Coronavirus Covid-19 Delta lockdown: Couple provide 1000 home cooked meals to isolated elderly

By Kirsty Wynn

A couple who have just finished a lockdown mission delivering more than 1000 home cooked meals to kaumatua say there is still more work to be done.

Hone Martin, known in the Far North as Papa Hone, and his partner Rachel Kearney, used their time in lockdown to get food to struggling elders who had lost their usual support.

The pair, who run the charity One Whanau at a Time, sourced food, had friends and whanau help prepare meals and then made contactless deliveries from Ahipara to Taipa and everywhere in between.

Days were spent on the road delivering Kai to isolated elders but when the Far North entered alert level 2 Papa Hone changed his focus.

"We loved getting out there and helping our kaumatua but now it is level 2 we have put them back into the care of their whanau who can now get to them," he said.

"We haven't finished though because the need is still great so we are now helping whanau provide for their kaumatua and feeding the families, the kids."

Papa Hone and Rachel Kearney are today's Lockdown Heroes.

The pair said the poverty they saw as they were delivering meals was heartbreaking.

"People living alone, with no heating, no kitchen, broken windows," he said.

"Some of the things we saw you wouldn't believe."

Some of the meals cooked for Papa Hone's Kai for Kaumatua delivery around Northland. Photo / Supplied

The gratitude of the elders as they received home cooked meals of roast pork, lasagne, beef stir fry and soup was humbling.

The meals were made by Papa Hone's friend Quanah Curreen and his partner Sora Fahey in their home kitchen.

On Sunday he had rallied a team of fish filleters to prepare a tonne of fresh snapper donated by Moana Fisheries - New Zealand's largest Maori-owned fishery.

Fresh snapper donated to One Whanau at a Time by Moana New Zealand. Photo / Supplied

He said he "quietly freaked out a bit" when the fresh fish was donated knowing he had to get it prepared and out to those in need.

Papa Hone from One Whanau at a Time with fresh snapper donated by fish supplier Moana New Zealand. Photo / Supplied

On Monday Papa Hone was gifted the use of the Vintage Tearooms in Kaitaia to cook 400 fish meals for local families.

That night the street outside Papa Hone's Koha Shed became a temporary contactless drive-thru with free fish meals on the menu.

"It was amazing, the community came together and we got it done. We had road cones out and people in masks with gloves giving the food.

"There were kids sitting on the grass with their meals. It was good to see."

The return to level 2 for Kaitaia means Papa Hone and Kearney can get back to their regular job of collecting and allocating household goods to those in need in the community."

More than 1000 homecooked meals were delivered by Papa Hone and his team during lockdown. Photo / Supplied

Their Facebook page 'Papa Honez One Whanau at a Time' has been the contact point for people to donate money, food, clothes, blankets and furniture and housewares.

Papa Hone said he would love to see people donate building supplies including wood, windows and doors.

"There are a lot of houses we have seen when delivering food and we can be able to help these people get their homes up to standard."

Papa Hone also has plans during level 2 to start a community garden.

He wants local whanau to plant and tend the garden and for it to be a sustainable community asset.

"I have some land and a friend with a machine plough to come and prepare the garden," he said.

"The cost of fresh vegetables keeps going up so I want whanau to plant, nurture and grow their own food."

To find out more about One Whanau at a Time click here.

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