Te Awamutu Māori Women's Welfare League have collaborated with Pātaka Kai to bring a community pantry to the village

The Pātaka Kai Open Street Pantry Movement is a resident-led grassroots, crowd-sourced solution to immediate and local needs, rescuing food and encouraging the co-sharing between neighbours to strengthen communities.

The movement has seen over 100 open pantries open across the country, and 50 more are currently under construction.

Pātaka Kai is the Māori term for a food storage house.

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Yesterday a number of people gathered at the Pātaka Kai as Kane Rangitonga, honorary and only male member of the Te Awamutu Māori Women's Welfare League, blessed the village's new open pantry.

Te Awamutu Māori Women's Welfare League vice-chairwoman, Ada Te Huia (left) and the group's treasurer, Raylee Price, remove the korowai from the Pātaka Kai. Photo / Caitlan Johnston
Te Awamutu Māori Women's Welfare League vice-chairwoman, Ada Te Huia (left) and the group's treasurer, Raylee Price, remove the korowai from the Pātaka Kai. Photo / Caitlan Johnston

"The kaupapa, purpose, is to share food amongst our neighbourhood and community.
You take what you need and leave what you can, similar to the sharing shed in town, but at this point in time we don't want books or clothes, just food," says Te Awamutu Māori Women's Welfare League treasurer Raylee Price.

The pantry was built by members of the Te Awamutu Menz Shed who volunteered their time to the project. The pantry sits outside the Te Awamutu Maori Women's Welfare League House and Kihikihi community garden on Lyon St.

Kainga Aroha Community House has also collaborated on the project, and when they can they will be able to leave donated food at the open pantry.

Kane, who is also the general manager at Kainga Aroha, says that the Pātaka Kai provides another pathway for struggling families to obtain food.

"A lot of people won't come in and see us because they have shame for being poor, but having these food pantries in our communities gives them a place to get kai without having to talk about their situation," says Kane.

"The hope is that they will eventually be encouraged to come in and talk about why they are struggling with, we will lay the bread crumbs right to our door."

The Pātaka Kai sits out front the Te Awamutu Māori Women's Welfare League house on Lyon St in Kihikihi. Photo / Caitlan Johnston
The Pātaka Kai sits out front the Te Awamutu Māori Women's Welfare League house on Lyon St in Kihikihi. Photo / Caitlan Johnston

The Te Awamutu Māori Women's Welfare League have actually had two pantries built by the Te Awamutu Menz Shed but are waiting to see if there will be a demand for a second to be put out as well.

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"We're also possibly looking to see if there is another area in Te Awamutu that could get value and benefit from one being put in town other than the sharing shed," says Raylee.

"One of the kaupapa of the Māori Women Welfare League is to support families in need, which could be with food, clothing, beds or linen, we do whatever we can do to support families who approach us or come to us through referrals."

People are asked to only take what they need and if possible to leave what they can, no items other than food, excluding hot food and perishables, can be left at the pantry.