For families struggling, sometimes all they have is the donated food Ruahine Maori Warden Charlie Timu delivers.

"We've approximately 50 families who are really finding it tough and it means everything when I turn up with food," Charlie said.

"The kids just about grab bread out of my hands."

The food the Ruahine Maori Wardens distribute is donated by New World Supermarket owners Garry and Bridget Hassler and includes, bread, buns, sausage rolls, biscuits, sugar, dented tins, rice, cereals and flour.

Advertisement

The couple also support Dannevirke foodbanks before passing their surplus on to the Maori Wardens to distribute.

"The food is too good to waste, but the rules these days say we have to sell on the day. But it's still good," Mr Hassler said.

Charlie rebags sugar, flour, rice, cereals and biscuits before handing it out to those in desperate need.

"It's just about helping our community," she said. "And I work closely with the budgeting service to find families in need."

Shires Fruit and Vege Market also donate boxes of bananas when they are able to.
Deanna, the co-ordinator at Dannevirke and Districts Budget Services, works closely with Charlie as part of Zero Kai.

"If we can't get to the foodbanks, especially after hours, we can call Charlie," she said. "It's a huge service for our community, because sometimes that's all our families have. At the moment we have six on-going referrals but families may only need help for a week or so."

But it's not only food in their bellies Charlie delivers.

"Thank God I've got most of them up off the floor, they've now got beds, mattresses and blankets, thanks to the generosity of Graeme Eustace, the owner of Gebo's," she said. "And I help everyone, not just Maori."

Advertisement

That help extends to working at the courthouse and this week working in with the police to help a young man hand himself in at the police station, all the way through to making sure a rainy day doesn't mean getting wet for schoolchildren and their whanau.

"I pick up families walking home from school in the rain and our wardens help out at Saturday sports events, too," Charlie said.

But to carry out all the duties Charlie is looking for a volunteer administration person and extra wardens.

"We've got 10 at the moment, but many of them work fulltime, so having some extra help would be great."