Street pantries feed the needy

Whangarei Report - - NEWS -

Lexia Popata likes help­ing peo­ple.

So when she heard there were peo­ple in her com­mu­nity need­ing food, she de­cided to do some­thing about it.

The Whanga¯ rei woman is be­hind the city's first Pataka Kai - Pataka Rau­rimu - an out­door open street pantry where peo­ple can take food they need, and do­nate what they can.

"It's like a lit­tle dairy and it's all free," she said.

The Pataka Kai move­ment has seen street pantries pop up all over the coun­try - in­clud­ing in North­land.

Popata first heard about one in Hast­ings and thought it was a good idea so de­cided to open one in Rau­rimu Ave where she lives.

She said she has had help from the com­mu­nity from the very be­gin­ning with peo­ple do­nat­ing their time to build it in­clud­ing a fa­ther of six who built the pantry roof on Fa­ther's Day, and Can­vas and Cov­ers Whanga¯ rei who do­nated a door for the pantry.

"I'm over­whelmed by the aroha from ev­ery­one - it's just give give give."

Popata said it was also the com­mu­nity who got the pantry run­ning. She was ly­ing down af­ter work one morn­ing when her niece ran in and told her peo­ple were putting food in the pantry.

"They started it for me, more or less. There were quite a few peo­ple won­der­ing what I was build­ing and some peo­ple clicked on. Food Res­cue gave some fruit and bread and that's when I thought I might as well pull ev­ery­thing out and start with­out a roof and with­out a door."

The pantry is now open 24/7. In ad­di­tion to the food in the pantry she has meat in her freezer and but­ter in the fridge. She writes what she has in stock on a black­board and peo­ple can ring a bell and ask for the kai.

"Peo­ple say ‘you're do­ing an amaz­ing job, hope you get blessed' peo­ple just stop and say some­thing and they don't want any­thing."

Popata said she has put to­gether food parcels for fam­i­lies in need, and do­nated to Pataka Kai in O¯ tan­garei, Ko­kich Cres and Waima­hanga Rd too.

She said re­cently peo­ple have been tak­ing and not giv­ing, but she sus­pects that's be­cause it is the school hol­i­days.

Other than that peo­ple have been gen­er­ous.

"One lady and her two sons do­nated two boxes of gro­ceries.

"She went to New World and brought all of these gro­ceries and trea­sures - you name it she did it and she didn't want any­thing."

Ruakaka Dog Res­cue even do­nated pet food.

PHOTO/MICHAEL CUN­NING­HAM

Lexia Popata said Pataka Rau­rimu - Whanga¯ rei's first street pantry is like a lit­tle dairy but all the food is free.

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