Hope Kete

Published on June 22, 2022


Feeding mouths and hearts in Horowhenua

Born out of need amplified by the COVID-19 outbreak, Hope Kete has been feeding mouths in Horowhenua since 2020 and continues to grow. The idea of a free food store in Levin is based on a similar Palmerston North initiative ‘Just Zilch’. 

Horowhenua residents had been travelling to Manawatū to receive free food parcels, but with rising petrol costs, this service is becoming out of reach for some.

Hope Kete Store Manager Tania Turipa describes Hope Kete’s vision as distributing edible food, which would otherwise be wasted or thrown out, to anyone within the community struggling financially.

The food is sourced mostly from New Zealand Food Network. It is distributed to Shannon Kai Club, Te Awahou Kai, Hinemoa House, Society of St Vincent de Paul, Life to the Max and Taitoko Kindergarten, and is used for isolation packs for people homebound by COVID-19.

At the heart of Hope Kete is the popular weekly drop-in store at their Kent Street site. 

“Our regulars become whānau; Hope Kete is its own community. People come and help each other and form new friendships,” Ms Turipa says. “Helping people humbles me. I’ve been in that position before.”

About 130 families come to the store each week and select what they need from the goods available. Everyone is welcome to use Hope Kete with no questions asked and no names are taken. The only information recorded are statistics around how many people use the service and how many food items they provide each week.

“It’s important not to judge. You don’t know what people’s stories are.”

The amount of grocery items given in the community continues to grow.

More than a tonne of food and grocery items are gifted each week, and leftover meals prepared by Lunch by Libelle for the Ka Ora, Ka Ako healthy school lunches programme are often left outside on days when Hope Kete aren’t open, for people to come and collect.

Partnered with Community Fruit Harvest, there are teams which pick fruit around the region, and local residents also provide home grown produce, to be shared among those who need it.

Local supermarkets have donated items to raffle to support Hope Kete, and using grants from Horowhenua District Council and Horowhenua Trust, a $20,000 chiller has been installed to store perishable food Hope Kete receives during the week.

Beyond providing food, Hope Kete has evolved to share sanitary items, cleaning products, pet food, nappies and baby wipes. Clothing and bric-a-brac donated by the community is also available.

More than a dozen people volunteer at Hope Kete and support similar initiatives including the Winter Wrap which, calling from donations from the community, distribute warm winter clothing and blankets for local tamariki.

Hope Kete operates from Hope Centre on Kent Street Levin. They are open to the public on Wednesdays 1pm-4pm and advertise on Facebook when leftover school lunches are available during the week. There are no criteria to use the service, and new volunteers or donations are always welcome.

“It’s important not to judge. You don’t know what people’s stories are.”
~Tania Turipa

Photo above: Charlotte Birkett – Store Assistant, and Tania Turipa – Store Manager.