Four-year-old July Thomas is a special little girl according to her aunt, Melena Thomas, and a lot of Kaitaia folk now have good reason to agree, even if they've never met her.

July, with support from her mum Serenity, took it upon herself to organise and build a paataka kai (food cupboard), which on Thursday last week was set up outside Melena's house in Parkdale Crescent, Kaitaia. 'Take what you need' is painted on the side, with a plastic flap to keep the contents dry, and it was an instant success.

"It went crazy," Melena said.

"People we don't even know were coming from everywhere to make donations."


She was about to re-stock it with bread and milk on Friday, although it was far from empty.

Fruit, carrots, noodles, packets of baking powder and a huge tin of baked beans were there for the taking.

Kaitaia's first paataka kai was set up outside Mana House, 60 North Rd, just a week or two earlier, and it too was well-stocked on Friday morning.

Trudy Brown, from Open the Curtains, encouraged people who had food to spare to offer what they could for those who were struggling to get by, and hoped more cupboards would be set up around the town.