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The Maori words Tautoko Whanau roughly translate to “extended family support” and that’s exactly what Melbourne’s Tautoko Whanau (MTW) provides to its community.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been particularly tough for Victoria’s New Zealand community with many Kiwis losing their jobs and unable to qualify for JobKeeper or JobSeeker. At the height of COVID, MTW was feeding 600 people a week out of two pantries.

“People were going to work every day then suddenly they had nothing,” said ‘Paki’ Scott, volunteer pantry coordinator (pictured below). “They found themselves in really tough, heartbreaking situations at no fault of their own.”

Operating out of a donated Brooklyn industrial unit, the charity covers the whole of Melbourne and Geelong.  Many of the families it supports with food assistance, including FareShare’s cooked meals, are very large with up to 16 people.

“I’ve been a client here myself,” says Paki. “I lost my job a couple of years ago. It was a really tough time for me.”  With four children to support, Paki turned to MTW. “When we got back on our feet I couldn’t walk away. Having been there myself, I couldn’t not help.” She continued at MTW as a volunteer.

“Fortunately with support from FareShare and all our other partners we have been able to support many families.

“It’s rewarding to go home and know the team and volunteers have put our hearts and souls into it. We feel proud to be Maori and not just feed our own but everyone.”

FareShare is also proud to be making life a little easier for our Kiwi friends facing difficult times.