A garden will be set up in Akatea St to grow produce for the community thanks to a $5000 grant from the Community Covid-19 Fund grant from the Ministry of Pacific Peoples.
The Whanganui Cook Islands Community Group chairman Nga Apai said the new grant would be used to create sustainable community gardens at the residence of the church's minister, Reverend Ngataua Puapii, with the produce going to "not just our Cook Islands people, but everyone in our local community".
"A lot of that money has gone towards two tunnel houses, which will be up in January or February, in time for winter," Apai said.
"We'll seek more money out of the MPP for a hydroponic setup, but if that doesn't happen we'll probably raise [the money] ourselves. With hydroponics you have a really fast turn over."
Apai said the group had spent the past two days building planter boxes, before beginning to plant their first crops.
"Of all the things to go in first, it was a taro. I couldn't believe it. We had all kinds of plants, chillies, tomatoes, cabbages, and yet the taro plant had to go in first.
"I chucked it up on our Facebook community group and someone said 'you can take the boy out of the islands, but you can't take the islands out of the boy'."
Apai said there were several branches of the Whanganui Cook Islands Community Group, including a trust, a church, a youth component, and a "cultural side".
'We're starting up a new part as well, and they're in charge of this garden project. We call it 'pā metua', which is otherwise known as 'golden oldies'.
"Local businesses are right there to help out, especially people like Andrew Cvitanovich at the Whanganui Garden Centre, who has donated plants, and Bunnings Whanganui who helped out with the community garden supplies.
Apai said an additional Covid-19 recovery grant had also been secured for a container that would act as another "food source", housing canned foods such as corned beef and spaghetti.
"The locals need help, especially around Christmas time, so hopefully we can get that help for them. The container has been paid for, so we're just waiting for it to be dropped off."
Ngataua Puapii, who has stayed on as a minister in Whanganui after his initial church placement came to an end, said the grants had been a "blessing".
"All I've had to do is come up with some ideas around how we can help our people and our community," Puapii said.