07 November 2023
Located in Cannons Creek, Porirua, is a free adult education initiative that was designed together with the local community. The initiative connects whānau wellbeing and hauora with parenting and tamariki development.
On any given day, you can find members of the community cooking, laughing, and sharing kai as tamariki play in the green space at the old bowling green on Hampshire Street.
Focused on kai, cooking classes, and learning for life, WELLfed is a kaupapa dedicated to upskilling the community so that everyone, regardless of their past or present, can lead rich and fulfilling lives.
Kai is what brings the people of Porirua together, and Kim Murray, co-founder of WELLfed, believes it has the power to change lives for the better.
“It’s having shared food around a table that brings a community together,” she says.
The one recipe that changed it all
Seven years ago, after teaching a mother-of-four to bake muffins for the first time, Kim saw the difference cooking could make.
“Cooking is such a source of pride and generosity,” she says.
“Having shared food around a table is a great way for people to come together, and this woman was taking her baking to church and beyond. It was starting to create a ripple effect.”
In response, Kim and her friend Rebecca got a group together to run a volunteer cooking class. Participants learned how to plan, shop, safely prepare and cook low-cost, healthy kai for their tamariki and whānau. The feedback was so positive that the two wāhine decided to hold it again, and it didn’t take long before word spread, and one class became WELLfed.
A taste of WELLfed (transcript)
[Graphic: WELLfed logo]
[Text on screen: Rebecca Morahan, Co-founder]
WELLfed started in May 2016 when we had met some beautiful people who were asking how to cook. We looked around and there didn't seem to be anything that was meeting that need within our community here in Porirua.
[Text on screen: Kim Murray, Co-founder]
The mums were asking how do we cook low-cost healthy meals so we decided to start some classes and sort of see how we'd go from there.
[Text on screen: Beddy Otukolo]
I am a mother of nine. I feed 11 mouths. Our budget before I joined WELLfed was up to 500 and then when I joined WELLfed my budget has dropped down to 300.
[Text on screen: Aaron Wiese]
I think what they're doing here is perfect for the community, for families, helping people cook, giving budget ideas and you know, maybe it's people that don't really know all of this sort of stuff.
[Text on screen: Maree Mooar]
When I first joined WELLfed I didn't have confidence and stuff. Not only now do I get out of the house and meet new people but now I've joined Whitireia Polytech and I'm getting a degree in cooking which WELLfed inspired me to do.
[Text on screen: Mike Tana, Porirua City Mayor]
200 people have learnt new skills about what they're gonna do to feed their family healthy, nutritious, hot meals. How to do it on a budget. I think the results of what WELLfed’s done in Porirua speaks for itself.
It's really uplifting, it's creating rippling social changes through families, through children that live in those families, and the wider community.
WELLfed's inspired me to start my own garden at home. Before WELLfed I'd never even thought about doing a garden.
She can come here and you learn how to cook food that's nutritional and good for you which will better the whole community.
WELLFed is special because it’s built by the community, it's run within the community, so the original ladies that started off as learners now come back and they volunteer for WELLfed.
Now I have been promoted as a senior WELLfed chief to teach others as well and to be able to teach my own children.
After WELLfed we’re actually doing a business course so now I'm thinking we can start us a food truck.
We're on that journey from where we started here at WELLfed, to growing our own veggies, to starting a course and hopefully get our food truck.
This is why we need WELLfed in Porirua, actually we need it in every city in New Zealand.
In the future WELLfed would like to set up classes wherever there's a need, because we've shown that these classes can really make a difference in the communities.
We have big dreams that WELLfed has a place and a space to grow and be across this country. There's so much scope for us all to learn how to feed our families well.
[Graphic: WELLfed logo]
[Text on screen: Help us enable and empower families to learn how to feed their families WELL]
[Graphic: WELLfed logo]
[Text on screen: www.wellfed.kiwi/donate-to-wellfed, www.wellfed.kiwi, www.facebookcom/WELLfedNZ/]
From kai to parenting and beyond
The WELLfed team walk alongside whānau, supporting them to build lots of different life skills in addition to the six-month cooking classes.
From leadership, CV writing, and parenting skills, to connecting whānau with other support agencies, WELLfed is there for everyone who needs it. Plus, they encourage whānau to pass on what they’ve learned by becoming tutors and volunteers.
More than half of their paid staff are previous graduates of their programmes, and Kim says it helps expand the kaupapa while keeping it finely tuned to what the community needs.
So it’s like someone across the road is teaching their neighbour. We have kindy kids coming into our community gardens, who go home and tell their parents and the next day they’ve enrolled in WELLfed. It’s all community-led.
Planting seeds for the future
With the help of facilitator Vicky Ellison, some funding from Tākai and support from Brainwave Trust Aotearoa, WELLfed now run two different parenting groups across six to eight weeks aimed at parents and caregivers of under-fives and up to adolescents. The classes are focused on child development and tikanga-based parenting practices.
“We've just finished the first three weeks and people have said it’s one of the best parenting courses they’ve been on,” Kim says.
“Vicky was previously employed with SKIP (which is now Tākai) and she’s just an amazing educator.”
With many parents and whānau attending their courses and workshops, it was important to Kim and Rebecca that they provide a space where tamariki can be well, too – whether it’s a playroom upstairs, kid-friendly recipes, or a garden to visit.
Being able to offer parenting groups that resonate with Māori and Pacific whānau is, to them, the cherry on top.
“When we see success, no matter how small, we know we’re planting a seed for a very bright future.”