Since it was established in Blenheim in mid-2020, the charitable organisation,Te Pātaka Incorporated has been a huge success.

In the months since the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown, the charity has received  over 1650 referrals, it has suported 1423 whānau, which represents around 4,498 individuals and it now has 74 referral agencies. Yet none of this could have been achieved without the commitment of the eight manawhenua iwi, volunteers and community support says Te Pātaka chairwoman, Dr Lorraine Eade.

“Our whole community has come on board. We’ve had support from organisations like the Ministry of Social Development, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, Te Puni Kōkiri,  the NZ Food Network, the Department of Conservation, right down to local businesses, marae and individuals,” she says.

Dr Eade ( Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Toa, Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Koata, Rangitāne, Ngāi Tahu), says Te Pātaka was established after the Marlborough Māori Welfare Recovery Team delivered over 409 support packages to whānau with emergency needs during the 2020 lockdown.

“As soon as Covid-19 lockdown hit in 2020, we partnered with Marlborough emergency management and provided a parallel welfare response for our people. That was the genesis of Te Pātaka –so many people saw the value of our work and they put their hands up to help our whānau get back on their feet.”

In mid-2020, the charity received funding assistance from both the Ministry of Social Development and Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu. Dr Eade says the Te Pūtahitanga funding was huge asset, enabling Te Pātaka to establish its infrastructure, to engage staff, and to scale up its warehouse facility to meet the increasing demand for its services. It also enabled them to establish their communications strategy, social media profile, and to obtain social service accreditation.

“We couldn’t have done it without them,” says Dr Eade.

“Their resource enabled us to move forward with a solid foundation and we are enormously appreciative of that.”

At the same time she says, Te Pātaka’s journey had always been a massive group effort.

“We’ve had the support of so many agencies – plus substantive donations from local people – and without that community approach, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

“We’ve had the support of so many agencies – plus substantive donations from local people – and without that community approach we wouldn’t be where we are today."

The ongoing success of the organisation has seen it expand its work from its Blenheim base to now supporting whānau in need across the top of the South Island.

“Iwi wanted to support the extension of the pātaka model throughout the Tasman/Nelson region, and that became a key kaupapa of Te Kotahi o Te Tauihu Charitable Trust, alongside housing, employment and wellbeing.  Their mantra is around creating the best conditions for whānau to thrive,  and one of those objectives is that “no whanau should go hungry”.    We have worked really hard to get kai packages out to those in need.

“Some whanau have still not recovered since the first lockdown of 2020, plus we have a whole new cohort of those needing our help and it can be hard for them to reach out for help.

“We are now having to look at the sustainability of our model if we are to cope with the increased demand,” Dr Eade says.

“Massive demand for Te Pātaka kai parcels during levels 3 and 4 meant we had to quickly centralise the referral process for kai parcels. We’ve learnt a lot from this process and so will continue on with a centralised triage model.

Now all referrals for Te Pātaka (from referral agencies) should be made using the form below, which covers the entire Te Tauihu rohe, from Mohua to the Wairau.

Referral Form link:

“We’ve been operating for over a year now but the demand is still there.  It’s a real privilege to work in this area and we try to make our process as easy as possible for whānau. I think the very real benefit of our support is that it gives whānau breathing space – a chance to catch their breath until their next pay day. It means they can feed their whānau and that releases a huge amount of stress for families,” Dr Eade says.