Kaitaia's third paataka kai was officially declared open last week.

The first, in North Rd, was led by Open the Curtains and Kaitaia Time Bank, the second, in Parkdale Crescent, by four-year-old July Thomas, while this one, in Bonnetts Rd, is the work of police/iwi family harm reduction initiative Whiria Te Muka and Te Runanga o Te Rarawa.

Open the Curtains manager Trudy brown said the community kai movement that was sweeping Aotearoa was aimed at strengthening local food security from the grassroots up. The Paataka Kai Open Street Pantries Movement originated in South Auckland but was now helping to nourish approximately 2400 whanau at more than 60 locations, with another 120 pantries currently in construction.

She hoped the movement would continue to thrive in Kaitaia, in same vein as community gardens.


"The concept is simple - take what you need, leave what you can," Ms Brown said.

"We wanted to make food more accessible and available to whanau in need (via the North Road pantry). We did it because whanau told us that they were too whakama [embarrassed] to go to WINZ and the foodbank. They felt judged," she said.

"At the paataka they can access food and they don't need to fill in forms, meet criteria or provide proof of income. They can just take what they need."

The generosity of the community in continuing to fill the pantry had been overwhelming. Bronwyn Hunt, Te Runanga o Te Rarawa principal adviser, strategy and policy, said community paataka kai revived traditional practices around gathering and sharing food resources.

"One of our ancestors was Waimirirangi, who was known to feed the people, so for us this is a way of celebrating as a culture, as an iwi, as a people. We don't want to see people in need, so it's about that whole sense of manaakitanga."

The Bonnetts Rd paataka had several points of difference. The Kaitaia West community was encouraged to treat it as a communications hub, through the exchange of books and a community noticeboard.

"We've got books in there, acknowledgement that reading and the strength of words can be food for the soul as well," Ms Hunt said. "We also see this as a means of promoting mahi or iwi services."

Whiria Te Muka co-director Callie Corrigan said community tools such as paataka kai encouraged the initiative's police partners to think and work differently to strengthen community wellness.


"Kai has a role of nourishing whanau tinana and wairua, while reducing stress and promoting the values of koha and manaaki. This is one small way where we can support in the background as we all start to think differently to solutions to mana tangata," she said.

The Bonnetts Rd paataka was a collective effort by Whiria Te Muka kaipupuri Tash Kopae, with Detective Dave Gemmell and Constable Justin Fleet constructing the cupboard and Te Runanga o Te Rarawa providing the first kai. Ms Kopae had picked up on the movement via social media and recruited her community networks, including her police partners, to make it happen.

"In terms of the police, it's definitely out of the norm and a different way of supporting the community. It shows that we are human, we have heart and we're Maori," Detective Gemmell said.

The team was now busy working community connections to keep it well stocked, while conversations were beginning with local businesses about supporting the paataka as sustainable resources.

Anyone who would like a pantry in their street should go to www.patakai.co.nz or www.facebook.com/groups/openstreetpantrys to sign up.