Non-profit kaupapa helping 'struggling whānau in the Far North' despite pandemic

Source: 1News

A whānau-focused movement in the Far North has grown to the point it is now supplying up to 200 meals a day for those in need in the region after it was created just nine months ago.

One Whānau at a Time was a kaupapa created by Papa Hone to help struggling Kiwis out.

"It started from us giving kai to a grandmother and her mokopuna [grandchildren] in a park in Kaitaia and it's escalated nine months from there to this," Papa Hone told Breakfast. 

"We've been collecting furniture, koha, donations from around Auckland, Aotearoa, everywhere, bringing them back to Kaitaia and we give away all this stuff."

Papa Hone said the idea came from seeing people giving away items free online.

"Aucklanders give us so much stuff that we can't even keep up with what we're bringing back," he said.

"We get the stuff that people usually sell or throw in the dump and we bring it back to Kaitaia and it's all for free.

"We give away beds, fridges, dryers - we've set up whole houses up here... for struggling whānau in the far north and we've been doing this tirelessly with no funding at all.

"I didn't know how long this was going to last but we're growing, we're thriving."

Papa Hone says one man's trash is another man's gold.

Rachel Kearney, who is also part of the intitiative, said you can't help but want to help those in need when you've seen what they've seen.

"We've got tamariki [children] sleeping on the floor, we've got elders in houses with no water, no power, no toilet, no kitchen - basically a bedroom.

"It's heartbreaking."

The pair said it's "overwhelming" to see how much a little kindness can do.

"The impact is just them knowing that there's hope," Papa Hone.

"The stuff that we've seen would make you cry."

Kai for Kaumātua

Meals prepped as part of the Kai for Kaumātua programme.

Papa Hone said the return of Covid-19 and with it the Alert Level 4 lockdown initially paused their ability to help others but through determination and investigation, they managed to find safe ways to continue their work and with it, a new initiative - Kai for Kaumātua.

"We get a message from a 70-something-year-old kuia out in Karekare that just had open heart surgery six weeks ago and we know her and she says to me, 'Papa, I haven't eaten for a couple of days, I can't eat'.

"So me being me, I jump in the deep end, and we go over there, we find out how to do this contactless delivery, we go over there and give her kai, talk to her, do it all contactless and she cries - and that set off [Kai for Kaumātua].

"We're only five days into this, we've never done this before but I wake up every day with ideas of how to help people and we helped this old lady and she has been the catalyst for getting this meals on wheels started up here in the far north."

Papa Hone said in under a week, they've managed to get to a point where they are now serving up to 200 meals a day.

"Five days ago, we fed one Kaumātua. Then we get a little whānau, a little group that helps us and one of us is actually a chef so he set his whole house up so he's pumping out probably 100 plus meals a day.

"We've set his kitchen with more utilities and stuff and now he could be pumping out up anything from 150 to 200 meals a day.

"We cater for as far from Ahipara on the west to Taipara on the east."

Papa Hemi said those who are interested in supporting their cause can check out the initiatives on their Facebook page or website.