Huntly may not be a bustling metropolis, but there's one thing it does have - plenty of heart. And on the main drag, a tattoo artist is adding more community love.
Barry Black found himself down on his luck as a young man. But now he's giving back to those who helped him back on his feet – through community foodbanks.
"I went through a bit of a rough time and wasn't really aware of community centres and food banks until after the fact when things went wrong," he said.
"After I found out about them, I was gutted that I didn't know about the services of community centres or foodbanks and I thought there's got to be more awareness to help people that are struggling."
From there Barry had an idea.
"I thought why not do tattoos for food? I offer discounted tattoos when people bring in a food donation and every tattoo, you've got to bring a food donation."
Black recently relocated from Pāpāmoa to Huntly. With more than 13,000 followers on his "Tat24food" Facebook page, the scheme has been a big hit wherever he goes.
"One time in the Waikato one person brought in five boxes of canned food which was absolutely amazing, and a lot of the time people do bring in more than I ask them for.
People really love the combo of tattoos and food bank donations."
For those donating to get a tattoo, it's a win-win.
"You're not just getting the tattoo for yourself," said Raglan resident, Gerard O'Donoghue. "At the same time, you're supporting the community and you walk away feeling good."
Donated food is then dropped across the road to the local food bank.
"We helped Barry, he was in a hard place," said Lyn Tupaea from the Huntly Community Advice Centre. When you think it falls on deaf ears, the need of people … people like Barry actually hear what's going on because they've been there."
With the holiday season fast approaching, this food bank, like many across the country, is calling for more support as demand increases.
"Having a little bit more help. Having more donations of food. We actually help with linen and anything else people need as well. It went quiet in the last month but it's starting to come up again."
And there's one Christmas wish in particular this food bank wants granted.
"What would help us, because we pretty much put our own petrol in, it would be nice to have a van, that we would really look after, for the food and the deliveries," Lyn said. "We're using our cars, which we'll do anyway because of the need, but we do wish someone would help us with a vehicle. That would be great, one pressure off the staff of five that we have."
In the meantime, they'd also be grateful for fuel vouchers.
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