Pātaka Kai: give what you can – take what you need

Doris Zuur fills us in on Paekākāriki’s latest community food-sharing initiative – which has been a runaway success!

Pātaka Kai. From left: Ash Richardson, Glenda Richardson, Doris Zuur and Dayll McCahon. Photo: Bob Zuur

         Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi
With your basket and my basket we will sustain the people

What do you do in Paekākāriki, when you have an idea? You meet up with your friends, and make a post on Paekākāriki Tauhokohoko!! And then the idea rolls and becomes unstoppable. 

That is exactly what happened. Dayll, Glenda, Doris from the informal group called Pae Kai (who cook for those who need it) met up in downtown Paekākāriki for coffee and Dayll shared the idea of a food pantry, as she saw it in Ruapehu Street, Paraparaumu, and further described on  www.patakai.co.nz. We were quickly convinced that our dear community is made for this. 

Sharing, swapping, and giving away is part of the Paekākāriki culture. But none of us imagined it unfolding as abundantly as it did.

We laid out all the different steps for this initiative, beginning with consulting some of the main community organisations: the school, the community board, the community garden, the Housing Trust and of course, the neighbours. We were showered with encouraging feedback and comments, including additional new ideas, in particular how to describe it. Our suggested site at the lay-by along 59-69 Wellington Road was on Council land and within a few days we got permission for this activity from them. 

Pātaka Kai installation. Photo: Bob Zuur

Long-standing Paekākāriki resident and builder Ash volunteered his time to build us such a pantry, and quoted us the costs for the materials ($650). We made a Facebook post and donations poured in. Within a few days, we had gathered the required amount, and Ash set to work. He built us a little beauty!! And so sturdy! Dayll and others set to work to paint it, and local artist Megan Salole put her creative talent into action and decorated it beautifully. 

We sponsored a first fill of the pantry from our Pae Kai account, which gets its income from donations. The giving and taking could begin. And so it did. Village businesses joined our efforts, and regularly contribute. Thank you to The Village Grocery Store, Beach Road Deli, Olde Beach Bakery, Paekākāriki Fruit Supply, Finn’s and The Perching Parrot!! You are all amazing. The residents followed suit and contributions arrived, abundantly. 

Pātaka Kai. Photo: Glenda Richardson

It has been busy. Glenda has been there just about every day, cleaning, and sorting and collecting donated goods, and the next day it is nearly all gone. Cans and other dry goods, but also lots of breads and some cakes! (Someone even very kindly transformed all the zucchini abundance and made into a Zucchini cake, and put the cake back into the pantry). 

Also, plenty of fruit and vegetables, some purchased, some from each others’ gardens and others donated. It’s all so wonderful!

So how does it work?  

All are invited to “Give what you can, and take what you need” (for yourself or your friend in Paekākāriki or neighbour). Donations can be: fruit and vegetables (including crop swapping from our gardens) and non-perishables like cereals, rice, pasta, jars and cans, tea, coffee, UHT milk, spreads etc. Also, well labelled wrapped baking (bread, biscuits, etc), with ‘made’ and ‘use by’ dates. Please no fresh meat, fish, dairy products, frozen food or cooked food. Also no boxes/bags of clothes, toys, household items etc. This pantry is only for food items. 

And who owns this pantry? We all do.  

This is separate from our Pae Kai activity which provides a night or two of free frozen, cooked meals for any household in need in the village. For Pae Kai support, just text or ring: Dayll 027 405 1109 or Glenda 027 312 4630 or email [email protected]

A note about health and safety in the Pātaka Kai

  • When donating food, think of the health and safety of others and only donate what you would eat. 
  • When taking food, check and assess yourself if the food items you are collecting are okay. We will do our best to keep it tidy and managed but we cannot be responsible for the quality of the food.  
  • The pantry gets washed out and cleaned a couple of times each week.

This incredibly busy giving and taking exchange is way beyond what we imagined and our original ideas. But then this is Paekākāriki for you! Generosity doesn’t need to be taught here – it lives here every day!

Pātaka Kai with Megan Salole artwork. Photo: Bob Zuur

Koha for both initiatives to 06 0730 0391648 00, referenced either ‘Pae Kai’ or ‘Pantry’. Donations to ‘Pae Kai’ transform into ingredients for cooking meals, and donations marked ‘Pantry’ will be used to stock up the pantry with core ingredients. 

Thank you all for your support!

Dayll McCahon, Glenda Richardson and Doris Zuur

Read about the Pae Kai initiative here.

Paekākāriki.nz is a community-built, funded and run website. All funds go to weekly running costs, with huge amounts of professional work donated behind the scenes.  If you can help financially, at a time when many supporting local businesses are hurting, we have launched a donation gateway.