At the heart of Papatoetoe’s town centre is The Food Hub. This community-driven project is showing the positive results of a public, private and community partnership, and highlights what’s possible when you bring together the resources of local community, traditional knowledge, private entities and local government to support a unique initiative.
The Papatoetoe Food Hub has unlocked the potential of an underutilised asset - a former netball court and club house – and transformed the Auckland Council owned site into a centre for community gathering around good food.
The social enterprise is operated by the Food Hub Collective and is one of the few options locally for quality, nutritious and delicious meals at reasonable pricing. It also provides an alternative for those who often find it difficult to buy all required ingredients within their budget.
The Collective operates two cafes offering eat in and take away options five days a week, and is the only food business in New Zealand with an upcycled menu, rescuing surplus produce from private businesses and using those ingredients to create good and affordable meals and juices.
The bustling cafe and meeting place is a space where locals can enjoy cultural and indigenous food options that are “good for the pocket, the puku and the planet”.
Waikare Komene, Raju Ramakrishna and Michelle Potoru are the directors of the Food Hub Collective and their kaupapa is all about good food and community.
“That includes upskilling our staff, all from the neighbourhood, and at the same time creating delicious and affordable kai and juices,” says Waikare. “It’s about reimagining how food can be served and shared in a way that enables community connections and wellbeing”.
“We’re not a food bank or a charity as our aim is to be a community-led good food business, self-sustaining and employing local people. We’re focused on providing good and affordable food to our community.”
Some of the Food Hub's recent achievements include:
- adapting to post COVID-19 lockdown, implementing a free delivery and pre-order pickup system for good affordable meals
- partnerships with farmers in Pukekohe to rescue surplus produce and turn it into soup for local schools in Papatoetoe
- partnership with New World Papatoetoe Supermarket in a unique ‘upcycle’ food scheme that resulted in 15 tonnes of produce being rescued from between September 2019 to June 2020
- the availability of cultural and indigenous food in Papatoetoe including hangi and umu
- supporting local food businesses to set up and achieve health and safety ratings
- providing work opportunities for Papatoetoe youth and locals
- being awarded the South Auckland Community Innovation Fund, from Foundation North
- hosting the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Hon Aupito William Sio MP and Hon Jenny Salesa MP at the Papatoetoe Food Hub
The Food Hub is an example of an alternative model to enhance community food resilience and support a sustainable and local food economy. The long-term goal is for The Food Hub to be replicated in other urban centres. The idea has been conceptualised and supported by The Southern Initiative, Healthy Families South Auckland and Panuku Development Auckland.