New World Waka Kai back in the water after Cyclone Gabrielle
By Holly Shan
Last Thursday, 16 February, New World Whitianga chose to do an unusual delivery via its Waka Kai.
New World Waka Kai, delivering hassle-free groceries to Coromandel beaches via a Sealegs amphibious boat, was the brainchild of Whitianga owner-operator, Kerry Stanley, to ensure easier and more relaxed summer shopping for thousands of customers. It was a world first venture at the time, delivering to six beaches: Cooks Beach, Hahei, Pauanui, Opito Bay, Matarangi, Whangapoua. The Waka Kai typically runs seven days a week from the start of December to the end of Waitangi weekend (6 February)and then again, through the Easter school holidays.
However, with the roads damaged and many impassable due to Cyclone Gabrielle, Waka Kai went back in the water to help deliver groceries to the isolated communities on the Coromandel Peninsula, this time to eight beach communities. “We will do free deliveries to Cooks Beach, Hahei, Matarangi, Opito Bay, Whangapoua, Tairua, Pauanui and Kennedy Bay. We will go to the northern locations first, then come back to Whitianga to reload and turn to more southern places.”Tony Marsters, the Skipper, told The Informer that morning.
“The goods in those red boxes include welfare checks, water, long-life milk, toilet paper etc., but delivering these items is not the only mission of this trip.” They are looking for ways to get orders to and from people in the upcoming days, particularly if they have no phone or internet access. “Despite the hard work of the many contractors in the area, some communities are still without power and internet. Orders have been coming in through a few different ways. We get plenty of orders through the normal online processes, but we have also taken handwritten orders and made them work,” Kerry Stanley said as he loaded the boat with his colleagues. “We have also received orders online from concerned families around the country, who are unable to contact their family members in these locations. They have placed these orders in the hope that we will be able to find their family members and deliver their groceries. That is our challenge, and we will do our best to make it happen.”
Since Waka Kai was first launched in December 2019, it has delivered online orders for the Coromandel beaches over the Kiwi summer break. “Traffic in Whitianga is absolutely bananas over summer,” says Kerry and Sara Stanley. “Normally, we have only one road in and one out. Our supermarket aisles are packed with people trying to shop, and the roads are heaving with hot, frustrated drivers and carsick kids.” So, the pair invested in Waka Kai as a way for their customers to pick up their supplies without fighting through hordes of holidaymakers.
At a time when no one could drive on the roads with flooding, trees down, many slips, and power cut -off, this became an essential service in a time of need for a number of Coromandel Peninsula communities.
For more information on New World Waka Kai including delivery schedules, please visit newworld.co.nz/whitianga
Caption: Skipper – Tony Marsters, Crewman – Niels Dijkstra, New World Owner/Operator – Kerry Stanley