The Kai Aroha team tells us the stories of why they wanted to be part of the solution – helping to improve the lives of Tauranga’s improverished families.
Whaea Tania: A Pillar of Strength
In a time of such struggle, there are angels of light that extend their generosity to selflessly serve those in need.
Born out of a desire to help our hungry community by providing a weekly meal, Kai
Aroha has grown into a space where our community can come together and share, be respected, cared for and empowered. While the ultimate vision is a world free from poverty, each journey must begin with a single step.
Although I have only been a part of the team for a short period of time, I have known Whaea Tania for fourteen years. As her former student, I was so very privileged to learn from and receive her daily wisdom and encouragement. She always provided time and a safe space for anyone who needed support.
She was and has continued to be, a constant pillar of strength not only for myself but
everyone she encounters. She is an inspiration, a leader, wahine toa, mana wahine and this is reflected in her whanau and those around her. All attributes of which underpin the values of and lay a strong foundation for Kai Aroha.
-By Ashlee Hemi
Kai and Kindness From London to Greeton
New Zealand became my new home about three months ago. For the past few years I’ve been living and volunteering with homeless organisations in London, so I was keen to get involved in the local community in the same way here in Tauranga.
One quick search of homeless-focused organisations in the area and Tania’s smiling, welcoming face popped up on my Facebook, along with many posts showing the amazing work being done by Kai Aroha.
I’ve now been volunteering with the team for a couple of months and every Friday night it
warms my heart. The kindness and compassion that everyone shows towards each other – both the Kai Aroha team and those that join us to share food – truly does go a long way and it has been amazing to see.
As a newcomer to the town it has made me personally feel so welcome, but also grateful to be a part of a movement for change that is reaching out to those in need with the simple
but important offer of kai and kindness.
In a large metropolitan capital like London, community can often only be found on a small scale, in pockets of the city that are hidden away from passers-by. So, it’s refreshing to see how Kai Aroha is bringing people together each week, connecting the community, filling hungry bellies with nutritious food – and it is wonderful to be a part of.
-By Emma Redgrove
The Best Way to Build Up
“The best way to build up – was to reach down and out to the needy.”
It was in September 2016 when my wife Rosalind and I embarked on an exciting journey with our three children to the beautiful Aotearoa. Coming to New Zealand all the way from Iceland we couldn´t be further away from home.
The purpose of the trip was to assist a struggling church fellowship. We perceived the best way to build up – was to reach down and out to the needy.
Looking into the situation in Tauranga we heard about what Tania Rickard was doing in Kai Aroha.
Rather than starting something on our own, we considered that we´d be more effective supporting someone who already was working in this field.
In October the same year, we began to visit Kai Aroha on a weekly basis. We were very impressed seeing what Tania and her team were doing. Her cheerful personality and genuine interest in helping the needy inspired us to volunteer. Although we were new kids on the block we kept on showing up and therefore received a warm welcome from Tania to join the Kai Aroha team.
Tania is a good and effective leader who started out with one pot of soup, into running an
organisation that operates on daily basis.
In spite of heart-breaking circumstances in our community, Kai Aroha has been a pleasant experience and much rewarding. We have come to know some wonderful people and developed many relationships. As Pastors of Restore Church, Kai Aroha has helped us to better connect with community and to gain a deeper awareness of the need thereby.
-By Oskar Sigurdsson