South Auckland’s Ōtara Kai Village puts prices on hold to give back to community during lockdown

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Situated in the heart of South Auckland’s Ōtara Town Centre, a 40-ft container called ‘Ōtara Kai Village’ has been a provider of baby supplies, baby foods, vegetables, medical masks, and home-cooked meals - free for all during lock-down.

After the announcement was made to move Tāmaki Makaurau into alert level 3 two weeks ago, the team at Ōtara Kai Village set up strategies to ensure the health and well-being of its community, stocking up on supplies and temporarily removing all prices from its items.

Ōtara Kai Village is usually a sold-out cafe- stall whose main focus is providing affordable and healthy food to help whānau who experience food insecurity. 

"Usually we’d be a social kai cafe where one day a week we allow the community to come through and pick up any kai that's been donated by local donors," Candice Luke Lamour told Te Ao Tapatahi.

Ōtara Kai Village sources its foods by working alongside retailers and manufacturers, as well as managing a local community garden space, and all profits made from the container go back into sustaining the village.

Healthier lifestyles

Luke Lamour says the cafe provides nutritious kai such as keto, paleo and vegan, options that aren't usually available in Ōtara.

"There are a lot of people who try to live a healthier lifestyle," she says, but often are travelling outside of South Auckland to retrieve these foods.

The principles that drive Ōtara Kai Village are not only inclusive of the well-being of its community but also those fueling the kaupapa - providing hands-on employment experience for people who have a passion for their community.

"If you have a heart for the community, you're most welcome," she says. "We’ve had mothers wanting to return to work to bulk up their CV’s."

"Once you’re on site, you’ll never leave because that’s how much we love our mahi."

An app development is also set to be in the making to help people connect to others who have food to give away, including food banks or other organisations who have food at affordable prices.

Click here if you would like to help Ōtara Kai Village.