A Mount Maunganui fabric printing company is turning offcuts into 500 massive board games for families in need over the next few months and does not plan to stop.

When the country went into level 2 just before Covid-19 lockdown, the team at Mount Maunganui's Textiles Alive brainstormed what they could do with the excess fabric.

The printing company, which has felt the economic impact of the pandemic, made commercial fabric prints such as banners and portable exhibition flags pre-Covid.

When brainstorming ways to reduce its waste, the community was at the forefront of their minds, co-owner and director John Heyworth said.

Textiles Alive co-owners Debbie and John Heyworth. Photo / George Novak
Textiles Alive co-owners Debbie and John Heyworth. Photo / George Novak

"We thought rather than waste fabric, we'll do up some games that can go to the right people."

While the games - chess, noughts and crosses, checkers - were classics, the fabric boards, measuring up to three metres by 1.5m, were far from ordinary.

An element of arts and crafts is involved and children can cut out either their playing pieces or fabric cars for a large road track.

Heyworth said they had to wait until after level 4 restrictions lifted and then got in touch with the Tauranga Foodbank which will include the games in some of the food parcels it delivers to families in the city

The company will continue to do this with its fabric scraps, expanding to other charities in the area as well as potentially going nationwide.

Textiles Alive co-owners Debbie and John Heyworth. Photo / George Novak
Textiles Alive co-owners Debbie and John Heyworth. Photo / George Novak

"It's tough times for a whole bunch of people at the moment and if you can make life a bit easier for parents and happiness from kids, it's just fantastic."

The company also partnered with Auckland business Snood, which makes a product by the same name that is also known as a buff or neck gaiter and is used to cool or warm the neck and head area.

Growers Direct and Manuka RX have sponsored the Tauranga business' Snood printing and Heyworth said he hoped more businesses and local Government would jump on board to help see the Snood become an alternative to face masks.


Heyworth said they will be printing the designs on the fabric and will donate snoods to Foodbank staff to help keep them warm and covered as it gets colder.

The partnership has meant all 12 full-time staff will be able to keep their jobs and Heyworth said more jobs could be created if the product took off.

Foodbank manager Nicki Goodwin said the only sad thing was that Heyworth and his team would not be able to see the faces of families when they opened their food parcel to find the game.

She said the high-quality product showed forward-thinking; not only by using fabric that would otherwise go to waste but generosity in channelling the idea into helping others.

"Talk about the icing on the cake going in the food parcels."