TODAY |

Supplies set sail for Chatham Islands, with community now running low on food

A ship stocked with essential supplies will leave Napier Port tonight for one of the only places in New Zealand that is still free of Covid-19.

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A ship from Napier is packed with essential items and set sail for the islands. Source: 1 NEWS

The Chatham Islands are in lockdown like the rest of us, however our panic buying on the mainland has put pressure on the island community.

Five containers worth of food is on its way.

The Islands are usually serviced by retailers on the mainland, but panic buyers here have put pressure on their supply chain.

New World Onekawa's been working through the night to scramble together goods.

“All the basic essentials, so all the staples that New Zealand wants right now is what the Chatham’s need.”

Chathams Mayor Monique Croon says the challenge is people on the Island usually buy in bulk.

“Supermarkets have been challenged with keeping up supply and there has been a huge effort from suppliers to be able to meet our orders.”

Around 600 people live on the islands who are serviced by two small grocery shops.

Waitangi Store owner Simone Croon has been flat out with orders.

“Our boats are very irregular and we were told to order it like it was the last one for 4-6 weeks and I think that’s what we all did and now we are just playing catch up with what we've run out of.”

Their economy's taken a hit.

Air Chathams has been grounded except for freight, stopping any tourism.

The fishing industry has had to put their anchors down.

“We have been focused in the last couple of weeks just to keep our essential transport service operating to keep coming to the island for our much needed supplies as well as diesel and petrol and LPG which is our lifeline utilities,” Monique Croon told 1 NEWS.

To keep the island COVID-19 free, no crew from the local shipping company will be leaving the vessel as supplies are loaded on from the Napier Port.

With only three beds at the islands hospital Nursing Manager Sally Lanauze says they’ve built three units to isolate any cases.

“We're a small community of just over 600 people, there is a lot of old families that have been here for many years, everybody knows everybody and it would be devastating if it got here.”

A situation the rugged islands and its resilient community are doing all they can to prevent.