Husbands, it is sometimes said, don't always get it exactly right when they gift shop for their wives, but Waiharara man Jock Anderson could not have done better when he presented his wife Carol with a sewing machine a couple of Christmases ago.

She has put the machine to good use indeed, particularly since the Covid-19 crisis began, producing close to 200 face masks.

It all began within the family, Carol making the first few for niece Rowena Critchley, Pukenui. She and her fellow police officer husband Darren were so impressed that they ordered more for the Kaitaia constabulary, Carol and her sister-in-law Karen Jones, Rowena's mum, manufacturing 16 between them. And she just kept going.

She had had "heaps" of material on hand — and had needed plenty, although the design wasn't complicated. It had been time-consuming though, and each mask had been made to be adjustable, ensuring a perfect fit. And every mask was free.


"I couldn't charge anyone," Carol said. "Everyone's in the same situation, and this is just something that I could do for other people."

Some of her masks had even gone overseas, to family in Australia.

Meanwhile a local man, who described himself as a grateful resident and the owner of the cleanest lungs in the Far North, said the pandemic had brought out the best in the community "in so many ways", Carol in particular.

"Prior to lockdown, PPE was in short supply. Masks, gloves and sanitiser were premium commodities," he said. "Out came the sewing machine, and Carol made hundreds of face masks for family, friends, the police, Ngāti Kuri, Waitomo Papakainga, and many more businesses that probably received them without knowing their maker.

"Cheers Carol ... and Jock, for making the umpteen cuppas needed for her sanity."