Murupara opens their pantries to help community's needy

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

The small town of Murupara is doing big things to help their most needy whānau ahead of Christmas. For the first time, the eastern Bay of Plenty town ran a food drive at its local community festival.

Through everyone's contribution, the whole community of Murupara will be feed.

“My mum gave me a can of peaches so I can go on this ride. It’s really cool to give our whānau cans.” said one local boy enjoying the festival.

With a population of under 1,800 what they lack in numbers they make up in generosity. The locals have opened their hearts and pantries to bring some Christmas joy to those less fortunate.

Festival Organiser Tracey Waller said, “I think it's awesome. That creates magic within communities when people give. And who knows how that helps in other people within the community as well. With all the different issues that the community faces we decided to do a payment for food items. So payment for the food items you get rides and all the face painting, balloons."

Murupara was once a thriving forestry town until the mid-1980s due to privatisation. Now the town has an unemployment rate of 27 percent, more than four times the national average.

Local Wharehuia Tamepo (Ngāti Manawa, Ngāti Whare) says, “This is good for our families and your young people to gather to foster relationships. It's right that we do this. The most important thing is to help those families in need.”

“This is a good idea and it’s appropriate to fundraise for the families,” said local teen Pīhopa (Ngāi Tūhoe, Waikato).

The food will be parcelled and distributed to those families in need during the Christmas season.