A partnership between Hutt City Council and Te Awa Kairangi Kai Collective has won a prestigious national award for its efforts in providing food for people in need across Lower Hutt.
The Collective has been honoured with the Local Government New Zealand’s (LGNZ) Kāinga Ora Homes and Communities EXCELLENCE Award for Social Wellbeing, ahead of seven other council initiatives from across the country.
Te Awa Kairangi Kai Collective is a community-led initiative of like-minded partners that includes Common Unity, Kōkiri Marae, Lower Hutt Foodbank, Stokes Valley Foodbank and Te Aroha Kai, supported by Hutt City Council.
After coming together during the COVID-19 pandemic to meet an urgent need for food, community partners have created an enduring partnership that is improving food security and enabling people to thrive.
Lower Hutt Mayor, Campbell Barry says the recognition belongs to the unsung community heroes who have worked tirelessly to help struggling families across our city.
“I want to congratulate and thank everyone who has been involved in this initiative so far,” said Mayor Barry.
“At a time when so many of our whānau have been feeling the pinch in the back pocket, the Kai Collective has been able to ensure that there is food on the table for our families and kids,” he said.
Te Awa Kairangi Kai Collective co-initiator, Julia Milne says the success of the collective is the result of an authentic partnership between Council and community.
“That partnership places the values and the power of collaboration firmly at the heart of our work together,’ said Ms Milne.
“COVID-19 gave us the opportunity to innovate and work in new ways, and Hutt City Council empowered the community to lead which enabled us to imagine a greater kai resilient community together,” she says.
Hutt City Council Chief Executive Jo Miller says the win “really celebrates what can be achieved when Council walks alongside community organisations in genuine partnership to direct services and support directly to people in times of crisis.”
The Collective evolved out of an initial partnership between Kōkiri Marae and Common Unity during lockdown 2020.
During Lockdown 2021, Common Unity, Hutt City Salvation Army, Lower Hutt Foodbank, Ōrongomai Marae, Stokes Valley Foodbank and Te Aroha Kai formed the Hutt Valley Emergency Kai Collective in a joint response to the food insecurity exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with Council, they pooled resources under a central hub to coordinate and distribute food to households across Te Awa Kairangi Lower Hutt.
Hutt City Council supported the co-ordination of the central hub through its Community Funding for Recovery initiative. During Alert Levels 3 and 4 council vehicles were used to help with deliveries, with staff joining the effort to provide food and essential supplies to the community.
Council continues to provide funding and actively support the collective.