Living well with WELLfed

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)

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.

The WELLfed team
The WELLfed team

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 -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.”

Do you have a great idea?

This community project was made possible with support from the Tākai Local Initiative Fund. Get in touch if you have a great idea to make positive change for whānau in your community.

Get in touch