a new Masterton Intermediate School uniform for her son but was still waiting for the kit to arrive. The school was retiring its old uniform this year and she and her son had been eager to get him decked out in the new strip.

She said her son, who was in Year 8, needed two pairs of shorts, two large polo tops, and matching PE gear. He had been wearing his old uniform from last year while waiting for the new-look outfit to arrive at the NZ Uniforms company shop in Masterton.

"I went in and bought his uniform at the start of the year so he could be in the new uniform. We're still waiting for it and he's still wearing his old uniform from last year and it's cruddy, buttons missing, stitching coming undone, stained."

She said her son was a child "who looks different and stands out already" and the old uniform was not making his lot any easier at a time when his behaviour and academic efforts were improving.

"This just makes things harder for him. Last week I was told the pants come from Fiji and the tops from China. Now I know it's a long way for the uniforms to come and the way the world is -- some things can't be helped -- but in the meantime there's nothing to make things better for my boy."

NZ Uniforms chief executive David Bunnell said the Masterton branch of his company had opened as the latest of 11 stores nationwide just before Christmas last year in the former Bryan's Furniture building near McDonald's Family Restaurant.

He said the company manufactured in New Zealand, Fiji and China and Cyclone Winston had interrupted production and delayed some orders since striking Fiji in February.

"They haven't been significant delays but there had been some weeks added to production. And it's not so much to do with the factories but more the homes of the workers that were affected. It's been more of an impact on the labour there."

He said tropical cyclone Zena was bearing down on Fiji and there was a renewed risk of production delays at garment factories based on the island.

His company retailed uniforms to more than 100 schools across New Zealand and eight Wairarapa schools including MIS, Fernridge, Greytown, Lakeview, St Mary's and St Patrick's schools and Makoura and Solway colleges.

He said the size large polo tops had been available for Ms Russo to buy for the past fortnight and as she decided to go for shorts in a size that was out of stock, a larger size was being taken in at the NZ Uniforms factory in Wellington and would be available within the week.

He said his Masterton retail crew were outstanding and "we're proud to be a part of the community in Masterton and we'd really like to have more Wairarapa schools as our clients".

He said the stocking delays affecting Ms Russo and her boy were partially over and would be completely resolved within days.

"We were only out of the one size for this particular customer, which was unfortunate. Usually if there is a lack of stock, we know about it and we work hard to restock pretty quickly.

"But that's the great thing about having a local manufacturing base in Wellington, is that we can turn urgent jobs around pretty quickly."

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