Whangārei tamariki are sharing their home-grown produce with whānau with their new pātaka kai, promoting healthy diets and reducing food waste .

Kererū Kindy on Bank St has installed a pātaka kai community pantry to give out fresh fruit and vegetables to spare, and to stop food waste in local households.

The idea for the pātaka came about after the kids learned about healthy foods and started to grow their own vegetable garden.

Katana Ratima, 3, Phoenix Tapp, 4, and Dre Tangariki-Pou, 3, from Kererū Kindy and their new pātaka kai. Photos / Michael Cunningham
Katana Ratima, 3, Phoenix Tapp, 4, and Dre Tangariki-Pou, 3, from Kererū Kindy and their new pātaka kai. Photos / Michael Cunningham

"At first, the vegetable garden was aimed at the children so they can learn about different vegetables and how to grow them," Kererū Kindy manager Raewyn Malcolm-Douglas said.

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"We then decided that we wanted to share the food with the community and they have really taken the pantry on board."

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At first, the children's families brought in food, but now anyone who walks past drops off what they can spare.

The general rule is that people who have more food from their garden than they can eat can drop it at the pātaka kai and it's free for anyone to collect.

One of the children's "poppa" built the pantry shelf outside the kindergarten and a teacher painted it.

The kids were stoked to be part of the educational project around food.

Katana Ratima, 3, says she loved veggies and her favourites were carrots.

The children especially enjoy feeding goat Morton and chook Chickadee – both teachers' pets that visit the kindy regularly – with food scraps they collect.

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Schaffer Newton, 3, Dre Tangariki-Pou, 3, Phoenix Tapp, 4, Chaos Ashby, 3, Lianne Tamaki 4, Katana Ratima, 3, and kaiako Carmelia Tangariki.
Schaffer Newton, 3, Dre Tangariki-Pou, 3, Phoenix Tapp, 4, Chaos Ashby, 3, Lianne Tamaki 4, Katana Ratima, 3, and kaiako Carmelia Tangariki.

Paula Kelly sends her child to the Regent kindergarten and is glad to see many people contributing to the pātaka kai.

"It's a place for people to give and receive. Having the kindy doing it in the neighbourhood shows that anyone can do it and it's an accomplishment for the kids," Kelly said.

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Kererū Kindy owners Bryce and Jennifer Dahl said the initiative had given the kaiako the opportunity to teach about healthy eating and the tamariki to get involved with their community.

"A local dentist walked in the other day and said he had seen high school kids walking past the pantry and taking some of the fruit instead of buying junk food for lunch. He was thrilled," Bryce Dahl said.

Whakaora Kai Taitokerau Food Rescue Northland visits the Kererū Kindy pātaka kai and other community pantries in the region on a regular basis.

They deliver fit-to-eat, surplus food from food retailers and growers that would otherwise go to waste.

There are several food pantries in Whangārei including at the Rust Ave Medical Centre, the Citizens Advice Bureau on Bank St, next to Open Arms on Robert St, at Habitat for Humanity, and several in Tikipunga, Raumanga and Ōtangarei.

Onerahi has three - one on Waimahanga Rd, one on Kokich Cres and one on Raurimu Ave.