A trip to the Cook Islands sparked an idea for a kindergarten fundraiser which is also helping reduce the amount of rubbish ending up in Northland landfills.

During a visit to Muri night market on Rarotonga, Laurell Simm, whose children go to Kerikeri Kindergarten, noticed a local school was raising money through a rent-a-cup scheme.

Instead of drinking from a disposable cup, coffee stand customers could "rent" a ceramic cup for a small fee.

"I thought it was a really cool idea," Simm said.


Now the owners of Kerikeri's Old Packhouse Market have allowed the kindergarten to operate a similar scheme at the Saturday market, cutting waste and raising money for the kindy. Customers who opt for a re-usable cup make a small donation, typically 50 cents or $1.

Parents donated a range of cups and mugs — ''we wanted an eclectic mix, just like our community'' — and take turns to collect the used cups on Saturday afternoon, wash them, and return them the following Friday.

"They do hundreds of coffees a day in summer so it could be a good little fundraiser. And it's nicer drinking coffee from a ceramic cup," Simm said.

Head teacher Jo Johanson said the market's owners were "really on board".

"It's a bit more work for them but it's a win-win because it reduces waste and supports the community. We saw it as a way the kindergarten could raise money and send a message about living sustainably."

Kerikeri Kindergarten is part of the Enviroschools and Garden to Table programmes. Money raised by the rent-a-cup scheme will pay for more plants for the kindy's vegetable garden, new ferns for the fernery, and glassware to replace plastic cups.