Working together to build food security in the Hutt Valley

A partnership forged between two Wellington organisations to provide food to people in the Hutt Valley during the Covid-19 lockdown has led both of them in exciting – and unexpected – directions.

Tākiri Mai te Ata Whānau Ora Collective and Common Unity Project Aotearoa (CUPA) teamed up during the lockdown to provide groceries, fresh produce and freshly cooked meals after local foodbanks temporarily closed down. 

Tākiri Mai te Ata, a collective of seven health, housing, and social service providers in the Hutt Valley, then went on to set up a permanent pātaka kai (food pantry) in Wainuiomata and, with help from CUPA, they also established a maara kai (garden) to grow fresh produce. It’s become a focal point for the local community, many of whom have also established gardens at home. 

“Before we went into lockdown we never imagined we would be doing this,” says general manager Teresea Olsen.

Now CUPA, which brings people together in Lower Hutt to grow food and cook lunches for local whānau and create employment through community-owned enterprise, is working with Tākiri Mai te Ata to help it set up a social enterprise to fund the pātaka and maara kai.

The two organisations are also establishing a regional food network to improve food security in the area; both are committed to promoting long-term social change. 

CUPA founder Julia Milne says the partnership with Tākiri Mai te Ata also helped steer them in a new direction. They are now setting themselves up as a learning hub to share their knowledge with other organisations keen to build food security and set up community-owned enterprises. 

"We're in a beautiful place to test and try that out with our friends at Tākiri Mai te Atat." she says.