A special shopping trolley designed for children with disabilities has made its official New Zealand debut at a local supermarket.

Jo Ellis and her son Harvey, 7, from Waikaraka, were the first customers to test drive the new shopping trolley yesterday morning at Countdown Regent.

Harvey has Cri-du-chat syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes speech and cognitive delays, as well as problems walking.

To get around Harvey usually wears leg splints and sits in a wheelchair but this means his mother cannot push a normal shopping trolley and is limited to buying only what she can carry.


"I'm a single mother, so if I don't take Harvey with me shopping I have to use respite or interrupt my mother's day to have her watch him," said Ms Ellis.

However, Harvey loves to go shopping with Jo. "If I take him in his [wheel] chair it would take me four times longer ..."

The cart is designed for both children and teenagers and allows them to sit in an elevated seat, with a safety belt and locks.

Ms Ellis found out about Caroline's Cart organisation, which makes the trolleys, from an online support group and approached Countdown before the new store opened to see if they would be interested.

Countdown confirmed the Whangarei Regent store would soon have a cart.

Leah Petersen and Sheryl Kibblewhite from Northland disability support service, Tiaho Trust, went along too to see the cart.

They praised Ms Ellis for being proactive in getting on to Countdown to provide the cart.

This is the only cart of its kind in the country but Ms Ellis was hoping it would benefit enough shoppers so other supermarkets would invest in one.

"I think it's amazing that the first one is here in Northland but it's surprising that stores in bigger cities don't already have them."

The cart would be available to families shopping at the Regent branch but the store would keep it off display when not in use. "You can either ring us or come in and ask a staff member if you need to use it," said store manager Paul Ah Chong.