Kia Kaha Kaikoura

Kia Kaha Kaikoura

In the wake of the devastating 7.8 quake, one family launched into action, and have raised over $6000 for Kaikoura – inspired and driven by the principle, ‘it’s not hard to be kind aye’. St Albans Playcentre mum, Leiani Reardon-Hepi talks about the resonance of her father’s one-liner, as numerous others have embraced, indeed worn, the message.

Four years ago, with their Christchurch property red-zoned, Jeff and Carol Reardon moved back to Kaikoura – a place close to their hearts. Jolted awake at 12.02am on November 14, they found themselves on shaky, yet familiar turf, and immediately thought about what they could do to help others.

It was clear that Carol’s 60th birthday party, which had been planned for the following weekend, would not be going ahead. So Jeff and Carol decided to thaw out the bounty of crayfish they had stored, and serve these to everyone gathered in the park.

As Leiani explains, ‘they’d been through it all before, and they wanted the tourists to have a full belly and a good memory of Kaikoura’ – despite the circumstances.

When asked by 1 News what prompted such generosity, Jeff said, simply, ‘it’s not hard to be kind aye’.

‘I’d had a 15-second conversation with Mum that night, before the phones had cut out’, recalls Leiani. ‘Then we saw this one-minute clip of Mum and Dad on the internet – I bawled my eyes out.’

Whilst ‘it was heart-wrenching not being able to talk with them’, her Dad’s words shook Leiani and brother Kori into action. With the same generous spirit and resourcefulness of their mum and dad, the pair decided to try and spread the word.

Kori phoned Gooses – The Apparel Experts, about getting the message printed on t-shirts. Kaikoura Surf had been red stickered and Gooses had all their summer stock, explains Leiani. ‘Kaikoura Surf generously donated their stock, and Gooses arranged to have 400 t-shirts printed – with “it’s not hard to be kind aye” on the front, and “Kia Kaha Kaikoura” on the back’, says Leiani – ‘and all for free!’

Others were eager to act on the message. With Team Event donating all proceeds from SIX60 Live in the Park to ‘Kiwis who are suffering up the coast’, they offered Leiani and Kori a free spot to sell the t-shirts. ‘It’s all about banding together to do some good for people who are in a really really tough space’, says the event organisers.

On November 19, the themes of kindness and generosity reverberated throughout Hagley Park – and the t-shirts sold like hot cakes.

So far, the t-shirts have raised $6000 for Kaikoura – and they are still selling. ‘This Saturday, we are selling them at the Wine and Food Festival in Christchurch’, says Leiani. And of course people can purchase them online, via the ‘it’s not hard to be kind’ Facebook page.

As for the Reardon family, Carol didn’t get to have her 60th birthday party. But the family still managed to surprise her. ‘We had commissioned Tony [Cribb] to do a Tin Man picture for her – and The Press filmed her getting her present, after it was flown up’.

‘The aim is to get them here for Christmas’, says Leiani – whose sons, Kahurangi (5) and Kaitatea (3) miss their Nanny and Pop.

For Leiani, ‘it’s all been a blur’. While she usually gets huge support through Playcentre, she hasn’t been able to go recently – because, on top of everything else, ‘my kids have had chicken pox’.

Like his mum, and his grandparents, young Kahurangi, who is familiar with the road to Kaikoura, had a bold plan. ‘He saw pictures on the tv, and started wiping the screen. ‘We need to clear away all that dirt”, he told me’.

The destructive quakes have once again reminded everyone of the importance of whanau – and of reaching out to those in need. And the response of Carol and Jeff and their children, and their mokopuna, has struck a chord that resonates with us all.

Leiani and Kori would like to thank Gooses,, Kaikoura Surf and Team Event for making this happen! And to everyone who has got behind them and bought a t-shirt.

Check out the ‘It’s not hard to be kind aye’ Facebook Page:

Carol and Jeff Reardon on 1 News

Kori Reardon on The Breeze


By Kate Barber





Kia Kaha Kaikoura

Posted: Tuesday 29 November 2016