Pāmu Farms staff know they have been lucky to be able to keep their jobs throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. But they also know there are plenty of others who are struggling right now.

So the 150 staff of the company's dairy farm near Taupō took up a food collection, and last Tuesday it was handed over to Taupō Civil Defence to distribute. Farm business manager Jason Halford said the idea came from a desire to help those who had not been able to stay in work.

"As primary sector producers we have been fortunate to keep our jobs at this time. We wanted to raise awareness of the food plight that people are facing," he said.

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The men behind the food drive are Pāmu farm business managers Cliff Ballinger from the Otago Dairy Unit and Jacob Ratu from the Broadlands Dairy Unit.

"Generous men with their time and thoughts, it didn't take Cliff and Jacob too long to drum up enthusiasm among the staff," said Jason.

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He is very proud of the staff for their whole-hearted support of the food drive. So much has been donated it will fill up the back of one of the farm utes.

"We had a huge uptake. People would do their shop and top it up with food for donation. There is a huge array of food. From breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, tinned goods, and bolognese sauce to biscuits, chips, chocolate and liquorice."

Taupō Civil Defence will arrange for the distribution of the food "to people who need a bit extra". Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) welfare manager Vanessa Healy said the groceries would be given out to the various foodbanks and community groups the EOC is in partnership with.

"This is a time to think of others. It's the Kiwi spirit to give when we are lucky enough to still have our own jobs.

"It's got to be tough for people to ask for help. It's heart-wrenching - through no fault of their own a lot of people are having trouble," said Jason.

He hopes the donation will inspire others in the community to look out for others who are newly unemployed and facing financial difficulty.


"If you are happy with yourself and what you have got, then maybe you could be generous to other people," said Jason.