Francky Godinho was taking a break last night after two days of cooking, providing soup for Havelock Norh residents afflicted with gastro.

The award-winning chef and owner of St George's Restaurant says he realised over the weekend how bad the outbreak was when many of their clients rang and cancelled restaurant bookings.

"I realised this is big. It was affecting our own family members in Havelock North and we wanted to do something for the community. We grow our own vegetables and this year we grew nearly 500 pumpkins, so we started cutting some up and making soup."

Nearly 40 pumpkins went into the 130 litres of soup Mr Godhino and his family made and subsequently gave out or delivered yesterday.


"I added herbs and onion, cumin, ginger and turmeric for their anti-inflammatory properties and made most of the soup dairy and gluten-free. Pumpkin is a good, humble vegetable full of healthy sugars and our produce is organic - perfect for the ill and the elderly."

The only problem Mr Godinho had was how to get the soup to the people who needed it. That was where social media stepped in.

A request on Facebook was followed up with some radio promotion and before long St George's Restaurant's phones were ringing, mostly with people referring others - friends, neighbours and relatives - who were ill.

"People were coming through the doors to collect soup for others who were sick."

Mr Godinho's partner, Kathryn Ryan, and her sister, Melissa, first set up a pick-up point in Havelock North then they set out making deliveries to people who were too ill to leave their homes.

"Everyone has been really appreciative," says Ms Ryan. "One lady was in tears. We just wanted to do something, we have family too and know how hard it is with sick children and sick parents."

Havelock North resident Nicola McNally said having a meal delivered was "lovely".

Her three young children had been ill, the oldest since Thursday, and she said she felt fortunate a family member had thought of her and arranged the food to be delivered.

Heinz Watties is stepping up today, bringing 14 pallets of soup - more than 21,504 cans - to the Havelock New World car park in Porter Drive for distribution.

Heinz Watties group marketing manager Shelley Smith said: "to support during these tough times and to help aid in the recovery we will be giving away chicken soup. Just look for the big Toll truck and the Wattie's signage.

"Graeme Fisher will be on the ground with his volunteers, from 10am until the cans are gone. Please help us by sharing with family and friends you have in the Havelock North area, and encouraging them to head down and collect some."