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Papakura kids rebuild community pātaka

Published: 4 March 2019

The kids at Park Estate School in Papakura know all about the value of kindness.

Painted above the doors are the words ‘Aroha - kind words, kind actions’, so being a good neighbour to those around them is important. 

When they heard about Neighbours Day events being funded by Papakura Local Board they were keen to take part, but they were soon thinking on a grander scale than the $200 maximum grant per event.

Young Sincier Tairakena only had to look out his Jupiter Street home’s window to find the perfect project. Snuggled neatly against mum Trina’s fence is the neighbourhood food pantry – pātaka, where those with too much can leave food and other items for those with not enough.

The pātaka, little more than some old shelving with plastic draped across to keep the elements at bay, was looking a little sad, so Sincier and his friends Orlando Potini, Samarah Hafoka and Curtis Heka-Phillips set to work alongside caretaker Les Cornish on a watertight replacement.

"They’ve come up with all the ideas and done a lot of the work themselves, with a bit of supervision," Les says. 

Deputy principal Gretchen Bennett is proud of her young community-minded charges.

"Kindness is something we try to instil in our students and when Sincier and the others told us what they wanted to do we thought we had to make it happen."

"I think the food cupboard is good," says Sincier.

"It’s my job to keep it tidy. I have to clean up the shelves every day."

Papakura Local Board Chair Brent Catchpole was impressed when he dropped by the school to see the project.

"Sometimes I see things from our young people, incredible little acts, that make me think we are a bit too quick to judge.

"If the kids at Park Estate are all growing up valuing kindness and the people around them, then we don’t have too much to worry about."