The daughter of an elderly man who collapsed while waiting in line in New World has urged supermarkets to make vulnerable people a top priority during the country's lockdown.

Mount Albert resident Helen Grant told the Herald that she was angry with security staff members after she found out her 83-year-old father Peter Parfitt passed out from the wait in the heat at New Lynn's New World yesterday morning.

She said staff called him an ambulance after the incident and he arrived at Waitakere Hospital at 11.30am.

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The concerned daughter found out through a group chat with her three other siblings what had happened and picked him up from the hospital at 7pm after he was discharged.

She then recorded her father retelling his story as they walked out of the hospital.

"There was a long queue outside New World and it was a really long one," he said.

"I was wearing a jersey underneath this and it got too hot."

Grant then asked her father if the security staff saw him as he waited in line.

He replies that the line was moving until staff stopped people going in.

He said after waiting 20 minutes being third at the front of the queue it "all went south" and he collapsed.

Peter Parfitt, 83, said he collapsed while waiting in a queue at New Lynn's New World. Photo / Helen Grant
Peter Parfitt, 83, said he collapsed while waiting in a queue at New Lynn's New World. Photo / Helen Grant

Depending on the size of each store, supermarkets have limited the number of people who can enter to prevent the virus from spreading.


Grant said after the incident she spoke to a supervisor at New Lynn's New Worldand urged to make sure older people go first or even make them first priority with online deliveries.

"Hopefully, the supermarkets put rules in place [for vulnerable people]," she said.

"I know everyone is going through a terrible time, but use common sense."

She recommended staff members manning the door should also go down and check on those waiting in line and get those who are vulnerable to come to the front.

Before the lockdown, Grant said she bought her parents a bulk supply of food and urged for both of them to stay home. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

However, the daughter said miscommunication from her 74-year-old mother, who is Niuean and speaks broken English, caused her father to venture out and get some food.

The concerned daughter said she would be taking the lockdown seriously since what happened.

"I am going to be one doing everything for them until the lockdown is lifted," she said.

Grant added that she understands during the lockdown the elderly should stay home, but some don't have others to help them.

She added online delivery is hard for people who are not tech-savvy but said those who can help should do the online shopping for them.

In a statement to the Herald, Foodstuffs' head of corporate affairs Antoinette Laird said security were closed by when the man, who is a regular customer at New World New Lynn, collapsed while in the queue outside.

"One of the store's designated first aiders was quickly on the scene and assisted by customers in the queue, provided first aid support, an ambulance was called and the team stayed with the customer until the ambulance arrived," Laird added.

"All our stores are currently limiting the number of people in store to be able to observe the 2m physical distancing rules, which means there is sometimes a queue outside, as was the case in this instance."

Lair said the team in New Lynn regularly monitor the queue and check to see if customers need assistance.

"We do recommend elderly customers ask a friend or neighbour to shop for them if at all possible, or order online. We were very glad to hear the man is recovering and the store will be keeping an even closer eye on how customers are doing in the queue moving forward."

Ways the elderly can access groceries

Age Concern chief executive Stephanie Clare urged anyone over 70 to stay home instead of risking their health by going out.

She said if anyone was having trouble finding neighbours or loved ones to get groceries for them, they could call their local Age Concern office for help.

"We're hearing it's difficult for older people to get their food and medicines and stay connected," she said.

But there had been an influx of people calling Age Concern to volunteer their services, whether that be dropping off food or making calls to people who were alone at home.

The Student Volunteer Army was also stepping up to help.

Clare said there were some issues in making sure older people understood how serious coronavirus was, and that the lockdown would last for at least four weeks.

She told them to stay put at home.

"It's a nice safe place for you. This is only four weeks of a lifetime. This is what we need to do."

If anyone wanted to volunteer to help, they could call Age Concern, or they could donate on the website.

Grey Power national president Mac Welch said people needed to check on their elderly neighbours.

He said he was "no spring chicken", and had been called by numerous neighbours who wanted to help out by picking up groceries.

City residents were less likely to know their older neighbours, but should make an effort, he said.

"Persevere . . . get the groceries, get a loaf of bread or a pint of milk, leave it on the step."

He had been called by a few people who were concerned they could not get food for themselves, and has directed them to their local Grey Power association.

"Kia kaha, I mean, what else can you do?"