Hastings township Flaxmere to lose its only supermarket

Flaxmere's New World supermarket is closing next month, leaving the township of 11,000 people with no grocery store.  

The store in the outer Hasting's suburb is set to close on February 25 and consultation with its 60 employees has already begun.   

In 2021, Foodstuffs pledged to build a brand-new New World in Flaxmere opening in mid-2024 but that is no longer happening.  

In 2022, Foodstuffs gained resource consent to build the new supermarket on a vacant piece of land behind the existing New World.

The new supermarket was going to cost $21 million and in April 2023, Foodstuffs canned it, citing a changing economic environment.   

Work on a large New World in nearby Havelock North is underway.   

Once the Flaxmere New World is closed, the closest mainstream supermarket for Flaxmere will be Pak'nSave Hastings, a 10-minute drive from the New World site.   

Flaxmere's Four Square will remain open.   

A change.org petition to keep the Flaxmere New World open was started on Thursday and already has over 800 signatures. 

Tamati Birch, who started the petition, wrote, "Our local New World store has been more than just a place to buy groceries; it has been an integral part of our daily lives".

Birch highlighted how much of an issue the increased travel times would be for big parts of the Flaxmere community.

"According to Statistics New Zealand, approximately 12 percent of people in Hastings district are aged 65 years and over while about 25 percent are under 15 years old (Census 2018). This decision would disproportionately affect these vulnerable groups who may not have the means or ability to travel further distances for their daily needs."

While Birch recognised the concerns about the building's conditions, he said the community "believe there must be other viable solutions rather than closure". 

Flaxmere is one of the most socio-economically deprived areas in New Zealand.