Whangaroa Health Services (WHST) have opened the doors to a new food and wellness hub in Kāeo.

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Te Ara Pae Ora, The Pathway to Healthy Futures, aims to build a food secure and resilient Whangaroa, with hopes to improve hauora and oranga across the rohe.

Community voice helped shape the re-furbished building, after Covid-19 raised many questions around food systems – crisis or no crisis – meeting the needs of small rural communities.

Former Lead Systems Innovator of Healthy Families Far North, Paul Condron, said it took collaboration from the whole community to build the hub as it stands today.

“When I think back to what was happening during Covid, we were cueing outside supermarkets to get kai for our whānau and we all asked the question of ‘how did we get here?’,” he said.

“It took the whole community to build this new hub, so it’s wonderful and humbling to be standing here after three years and to see this come to fruition.”

A hāpori initiative, Tupu Tahi – Whangaroa Growing Together, led by Te Rūnanga o Whaingaroa (TROW) worked alongside whānau to explore questions and solutions together, where the idea of a food hub to distribute surplus produce, to teach, and to support the building of small farms and businesses was established.

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With support from Healthy Families, Mahitahi Hauora and other partners, WHST released the Building a Food Secure and Resilient Whangaroa Report to reframe how a food hub might operate, what role it can play to further support food security and how we might draw on the innate strengths and wisdom of the community.

Over 300 surveys were also conducted with whānau across the rohe, to understand the types of wellness projects they wanted.

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“It’s great to see how Te Rūnanga o Whaingaroa, Healthy Families Far North and our community were able to innovate, even during the pandemic,” said Bree Davis, Tumuaki CEO of Te Rūnanga o Whaingaroa.

“Everyone was impacted by the broken food system. Through further collaboration with WHST, the community can be proud to see their prototype come to life."

The hub includes six offices, a meeting room, a classroom for workshops and a fully functional kitchen, which will compliment other services provided by WHST including the Pā Wellness Centre, the Community Teaching Garden and the Wellness Team.

WHST plan to run healthy kai workshops, supporting whānau to grow, preserve, and cook healthy food, while offices and hot desks are also available for external providers.

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WHST General Manager, Judy McHardy, said the opportunity now is to engage with whānau, and to work alongside them to shape and design how the hub can further provide awhi that truly enhances wellbeing.

“While this whare stands on the Whangaroa Health Services site, it’s for the community to shape it,” she said.  

“We want to stand back, and we want whānau to know that this is their place. We want to see and provide workshops and exciting things that they want happening here, to make those connections with one another to better support health outcomes for everyone.”

To find out more or to make a booking, contact the team at Whangaroa Health Services on (09) 405 0649 ext. 207, or email [email protected]