Stone Soup organisers were happy to hand over catering to a Brethren team on Saturday - and the team was happy to provide.

It was the first Stone Soup of the year, at Lorenzdale Park in Whanganui's Gonville. About 300 people were there for the food and fellowship.

There's usually a hangi lunch for everyone. On Saturday, the team from the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church offered to cater, and it did a barbecue instead, member Simon Filleul said.

The Whanganui church has 250 members and the team were all volunteers. They had met organisers of the Stone Soup gatherings, and liked what they found. "The organisers there are doing a great job. What we did was relatively small, but it's just something to help an already pretty good organisation."


The 20 volunteers handed out burgers, sausages, cake and bottles of water. "We loved it. For us it was good experience being able to do something for other people. It was one way our community could help another community," Mr Filleul said.

One of the usual organisers, Judy Kumeroa, said the Brethren team was magnificent. She and the others enjoyed participating fully in the day instead of working behind the scenes as they usually do. The barbecue lunch made them think about providing other kinds of food than the usual hangi. But she wouldn't want to completely stop using an earth hangi either. She said it kept the art of hangi cooking alive, and gave a useful role to men and to community workers.

The Stone Soup gathering had a range of activities on offer: An open mike, a drop and swap table, a fashion parade of donated items and a chance to make friendship bracelets. Age Concern and the Fire Service provided input through talking about their services. In the "community korero", session, people told stories of good interaction between neighbours and also dangerous driving on some streets - which has been reported to Whanganui police.