Brendon Collins loves his job as warehouse manager at Tauranga Community Foodbank.

His friendly, bearded face is a familiar one at the Brook St service. As one of the charity's two part-time employees he is there each day helping manage orders, stock shelves, drive the van, or simply fill bags with flour or rice, ready for packing.

It is a role with many hats, and one which Collins did not originally imagine for himself.

Inside the foodbank's office area, Collins' towering 195cm frame dwarfs the communal coffee-break table. He hesitantly takes a seat, confessing he's not big on being the centre of attention.

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It is not long before any apprehension is a memory and the gentle giant reveals his biggest motivation behind his involvement - his late wife Roseanne.

"She got sick in 2000 but very sick in 2011," he said.

Collins, who operated his own distribution business, explains how he transformed their Tauranga home into a hospital and became his wife's full-time carer for four years.

"It was very complicated and complex," he said.

"There were 70-80 tablets a day. She was pretty strong. Without her strength, I wouldn't have been able to do it,"

Tauranga Community Foodbank warehouse manager Brendon Collins loves his job, even if he didn't see himself here. Photo / George Novak
Tauranga Community Foodbank warehouse manager Brendon Collins loves his job, even if he didn't see himself here. Photo / George Novak

Collins said the loss of his wife was "absolutely" a factor in his role at the Tauranga Foodbank, helping provide help to those in need.

"It has changed me. It's not that I didn't have it in me but it changed my focus."

Collins has a background as a business owner, warehouse supervisor and account manager. In May 2015, he knocked on the foodbank's door and has not looked back.

"I started mainly just packing food. Then the position came up to drive the van for one day a week. Then, really quickly, I realised I could be useful in the office and I became a relief manager over Christmas and other certain times of the year to help out."

Over the past three years, Collins has helped the foodbank cope with unprecedented demand as the cost of living for many in this rapidly growing city becomes too much. He was also involved when the foodbank was faced with paying rent for the first time after toxic black mould forced the service from its from Dive Cres site last year.

Tauranga Community Foodbank warehouse manager Brendon Collins (right) get into the festive spirit with manager Nicki Goodwin. Photo / file
Tauranga Community Foodbank warehouse manager Brendon Collins (right) get into the festive spirit with manager Nicki Goodwin. Photo / file

In recent weeks, Collins has helped the team find the funding and the people to install much-needed insulation into the Brooke St site.

When the Tauranga Community Foodbank board created a second part-time role to help run the operation four months ago, Collins was appointed.

These days, Collins wields his business skills to negotiate deals with suppliers for the foodbank.

Sometimes it's getting the best price on bulk goods, other times its taking advantage of the batch of pasta sauces that had the label printed upside down and can't be sold.

Tauranga Community Foodbank warehouse manager Brendon Collins loves his job, even if he didn't see himself here. Photo / George Novak
Tauranga Community Foodbank warehouse manager Brendon Collins loves his job, even if he didn't see himself here. Photo / George Novak

His efforts often pay off with huge hauls of deliveries.

"It just makes sense," he said.

But Collins is quick to add the foodbank is not about him. It's about the volunteers, and it's about the recipients.

"It's the people really," he said.

"There's no hidden agenda. No cliquey groups. Everyone has empathy for the people. It's really cool."

Collins grins.

"I'm happy here."

The Acorn Foundation and Lotto New Zealand fund Collins' role and that of foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin.