9 April 2020
More than 2500 families in need in the Central region will receive care packages assembled as part of the New Zealand Defence Force’s response to help support communities through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Linton-based soldiers were tasked as part of Operation Protect with helping local iwi alliance Te Tihi o Ruahine by assisting in the packing and distribution of the boxes in Palmerston North this week.
More than 30 soldiers took part in the task which will see packages distributed to places such as Whanganui, Ohakune, Tararua, Horowhenua, Feilding and Palmerston North.
The soldiers, who have been living and working together as part of the NZDF response and are in the same bubble, wore protective gear including face masks and gloves while assembling the packages.
Each care package included items such as toilet paper, cleaning products, and personal hygiene items, while some food items such as flour and canned goods were also included.
Group Captain Shaun Sexton, commander of OP Protect Task Group Central, said the soldiers were keen to help out communities who needed a hand.
“The NZDF is proud to support Te Tihi o Ruahine Whānau Ora Alliance,” he said.
“Our people responded to a request through Civil Defence Emergency Management to provide manpower and transport assistance to local iwi in the packing and distribution of care packages for vulnerable individuals and whanau within local communities.”
Palmerston North City Council made room for the distribution centre to be set up at Arena Manawatu in Palmerston North.
Organisers said help given from the NZDF had blown them away.
“They’re just machines,” said Materoa Mar, director of Te Tihi o Ruahine.
“It’s been wonderful. The NZDF have just risen to be a great assistance,” she said.
“It is phenomenal the pace at which they have been able to work.”
The care packages would be delivered to various locations by volunteers this week.