Kai brings people together, and the act of sharing kai with our whānau and neighbours is proving to be a great way to create positive connections across communities.

Healthy Families Hutt Valley Systems Innovator, Emily Welch says “We know that social connectedness is a key driver of wellbeing and resilience and when we put that together with sharing kai in our neighbourhoods our communities become happier, healthier and better places to live, learn, work and play.”

We’re seeing wonderful connections grow and strengthen thanks to committed community champions and a Koha Kai pātaka in Walter Nash Park in Taitā.

Healthy Families Hutt Valley has been working in Taitā to grow our understanding of the kai system through the eyes of the people that live and spend time there. The Koha Kai pātaka emerged out of insights that the local food system and environment is not meeting the basic needs of people living in Taitā.

Through listening to our community we learnt more about the challenges whānau face when food choices are affected by multiple factors such as access, time, money, family and lifestyle. We took action from these insights and joined with community champions already leading change and making a difference for whānau.

The pātaka lives inside Walter Nash Park near Common Ground, a community led project transforming the park into a true common ground. Community champions Sue Rei and a small team of generous volunteers spend time with local tamariki and whānau to create a space that is welcoming and connected.

They have created an ideal place to come together and share, give what you can to the pātaka and take what you need for your whānau.

“We know that where we live and the places that we spend our time in can either support our wellbeing or be a barrier, making it harder to be well. It is powerful to be able to co-create a space within the community where whānau can access basic food supplies close to home”.

Supporting the meaningful work of community champions is one step Healthy Families Hutt Valley is taking to make good food a reality for more people across Te Awa Kairangi.