Kiwi essential worker Tupara Tupara has been recognised as New Zealand’s top ‘supermarket hero’, as part of Best Foods New Zealand’s Supermarket Heroes campaign to recognise and reward essential employees who have gone the extra mile during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tupara, who works as an entrance supervisor at New World Turangi, received an incredible 131 nominations from family, friends, colleagues and the wider community, who praised him for his thoughtful, kind and bubbly approach during the COVID-19 pandemic; with nominators describing him as having ‘held the town together with his positive attitude.’
Along with his friendly approach, Tupara was also recognised for his thoughtful gestures, such as meeting customers with an umbrella to keep them dry and paying close attention to sanitising trolleys to keep shoppers safe. Tupara’s prize is a much-deserved getaway filled with rest and relaxation - a luxury weekend for two at Taupo’s Huka Lodge, to be enjoyed at the appropriate alert level.
“I just want to say a big thank you to my community, New World, Best Foods, and all the other essential workers and community for their support. To be honest I just treated each day like another normal day. I could see the fear in our customers, so I just kept smiling and sanitising to keep everyone calm and help them feel like everything was going to be okay,” said Tupara.
Danny Pickett, owner of New World Turangi, said he’s incredibly proud of his employee.
“During lockdown, the community really bonded together, but Tupara was like the glue spreading calm and reassurance,” said Pickett.
Alongside Tupara, four additional supermarket heroes have been recognised: Eliza Ross, supervisor at Countdown Te Atatu South; Gabrielle Reid, checkout at PAK’nSAVE Hastings; George Aspinall, security guard at New World St Martins; and Waina Kumeroa, checkout operator at New World Kawerau, who will all receive an entire year’s supply of Unilever products – including plenty of Best Foods mayonnaise.
Like Tupara, the four were praised for their positivity, reassuring approach, and acts of kindness – such as Gabrielle Reid going above and beyond to pay for a customer’s groceries with her own money when they forgot their wallet, and George Aspinall taking extra care to assist elderly shoppers.
Launched on Monday 20 April, Supermarket Heroes encouraged Kiwis to nominate those working within the industry who have gone above and beyond during COVID-19. The campaign resulted in an overwhelming 1,401 total nominations, reinforcing the gratitude Kiwis feel toward our essential workers during this tricky time.
Tupara was not the only worker nominated in Turangi, with the area being popular with nominators – alongside other standout areas Kawerau, Te Atatu, Levin, and Nelson and Ashburton in the South Island. The supermarkets with the highest number of nominated workers were PAK’nSAVE and New World Timaru, PAK’nSAVE and New World Masterton, Countdown Nelson, and Fresh Choice Nelson.
With a $376 million (17%) increase in spend within the New Zealand food and grocery sector during March, over 60,000 supermarket employees across the nation faced longer hours and disgruntled customers and risked their own health and safety for the wider community.
New Zealand’s favourite mayo brand wanted to pay tribute to the efforts of these admirable supermarket workers, who until now had been largely unrecognised despite the difficult circumstances they have faced.
“We wanted to show the essential workers who have been working tremendously hard and putting their health at risk every day to help the nation some much-deserved recognition,” said Matt Rigby, Head of Unilever New Zealand.
“We’re so impressed with the incredible response we’ve had to this campaign. The amount of heartfelt, genuine nominations we saw shows that each and every essential worker can feel proud of their efforts during the pandemic. We hope that this gesture brings some happiness to our five deserving heroes.”
Katherine Rich, Chief Executive of the Food & Grocery Council, said it is great to see those in the grocery sector get the recognition they so deserve.
“The past weeks have been an extremely difficult time. Supermarket employees have been working around the clock, experiencing abuse and high levels of stress while ensuring the smooth operation of one of our most crucial services - supermarkets.”
“It’s great to see one of New Zealand’s largest FMCG brands highlight these workers efforts and bring light into their lives while times are tough.”
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