Timaru octogenarian receives groceries after multiple calls to agencies

Timaru's Olive Crossan, 82, has restocked her pantry after an uphill battle to get her groceries delivered.


Timaru’s Olive Crossan, 82, has restocked her pantry after an uphill battle to get her groceries delivered.

A much-needed grocery delivery has delighted 82-year-old Olive Crossan but she is frustrated at how many phone calls it took to get organised.

The Timaru woman was down to her last cup of tea by the time Civil Defence delivered vegetables, cheese, margarine, bananas, and tea bags to her home on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s nice to have a fresh sandwich,” Crossan told Stuff on Sunday.

“I gave a list of what I wanted over the phone and they went to the shop and got it for me.”

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Crossan, who was given a number to ring when she next needs groceries, paid with cash when the delivery arrived. She has about $50 cash budgeted for groceries during the lockdown and has no plans to give her Eftpos card pin number out if she runs out.

“That’s the tricky bit, especially if this lockdown goes for over a month.”


Timaru octogenarian Olive Crossan believes the Covid-19 lockdown rules don’t take into account people who live like her.

The octogenarian has lived alone in a unit for the past 10 years and has no family, friends, or home help who can pick up groceries for her.

“There must be other people out there who don’t have family and friends, so how they’re getting on I really don’t know.”

She has a car, landline phone and internet.

“I have a car but I’m not allowed to go out, I do have internet but I’m no good at it, it’s beyond me.”

She picked up the phone earlier this week and started making calls to organise some groceries.

She called Civil Defence first and was told to ring Timaru Taxis, who in turn told her to ring Countdown, at which point she discovered the supermarket did not take phone orders.

“Everybody seemed to put me on to somebody else.”

Crossan was running short on bread, milk, and vegetables at that stage.

“The last time I went to the supermarket was just before the lockdown and the shelves were just about bare then.

“I have been living on whatever is in the cupboard.”

Crossan has struggled to get groceries during lockdown.


Crossan has struggled to get groceries during lockdown.

Crossan said an elderly friend had made some calls on her behalf, and on Saturday morning she was contacted by Civil Defence saying they would pick up and deliver her groceries.

Civil Defence public information manager Stephen Doran wanted to reassure people who contacted the call centre they would get the help they needed.

The call centre first heard from Crossan on Friday, Doran said.

“We advised her of her options. A friend later called to say none of the options are working for her, so we delivered a bag of shopping to her,” Doran said.

“If people are having trouble with the options, they can call as many times as they need.”

Doran hoped Crossan’s story did not dissuade people from ringing the call centre at 0800 24 24 11, which operated from 7am to 7pm seven days a week.

“We’re trying our best to help people and are working on improving all the time,” he said.

“The amount of help required is quite individual to each person so we’re working through that.”

Timaru Taxis director’s chairwoman Barbara McHaffie said Crossan had been advised to make an order with Countdown and let the supermarket know the taxi service would be doing the delivery.

“We’re offering $10 deliveries within town for prescriptions and groceries.

“There may be a driver or two that can do some grocery shopping for them, because I have heard there’s a lot of people out there struggling.”

If a person needing to use the service was in the same situation as Crossan, McHaffie advised they “put it out there” they needed a driver to do their groceries and it could be arranged.

The taxi service has cut its times from 24 hours to 5.30am to 7.30pm, with its call centre shifting from Invercargill to Timaru for the lockdown.

“We would just like to apologise to those essential workers who work overnight as we are unable to cater to them during this time.”

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