Looking for a great way to thank essential workers and support local business at the same time?

Thanks to Say Thanks Taupō, now you can.

Say Thanks Taupō is an initiative set up by local businesswomen Kim Manunui and Nina Manning as a way for the community to thank all those workers - at supermarkets, pharmacies, hospitals, in health, transport, police, security and other areas - who kept our local area functioning and safe while everybody else was in alert level four lockdown.

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But it's not just those who are officially essential workers. Mums, teachers, neighbours - anybody can receive a message and gift from Say Thanks Taupō.

From flowers to cupcakes, there are many different ways you can say thanks to somebody who deserves it. Gifts start from $21 for six coffees and go up to $48 for a take-home family meal.

The website saythankstaupo.org.nz will step you through the process. First, you select a gift provided by a local business, and purchase it on the website. Then, you nominate an essential worker or organisation and add your message. Finally, a volunteer collects your gift and delivers it to the recipient with a card and thank you message, for free.

Say Thanks Taupō is 100 per cent not-for-profit and all the money from purchases goes directly to the local business providing the gift.

Kim says the idea came to her when alert level three began and she saw all the messages about shopping local, and lots of other messages expressing gratitude for the work done by essential workers.

"I married the two up and I thought 'how can we support local businesses and say thank you at the same time?" she says.

"So I did the website in three days and it was a matter of getting in touch with a few local businesses I thought had gift kind of products and wanted to make it happen really quickly. We thought 'we'll just pull it together and give it a go'."

Kim donated her time to build the website and Nina looked after the ordering and payments side, and organised deliveries for free. Graphic designer Ash Stephens of Finick Creative came up with a logo, graphics and a thank-you card, which Shawn Vennell at Quality Print produced at no charge. The pair recruited a couple of local volunteer delivery drivers to drop off the gifts so businesses did not have to pay a delivery fee.

"The businesses get 100 per cent of the value minus the credit card transaction fee, so it's just like they've had an online sale themselves."

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Kim says though uptake during level three was high, at around five orders per day, it has dropped off in level two, which was expected. She says the website will keep running in the meantime and has potential to carry on if there is demand.

She adds that the person doesn't have to be an essential worker to qualify for a Say Thanks Taupō gift.

"There's no definition of an essential worker - it can be someone like your mum or a neighbour who has helped you through at this time."

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