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Photo / Facebook @papatoetoefoodhub

Recent media reports have highlighted the growing concerns in South Auckland about the high number of people struggling with obesity and the lack of access to healthy food options.

But an exciting new initiative, supported by Healthy Families South Auckland, is aiming to tackle this very problem.

The Papatoetoe Food Hub is located in the heart of Old Papatoetoe next to the Auckland Teaching Gardens on an underutilised piece of council land and has the aim of making it easier for people to get good kai, at a time when the community is saturated with unhealthy food options.

This community-driven project aims to nurture and develop new approaches to food that will encourage policy and behaviour change to tackle food insecurity. 

Waikare Komene is the Papatoetoe Food Hub curator and he leads a team who manage a café and kitchen five days a week, as well as running a wide range of activities involving school holiday programmes, language week events, adult and kids cooking classes.

Waikare says the Papatoetoe Food Hub is all about community and food.

“We are training and upskilling people and at the same time creating delicious and affordable kai and juices,” he says. “The Papatoetoe Food Hub is showing what’s possible when community and local government work together to tackle one of our community’s toughest issues. But we’re not a food bank or a charity, it is a collective of community-led enterprises aiming to be self-sustaining and employing local people.”

The Papatoetoe Food Hub collective is made up Roots Creative Entrepreneurs, Kai Tupuna, Taiohi Whai Oranga and Auckland Teaching Gardens, Healthy Families South Auckland and Panuku Development Auckland.

Healthy Families South Auckland manager George Makapatama says reimagining how food can be served and shared in a way that also enables healthy lifestyles and community connections is at the heart of what the Papatoetoe Food Hub is all about.

“This multi-use prototyping space run by community-led enterprises has the primary purpose of making good food accessible, desirable and affordable to the local community; while also creating a hub where people can connect, learn and share new concepts related to the food.”

Waikare says the best way to understand what’s going on is just come and visit.

“We’re open Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm, so come down, have a coffee and catch a glimpse of what’s possible when South Aucklanders work together.”