Teisha Paratene and her husband Wiremu have been running a community meal in Gate Pa for the past two years.
They started off feeding their community outside their home in Arataki at Easter in 2015.
“It was bands, bibles and bangers,” says Wiremu.
“We had a band and barbecue set up on the footpath and wanted to get out the real meaning of Easter.” When their property was needed to make way for new roading, they moved to Gate Pa.
“I saw that right outside our home was the hot spot for fights,” says Teisha.
“We contemplated whether we should move. But instead we decided to make a stand.”
The couple decided to occupy the space and use it for what they believe is God’s purpose.
“The first thing to do was to feed them,” says Teisha. “Some friends from church came around, we sat and prayed, and they wrote scripture and buried them in each corner of the property. Then all of a sudden all the kids were just flocking here. So we focused on feeding them. We did it every Saturday for a year and then it outgrew the footpath so we purchased a bigger gazebo and moved to Anzac Park about August 2016.”
Since that beginning, with volunteers, family and friends helping, they’ve run fortnightly Saturday lunches at Anzac Park, and a weekly free food table in front of their house.
Every Friday, about 20 sacks of bread are gone by lunch time, so they put out more bread, thanks to support from a local business. Plans are underway to build a free food pantry, and kit out a caravan with professional cooking equipment already purchased.
“We’d like to find someone to sponsor the free food caravan,” says Teisha.
“We also need someone to put it together.”
She woke up one morning recently and found her legs weren’t working. Now aged 38, Teisha knows it’s a result of the damage done from methamphetamine addiction in her 20s.
Breaking free from violence and addictions has been a pathway she has walked with the steady support of Wiremu, who she married in 2011.
The couple have a three-year-old son.
Now confined to a wheelchair, Teisha has help while Wiremu is at work.
Despite being paralysed from the hips down, she continues on with a team of volunteers, giving out to the community around them.
The group have registered Haeata Trust to help those in need. Haeata means ‘a beam of light’. As well as providing food, clothing and assistance, they are looking
to partner with other organisations to provide help for people overcoming issues in their lives.