Georgie Pie supporter blazing a trail

TRAIL BLAZING: Grant Duffield is trying to get McDonald's to re-open Georgie Pie and is collecting signatures for a petition to present at McD's head office in Auckland.
CHRIS HILLOCK/ Fairfax NZ
TRAIL BLAZING: Grant Duffield is trying to get McDonald's to re-open Georgie Pie and is collecting signatures for a petition to present at McD's head office in Auckland.

One man is on a campaigning "blitz" of the upper North Island in an attempt to bring back Georgie Pie.

Grant Duffield kickstarted his campaign in Auckland a fortnight ago, collecting signatures in an attempt to convince McDonald's to revive the pie company that closed 14 years ago.

"I was on a trip up to Auckland and needed something else to do while I was there. I thought, 'I can't be bored up there, what else can I do?...why don't I start making some signs and get it known on the street'," the Whakatane resident said. 

Since then, the Pak'N Save employee has travelled to Hamilton, Cambridge, Rotorua and Taupo with a large sign and a petition that currently has more than 2,600 signatures.

Once 5,000 people have signed it, Duffield will present it to McDonalds, who bought the defunct pie chain in 1996.

Duffield believes McDonald's recent appointment of a new chief executive, Don Thompson, is a good opportunity to serve the idea back up. 

New Zealand's first supermarket owner Tom Ah Chee opened the first Georgie Pie in Kelston, West Auckland, in 1977.  The chain rapidly grew to 30 outlets, and 1300 people lost their jobs when it closed. The Mission Bay outlet was the last to shut, in 1998. 

In April this year, the then-newly appointed boss of McDonald's New Zealand, Patrick Wilson, said the company had looked into re-opening the chain.

"We are going to continue to work on it, we are by no means saying we are giving up on Georgie Pie at all, but it's going to take a lot smarter thinking because if we bring back the original formula, people are still going to remember what they think a Georgie Pie will taste like."

Duffield said no matter what happens he will keep campaigning for the cause on behalf New Zealanders.

"It's all about creating awareness, and I'm certainly doing that.  People probably think that I'm mad for what I'm doing, and that probably is true, but I don't let that distract me...I think it's a good cause, a lot of people in New Zealand like their pies.

"I don't really know the ins and outs of petitioning, I'm new to this.  But I believe in the one-man-bandit kind of thing, and so I thought I'd get out here and create the awareness.  Even if I don't get the signatures, I'm out here creating attention."

The cost of campaigning is coming out of Duffield's own pocket, but he reckons it will be worth it in the end.

"I'm not getting paid for what I'm doing, but I guess that payment will come afterwards, if Georgie Pie does come back."

Georgie Pie had a one-day-only revival in Christchurch in 2008, when two student documentary makers set up a temporary restaurant.

More than 350 of the chain's trademark pies were baked using the original "top-secret" recipe secured from Georgie Pie's food technologist.  Hungry fans queued from 1am and the store sold out in less than an hour.

Georgie Pie clearly strikes a chord with Kiwis. A Facebook page, Bring Back Georgie Pie, has over 50,500 Likes on Facebook. 

Auckland Now