What started as facilitating the donation of masks to Fiji has turned into the One Million Masks project for Palmerston North's Venky Kannan.
The Rotary area governor and Porirua Rotarian Adrienne Murray have developed the project, which encourages people to donate a box of Lanaco masks to those who need them.
One Million Masks has been adopted by Rotary nationwide with the goal to provide a million masks to communities in need in New Zealand, Fiji and other Pacific islands.
Kannan says after masks were distributed through Rotary networks in Fiji, Delta arrived in New Zealand and Kiwi communities started asking for masks. "This is the need of the hour."
It costs $20 to donate a box of 10 masks that Rotary clubs will then distribute through non-profit groups and schools. For donations of $200 or more, your name can be printed on the boxes, and for a minimum donation of 800, your logo can be printed on the masks.
Fijian communities are still in need of masks, so 50 per cent of donated masks will go there to be distributed through Rotary clubs, and to other Pacific countries as required.
The project also has an educational goal to raise awareness of the right way to wear a mask and the most effective masks to filter out Covid aerosols, Kannan says.
Lanaco's New Zealand-made Brezy masks have a nose clip that prevents glasses fogging and ensures a secure fit, plus double head straps - one to go above the ears and one below. They are made of wool, making it easier to breathe, he says.
Mask wearing is becoming a hygiene practice just as having painkillers and sticking plasters in your bathroom cupboard.
Kannan predicts once the Auckland border goes there will be increased demand for masks that meet World Health Organisation criteria, particularly from people visiting vulnerable places likes rest homes and public transport users.
The masks are not washable but will last for seven to 10 days, he says. Auckland-based Lanaco is developing masks for children and is also doing research on biodegradable masks.
Lanaco product development engineer Ivan Buruk says to be effective a mask needs to seal well against the face and not have air leaking around the sides. It needs a filter that captures viral particles and it needs to be breathable.
Surgical and cloth masks don't offer high protection against Delta but are better than wearing nothing because they reduce some particles from being transmitted, Buruk says.
Lanaco is subsidising the donated masks by $10 a box.
Kannan has approached many Palmerston North organisations seeking support for the project. An example of his success is Massey University Students' Association ordering 1000 masks for students that will be branded with the MUSA and Rotary logos.
The year-long project started on October 1 and nearly 40,000 masks have already been donated.
• To donate to the project email email@example.com. Anyone can buy Brezy masks from shop.lanaco.co.nz.