“Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi.”
 With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive.

Last week, I was fortunate to be able to volunteer at Huria marae-He Rourou Aroha, supported by Huria Trust. Alongside community groups Kai Aroha – Feeding our hungry community, Under the Stars – Homeless in Tauranga, and Curate Church, they combined efforts to ensure uninterrupted provision of meals, during lockdown.

During Alert Level 4, the meals have more than quadrupled from a weekly list of 40+ lunches for the homeless, to now include vulnerable whānau.

He Rourou Aroha normally cater to the homeless from Huria marae but, like others within the network, this wasn’t possible.  So, with a little forward planning, this network formed and progressed a plan that would see a combined effort to ensure the continuation of meals for the city’s homeless, and a shared workload which would help providers to cope with demand.

Thankfully, my grandchildren lent their support and picked two boxes of fresh fruit from home to add to the 230+ lunch packs, prepared at Huria marae. Along with donations of food from Good Neighbour, the team combined their food resources and cooked, prepared, packed and delivered, lunches to our most vulnerable.


I made it just in time to add the fresh fruit to the lunch packs and before I knew it, the van and three other vehicles were loaded with boxes full of packed lunches and ready to roll in different directions.  With list in hand, my host and I were allocated – Otumoetai, Bellevue, and Waihi Road, but our first port of call was the CBD, in downtown Tauranga.

When we arrived at the CBD, a few homeless folk were already waiting and according to my host this was only a handful of the normal. We met a security guard who was gathering the homeless together and guiding them to where we’d setup in the carpark across from TCC.  He advised that there were more here earlier, but they had left advising, they’d be back. 

We were privileged to hear a little bit about his journey and how his personal situation changed for the better. His life is very different today because he now has work and accommodation, which he didn’t have a year ago.  He spoke of his gratitude for the people who had given him hope, took time out to have conversations with him and helped him on his journey to-date. He regards the homeless as part of his family. We were able to leave meals with him for those who missed our delivery.
A makeshift Notice Board for the homeless, during L4 Lockdown.

While at our first stop, I met a couple who had earlier been to Huria Sports Club with hopes of  being tested by CBAC – Covid-19 Assessment Unit.  Unfortunately, the lines were too long and they’d decided to wait for the next visit.  I also met an older gentleman and regular; he is looking for any kind of work, enjoys anything that keeps him physically active and busy.  He is also looking for accommodation close to the hospital

Here at CBD, we received two self-referrals for health and social support, which were passed onto the team at Huria Trust, for action.

I was impressed that a makeshift noticeboard had been taped to the back of the bus depot.  This noticeboard lists all the homeless providers, the days they are delivering meals, where, and when.  The board also includes Providers and their contact numbers as well as contact details for Heathline, Lifeline, Womens Refuge, BOP Welfare, BOP MH Crisis support and even ‘Clothes on Wheels’, just to name a few!  Messages are left on this board by the homeless and providers return to document their responses.

Still in the CBD, we visited three other areas known to be frequented by the homeless and we unloaded more meals as they made their way to us. They were also very grateful for the food, and I believe the conversation too, as my host made the point to always ask how everyone was coping during lockdown.

Our next stop, was at one of two hotel/motel we visited in the CBD.  We merged our client list with one hotel manager only to find there were a few more than we had on our list. Thankfully, the team had packed spares ‘just in case’…and it paid off.

From town, we worked our way towards Otumoetai then Bellevue, dropping off meals according to our list. We were also able to support a nan and her grandchildren (not on our list), who gratefully accepted the packed meals.

The operation was well coordinated, as were the deliveries. While my host and I had our allocated delivery areas, another three vehicles were sent out ensuring the four corners of the community were covered.  Overall, 230+ lunches were cooked, prepared, packed and delivered into the community.

With the last of our food deliveries completed we arrived back at Huria Marae just in time to see more of the team along with whanau volunteers leaving, to deliver essential care-packs to vulnerable families. They completed these deliveries at 6.30pm

Along with Huria Trust, Maori Providers uplift the essential care-packs provided through Nga Mataapuna Oranga on behalf of Te Puni Kokiri.  The Whanau Ora allocated funding provides these essential care packs, for vulnerable whanau.  The Providers involved with coordination, are tasked with delivering the packs across the western BOP.

It was a long day for Huria Trust team and volunteers. I was only there for half the time they were and I was reasonably tired from the afternoon!

Many of our Providers in Tauranga Moana and Western Bay of Plenty are doing the hard yards and aiding those in need.  You are all heroes in my books!

A special thanks and huge respect to the team at Huria Trust for the opportunity to be part of your awesome support network and mahi. I take my hat off to you all. Ka nui te aroha ki a koutou.

Last Word from He Rourou Aroha – Huria Trust

He mihi taioreore ana ki a koutou katoa!

As we near the end of the lockdown period and begin to move from response mode to recovery we are really only starting to see the long term effects of Covid-19.

We are humbled and grateful to provide some relief for some of our community along with many others – Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu 💕

There is still a long road ahead so if you would like to support by way of koha, kai, Kai preparation, deliveries etc then please send us a message.

Arohanui ❤️  Huria Trust  (07) 5787838