GOLOCAL

Local childcare centres have been working hard to make a difference in the community, and help ensure people don't go hungry, by setting up pātaka kai.

Pātaka kai means storehouse pantry in te reo Māori. These pātaka kai allow locals to either donate food/goods or, if they are in need, to receive food/goods.

Agape Christian Preschool administrator Madeleine Quintal says as a Christian preschool it had been looking for community outreach projects.

She says it is a non-profit centre and its vision in the community is "to help those in need and show Christ's love".

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"Part of the vision with the project is to teach the preschool children about generosity and empathy, and we hope to have the children grow fresh produce to put into the pātaka."

Madeleine says she bought a second-hand pantry/cupboard and then weather-proofed it before handing it over to graffiti artist and preschool father Jacob Chrisohoou who painted it.

It's been put on preschool property near the footpath, and Madeleine first stocked it up with items such as milk, tomatoes, potatoes, bread and apples.

She says after she put up a Facebook post about the pātaka kai, the next day donations of items such as baby formula, food and hot chocolate came in.

"It made my day. I find I keep checking it and hoping it's helping someone. The response it got was cool."

She says the response to the post also showed there are other pātaka kai around the community, which is great to see.

She says there are a few schools in their area.

"I think there's a lot of kids that go to school hungry, so if walking past they can grab something immediately and subtly."

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She says the pātaka kai is a good option for people who want to help the community but don't know how they can donate.

The centre's pātaka kai also has a plaque in remembrance of Trish Butterworth, who was a beloved teacher at the centre before she was tragically killed by a falling tree on January 6, 2018.

Trish died when an ancient oak tree with a rotting trunk on the corner of Arawa and Amohia Sts fell on her car during a storm.

"Trish was so passionate about people. Her heart was so kind and I think everyone she met saw that in her," Madeleine says.

"She had a real love for people. I think it's a nice way for the staff here to remember her and have that visual remembrance.

"I think she would have been passionate about this project as well."

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Madeleine says the pātaka kai does come down to honesty in the community, with people welcome to take items, but asked to only take what they need and try to ensure there is enough for everyone.

Beststart Lynmore has also begun a pātaka kai for their families.

Centre manager Sarah Johnstone says this idea started with a parent from the centre donating a box full of grocery items each week.

"They wanted us to give to our families who we thought needed support, as many families have been affected through the loss of income through the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We decided to have this available for all our whānau/families. The idea is take what you need and give what you can."

The centre's children are learning about manaakitanga, how to give unconditionally to others and extend aroha to others.

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Asher Ager-Taiwha and centre manager Sarah Johnstone with Beststart Lynmore's pātaka kai. Photo / Supplied
Asher Ager-Taiwha and centre manager Sarah Johnstone with Beststart Lynmore's pātaka kai. Photo / Supplied

"Manaakitanga is one concept of Te Ao Māori we implement daily with our children.

"Enhancing whānau, communities, hauora and wairua is an integral part of our centre philosophy."

Sarah says kind-hearted members of the Beststart Lynmore whānau have thrown their support behind this new initiative.

"We will have the food available for our families each week on a Thursday. We will also introduce seedlings, so family members can plant vegetables and flowers in their gardens.

"Teaching children and families about sustainability, being kaitiaki [guardians] to our environment and generosity for our future generations."