Impact Stories

Community-led approach to reducing poverty in Taumarunui

March 15, 2024

3 min read

Catherine Miller was hearing a lot about poverty in the news, thinking the government needed to do something about it. That is until she had the revelation that poverty is a community problem, and if it’s a community problem, then there must be a community solution.

Taumarunui Whakaarotahi Trust was established as that solution in 2020 with the aim to empower people and reduce poverty by working together as community to provide healthy nutrition and develop character. Whakaarotahi translates to unity – to do, think, or move as one, in essence Taumarunui United.

Trust Waikato has supported Taumarunui Whakaarotahi Trust with grants for the last three years towards their community solution to poverty and increasing resilience and connectivity in Taumarunui.

Community garden that provides more than kai

They operate a community garden in Manunui where volunteers are able to take produce from the garden and those who regularly assist receive a meat koha at the end of the week. The purpose being to encourage and develop character and good work habits – turning up on time, working for a set period, regular commitment, service of community and teamwork.

This model prepares people for better employment, encourages community volunteerism and empowers people to realise they can contribute to something. It also provides nutritious food to those who otherwise would struggle to afford regular fresh vegetables and meat.

The produce then goes into vegetable boxes sold within the community at a discounted rate and gifted towards tangi and surplus vegetables are preserved to reduce food wastage. Vegetable seedling packs are provided to local kura and marae to assist them in establishing their own gardens.

Bringing the community’s talents and skills together

They began holding regular markets to sell the vegetable boxes, providing a space for local entrepreneurs and creatives to showcase their talent and sell their own products, and have a catch up with others in community.

Their ongoing partnership with Te Awanui a Rua Trust and Land Based Training enabled the maara and adjacent hall to be used for teaching local people new skills such as horticulture and apiculture, thereby increasing self-sufficiency.

Recent developments include bee hives, establishing a native nursery and the expansion of their orchard. Learn more on the Taumarunui Whakaarotahi Trust website.

Mums with daughters at the Manunui community garden holding seedlings

Toddlers and parents collecting seedlings from the Manunui community garden.