When Waihī Ward councillor Anne Marie Spicer heard about a plan to end period poverty in the Hauraki District, her ears pricked up.

"I heard about this great thing some local businesswomen were doing and I knew it was exactly the kind of project the council would want to support," she said in a media statement.

Rachel Payne and Rebecca Cullimore set up Waihī business The Sustainable Pantry about four months ago.

As the name suggests, the business specialises in eco-friendly, healthy products without plastic packaging, such as menstrual cups.


Unlike traditional throwaway sanitary products which result in thousands of kilograms of waste over a woman's lifetime, the medical grade silicone cups can be reused each month and will last for years.

The women were sold on the environmental, health, and economic benefits of the cups, and wanted to make them available to everybody to try.

"We were aware some young women were missing school during their period because they couldn't afford to buy traditional sanitary products, and we knew the upfront cost of a menstrual cup would be too expensive for many, so we made them available at our shop for a gold coin donation," Payne said.

The uptake was huge. After the first shipment of cups flew out the door, Spicer encouraged the pair to apply for council funding to buy more.

Hauraki District deputy mayor Toby Adams said it was an easy decision for the council to fund a further 250 cups.

"I don't think there was even any discussion. It was 100 per cent yes from the council that we get behind this. Poverty is real in our towns. Waihi and Paeroa have some of the highest levels of deprivation in the country," Adams said.

"Blokes tend to run as far as they can when they hear about periods, but at the end of the day they're as natural as breathing for women, and having access to sanitary products is essential."

Future plans for Rachel Payne and Rebecca Cullimore included making the cups available at local schools, which Spicer said the council was also keen to support.

"This is a fantastic initiative that is better for the budget and the environment. People want to reduce waste, help each other, and look after the planet. Well done to the Sustainable Pantry for providing alternatives and options, we're behind you all the way."