Foodstuffs North Island CEO Chris Quin and Te Whare Ruruhau o Meri Kaihautu DeeAnn Wolferstan at the newly opened Te Hiku Pātaka

Foodstuffs North Island and Te Kahu Oranga Whānau have opened the doors at New Zealand’s first Māori-led social supermarket, Te Hiku Pātaka in Kaitaia.

Te Hiku Pātaka is a Te Kahu Oranga Whānau led initiative supported by Foodstuffs North Island – the 100% New Zealand owned and operated co-operatives behind PAK’nSAVE, New World and Four Square. The partnership is part of Foodstuffs’ pledge to be Here for NZ, helping to ensure all New Zealanders have access to healthy affordable food and supporting local communities to thrive.

In just over two months the site at 138 Commerce Street has been transformed into a supermarket environment that will proudly serve the local community, providing dignity of choice for whānau in the region who need support accessing food.

DeeAnn Wolferstan of Te Kahu Oranga Whānau says, “The pursuit of sovereignty is not new to us in the North and the pandemic reaffirmed that sovereignty of wai and kai is critical for many whānau. Te Hiku Pātaka is where whānau exercise their choices of their kai and supplies, and experience being served and supported with dignity, respect and aroha.”

“The Pātaka also includes the provision of services that support whānau development through Te Kahu Oranga Whānau. This enables us to support the aspirations of whānau and communities in Te Hiku. Our ongoing commitment is that Te Hiku Pātaka is life changing for whānau and our communities. Being the first Pātaka Māori in Aotearoa in partnership with Foodstuffs is a great start.”

Unlike the traditional food bank and food parcel model, Te Hiku Pātaka operates just like a supermarket. If someone is facing food insecurity, they can take a trolley around the shop and pick their own items off the shelf. After an initial interaction with whānau to help meet their immediate needs, the Pātaka will run a ‘low-cost model’ that asks whānau to make a small contribution toward their groceries, providing a more dignified shopping experience for all whānau.

Foodstuffs North Island Head of Membership Experience Willa Hand has been working closely with Te Kahu Oranga Whānau in the development of the Pātaka and says the transformation from empty building to fully functioning social supermarket has been amazing.

“This is a true partnership,” says Hand. “Te Kahu Oranga Whānau understand their community, and have a long-term mission to improve the wellbeing of whānau in the Far North. It’s been a privilege to come alongside the collective to support their goals in such a meaningful and effective way.

“We have brought retail expertise and logistical support, as well as providing retail and checkout training to the community team who will be running the operation, so the Pātaka can serve those in need with confidence. And in return we have learnt so much about Te Hiku o te Ika.”

In addition to expert and financial support, the Foodstuffs team has sourced equipment such as shelving and fridges from across their network and had people on the ground to help bring the Pātaka to life.

“It’s been a real team effort, right down to the smallest details. We’ve provided advice on the little things you never think about when you’re building a shop, but we do every day – like the right type of flooring to use, or the direction of the shelving,” continues Hand.

“Our vision is to engage with more communities to offer initiatives like this. It’s a truly innovative way to address the issue of food insecurity, and Foodstuffs is committed to working on locally-led projects like this that make a real difference.”

More social supermarkets planned

The opening of Te Hiku Pātaka follows the success of a Social Supermarket partnership between Foodstuffs North Island and Wellington City Mission. In its first year of operation, this initiative helped 3,268 Wellingtonians who needed food support shop with dignity in a supermarket environment and access other support services to help them get back on their feet.

Foodstuffs, which donated over 8.9 million meals through its Here for NZ food rescue partnerships and relationships in 2021, now plans to roll out its social supermarket initiatives to more communities in the year ahead. Discussions are already underway with community partners in a number of other regions, including Tokoroa, Tauranga and Whangarei, where Foodstuffs is working collaboratively to find solutions that are right for them and their local communities.

Te Kahu Oranga Whānau, is a collective of iwi and Māori organisations in Te Hiku o te Ika (the Far North), including Waitomo Papakāinga Development Trust, Te Whare Ruruhau O Meri, Te Rūnanga o te Rarawa and Tuhiata Mahi Ora.

The name Pātaka was chosen because it refers to a food storehouse or community pantry – a place that replenishes local whānau and is contributed to by all.

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