Two years ago, Teisha Paratene moved into one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Tauranga.

"I pretty much wanted to pack back up and move out. You would see women fighting women, teenagers, adults, gangs. They all fought on our front lawn," she said.

"Probably disgusted would be the better word, and then the fear kicked in, that this is not really where I want my kids to be playing."

Instead of turning her back on the place, Paratene and her family decided to make a difference.


"We initially started by dragging our barbeque onto the front kerb, started providing a meal and got the neighbours out to join us."

Staff at Tauranga City Council saw the good work Paratene was doing, and offered to help her apply for a financial grant.

Paratene used the grant to start up the Haeata Charitable Trust.

"We could not have done it without the council," she said.

Every Friday, she and a team of helpers receive food from Good Neighbour, a food rescue charity. It's then handed out around the community.

"I wanted people to know that there was no reason to starve, there is a lot of food around. We should be able to help each other.

"But also, I saw the violence outside and I thought, you know what, this is not your space to behave like that. This is our street. So we claimed it."

Paratene says the change in her community has been astounding.


"We used to have 20 families living in cars at the end of the street. They used to come up and get food from here every day. You would see them, just on nightfall, starting up their cookers and feeding their children."

"We've had many people take food parcels, get work, get back up on their feet again and then they have returned to us with food to give back to another family."

Despite all this, Paratene refuses to call herself a hero. She says she just wants to spread some love.

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