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Thousands of flowers sent out to bring joy before the lockdown

Thousands of Aucklanders received surprise bouquets of fresh flowers before the country went into lockdown from a wholesaler who saw a last chance opportunity to bring joy to people before isolation.

bouquet of flowers

File image.
Photo: Unsplash / Annie Spratt

Fresh Cut Flower Wholesalers’ business mantra is “Bringing beauty and happiness to New Zealanders” but as the business prepared to shutdown, its owners couldn’t bear to see all of its stock go to waste.

So in a surprise gesture – it organised flowers to be sent to teachers, nurses and other essential workers as well as local families and hospices around Auckland.

When New Zealand moved into Alert Level 3 on Monday afternoon Jason Kitely, owner of Auckland’s Fresh Cut Flowers Wholesaler, had to think fast about what to do with perishable flowers.

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“We offered them very cheaply to the public and then we were looking for good places to put the flowers that basically allowed someone to get some happiness for them,” Kitely said.

Hundreds of bouquets were sent to healthline callcentre workers who’ve been working tirelessly over the past few weeks.

A staff member sent more bunches to teachers at local schools who were preparing for lockdowns and frontline workers and patients in hospitals also received surprise bouquets.

They were fresh roses, carnations, chrysanthemums, snapdragons, tulips, lilies and more in a range of colours spread out around Auckland before the city went dark and people closed their doors for lockdown.

Jason and Conny Kitely - owners of Fresh Cut Flowers Wholesaler

Conny and Jason Kitely, owners of Fresh Cut Flowers Wholesaler.
Photo: Supplied

“It would be thousands of stems, maybe even 10,000 individual flowers,” Kitely said.

“We sort of exist to bring beauty, happiness and comfort to peoples’ lives and we often do that in an indirect way through our florists, wedding specialists and supermarkets etc. so it’s been far more connected this time.

“We know one of the recipients had just found out her mum had terminal cancer, just as she found a bunch of flowers on her doorstep. So it has really provided that happiness and comfort to people and hopefully lots of people get to enjoy it while they’re stuck at home for the next four weeks.”

Fresh Cut Flowers Wholesaler are clients of the IT business next door, Unify Digital.

Its owner, Daniel Oliver, says many of his clients have been hit hard over the past few weeks.

“It’s been quite surreal. It’s escalated in a matter of weeks to something that everyone’s life has to revolve around now,” Oliver said.

“The uncertainty is probably the most difficult thing for New Zealand businesses.”

Some of the flowers from Fresh Cut Flowers Wholesaler

Photo: Supplied

When Daniel found out the couple were trying to give out as many flowers as they could, he called his wife, Lisieli, for help.

“Well when Dan gave me the call we were already really busy trying to organise the kids and everyone to go into lockdown, making sure we had everything and once he sent me the picture that just really broke my heart and there was no way I could let him say no or to just throw the flowers away,” Lesieli said.

“And so that’s why we just packed our car with as many roses as we could to give away.”

Lesieli works for the family business but also runs her own life coaching business for women called “Juggle and Thrive”.

She says she knew of many women in her community and beyond who would appreciate the flowers.

So her and her husband spent the past couple of days driving around Auckland delivering surprise bouquets to others.

“Women were really blown away and just really blessed by the roses that they were given,” said Lesieli.

“I know a lot of women right now are feeling anxious and uneasy about the impact the virus will have on their families and their livelihood and so it was received really well. I received a lot of comments back on Facebook and photos from women who said ‘Thank you so much for these flowers, it’s really brightened up my day during this time’, and so they were really grateful,” she said.

“It was a bittersweet moment because when I saw the flowers I knew it was a representation of how the virus is affecting businesses in New Zealand.”

As for Fresh Cut Flowers – a 25-year-old business now shut down until further notice – its owners have spent their first day in lockdown reflecting.

“I think it is bittersweet, it is very challenging but I think all New Zealanders need to do their share and their portion,” Kitely said.

“And no matter when you think that things are pretty tough in your own circumstances, it’s very easy to look across and find someone in a worse situation.

“I think the government and many people have sort of been summing it up really – Be kind and be patient with each other and we’ll all get through this.

“And look forward to coming out on the other side.”

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