Rugby heroes deliver lunch to school
A group of barefoot children are waiting for their heroes and talking big.
Denzel Koro says not only is he the fastest kid in his Porirua school, he’s the best rugby player too.
‘‘See these skinny legs? They can smoke anyone out on the field, they’ll even gas the Hurricanes.’’
Minutes later, as members of the Wellington Hurricanes team emerge from a car, an awed Denzel falls silent. But only briefly.
Rugby players Brad Shields and Reggie Goodes are bombarded by questions as the 10-year-old escorts them into Glenview School.
‘‘What’s happening with Nehe Milner Skudder?’’ he asked, referring to their injured team mate.
‘‘Are you going to smash the Stormers this weekend?’’
For Denzel, the visit to his decile-one school is all about rugby but for principal Lynda Knight-de Blois it’s about what the players are delivering. Free lunch.
Every day, about 15 of Glenview’s 65 pupils come to school without food, she said.
‘‘We teach them there’s no shame in asking for help but there’s probably some that don’t say anything.’’
Things are hard out there, she said. Parents may not have transport to get to the supermarket and it’s virtually impossible to buy healthy food in Cannons Creek.
‘‘The lunch packs they can buy at the dairy are just sugar and carbs. There’s no supermarket here.’’
Knight-de Blois said her school already benefited from free food programmes but there was always a need for more.
‘‘We have children who would otherwise go hungry.’’
The Hurricanes visit heralded the launch of another programme to try and ease the burden of some Porirua schools.
The online, subscriptionbased, Eat My Lunch scheme delivered midday meals and cor- porate catering to workplaces and for every lunch sold donates a free lunch to a child who needs it.
Based in Auckland since 2015, the business launched in Wellington last year, helped by the Hurricanes team.
Founder Lisa King said a fifth Porirua school was already on a waiting list.
‘‘It shows there’s clearly a need in the area.’’
Meanwhile, Denzel is still telling his visitors about his own rugby prowess and demonstrating his moves.
‘‘I don’t reckon any of you could catch me on the field.’’
Asked what his favourite lunch is he doesn’t hesitate.
‘‘A salad, an apple and a pie.’’
Hurricanes Rugby players Brad Shields, left, and Reggie Goodes with pupils, from left, Denzel Koro, Chantelle Faraimo and Isiah Leti.