They have been unable to come ashore, but that hasn't stopped crew members of visiting ships enjoying some Kiwi kindness and hospitality while they have been in port.

With Covid-19 restrictions meaning crew members of international vessels berthing in the port can't take shore leave, Port Taranaki staff have been doing their bit to make the ship-bound seafarers feel welcomed.

Port Taranaki staff have funded and organised "goodie bags" containing chocolates, coffee, deodorant, muesli bars and more to give to crews of vessels berthed in the port.

The crew of bulk carrier the Nong Lyla, which has come from Singapore, received the gifts on Friday last week, and Port Taranaki head of operations Captain Ashley McDonald says some of those crew members have not been on dry land for almost a year, due to Covid restrictions around the world.

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"Around the world, seafarers have being doing it tough due to the restrictions on shore leave at most international ports. For example, some of the crew of this vessel have not stepped off the ship in 10 months."

Being ship-bound for so long is not easy, he says.

"Just try to imagine not leaving your worksite for that length of time, not being able to take your shoes off and feeling grass or sand between your toes, and not having the chance to be more than a few metres from another human being."

He says it is vital ports continue to follow all Covid-19 protocol to help prevent the spread of the virus.

"Throughout the pandemic, Port Taranaki has followed, and continues to follow, government agencies' protocols regarding the maritime border and shore leave, and acted responsibly to protect our staff and port users, and the community."

The goodie bags were the idea of the port staff themselves, he says.

"The care packages are a small gesture that says we care. It is not a Port Taranaki Limited initiative, but a staff initiative."

One of the organisers, operations administrator Heather Goldsworthy, says the parcels are about reflecting core values, rather than meeting healthy nutrition needs. The focus, she says, is about aroha nui (care) and āhurutanga (warmth and comfort).

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"I don't think the parcel contents would pass the nutrition police."

The planning of the parcels has been a team effort, she says.

"Pilot Neill MacKean, who has been going on board these vessels and has been concerned about the welfare of the crews since the pandemic began, has driven the initiative. Operations planner Hannah Haskell shopped for the goodies, and a group of us, including the pilots, sorted the goodies into the parcels."

Each parcel has had a crew member's name on it, to give the gifts a personal touch, and have been delivered by the pilot going aboard the ship to help guide her in to port. Pilots wear full PPE gear while on board the vessel.

Heather says the gifts have been gratefully received by the crew members.

"The pilot reported that the crew were ecstatic, incredibly grateful for the kindness and their smiles were something to behold."

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