Aucklanders unite to provide free kai to homeless

By Jessica Tyson

While Auckland remains in the level 3 lockdown, non-profit groups Unite Aotearoa and Humanity New Zealand are working together to support the homeless.

Every Wednesday they meet at the Auckland central library to provide baking, fry bread and home-cooked meals donated by people within the Auckland community.

Odin Robinson from Unite Aotearoa says, “We’ve got shepherd's pie. We’ve got cakes. We’ve got barrels of strawberries. We’ve got some really nutritional kai for the whānau out here.”

Each week people from around Aukland prepare the kai and kaimahi, workers, from the non-profit groups pick the food up.

“It’s really important for us to come together, connect, unite and make more of a ripple in the communities,” says Robinson.

Owen Pomana from Humanity New Zealand says they have partner charities that also donate food, blankets and clothes.

“All it is really is connection. We just find people that have maybe lost their way in life. We’ve been doing this work for about five years, he says.

“It’s just an opportunity to meet people who have names, maybe struggling to live. And through the friendship space, what we’re doing is offer life skills, advocacy, wrap-around services.”

Pomana says he had experience falling on hard times as a drug addict and prisoner in Australia. He was sent back to New Zealand and has since changed his life to support others.

"I’m an original 501. 501s are the ones that Australians don’t like and they booted out. And for me, I fell on hard times in Australia and was sent back here to New Zealand. I just had a heart and compassion for other people because [my pastor] showed me kindness. My pastor is actually in hospital at the moment, so I’m a reflection of that kindness that visited me when I was drug-addicted, when I was lost and broken.”

Robinson says a lot of the feedback he has had while offering free kai is that “there is a lot of addiction, a lot of mental health that’s within our people on the streets.”

“A couple of weeks ago, I was asking people what they need and, for example, they were saying we need socks, beanies. So I put it out to the social media and within a week we got boxes of socks, boxes of beanies and we’re actually handing them out today.”

He says if anyone wants to donate kai or support in any other way to send a message to Unite Aotearoa on their Facebook or Instagram page.

"Humanity NZ is also on Facebook. Just follow us. Send us a message and we’ll suss it out,” says Robinson.

“What I love most about this mahi is literally just the connection, literally uniting everyone. It doesn’t matter what class, what race, sex, and religion you are. We’re all here to bring in the love, the positivity and just bring everyone together.”