UCOL Whanganui has been celebrating Puanga all week with nourishing winter food and the Wednesday celebrations coincided with the launch of a new student pantry.
Whanganui and Taranaki iwi celebrate the appearance of the Puanga star that appears in the winter sky each year and signals the beginning of the Māori New Year.
Student Life co-ordinator Elise Goodge said Puanga is a time of togetherness and sharing, so it was an appropriate time for UCOL to launch its new pantry.
"The student pantry will be a place for students, staff and the community to leave food for students to take when they need it.
"The kaupapa or purpose is to leave what you can and take what you need.
"We want to ensure that no student goes hungry."
Goodge said the pantry will not only provide some good nourishment for those who need it but also help minimise food wastage.
On opening day, the pantry was already stocked with donations of fresh vegetables, lemons and a range of canned and packaged food.
Donations can be dropped off at the pantry in UCOL Whanganui atrium which is open from 7am until 7pm on Mondays to Fridays,
The launch coincided with UCOL Whanganui's first Connect event.
Connect is a monthly student-focused event bringing students together for free kai, music, and activities, and to find out about different services available to them at UCOL and around the community.
Enjoying a free soup lunch were students Ciana Kui studying towards a national certificate in security, music and performance student Roema Tatupu and art student Summer Ruissen-Hohaia.
"It's nice to have these events on campus and the soup is really tasty," said Kui.
Tatupu joined her class for a live lunchtime music performance during the event as well.
Student advocate Rebekah O'Donoghue introduced herself at the gathering and said she is available to support students with complaints, hardship applications and Work and Income appointments.
"I cover Palmerston North and Wairarapa as well as Whanganui and I'll be here fortnightly on Mondays."
O'Donoghue is a member of UCOL's student success team working to provide information, support and access to community services.