Fijian-Indian Kiwi helping the tamariki of the Waikato

Businessman Sid Patel lives and breathes the motto 'charity begins at home'.

He may be Indian, born in Fiji, but to many Ngāti Maniapoto, he's one of their own.

"My belief is the biggest prayer is to help people out, that's the biggest thing you can do," he says.

The 55-year-old moved to Te Kuiti with his wife and two kids in 1992 and opened a shop there.

He left town 12 years ago, but still gets a warm welcome when he goes back to his old store.

"Some people are still very loyal to this shop simply because of the foundation that Sid laid down here.  This will always be known as Sid's store," says local Kingi Turner.

Sid feels that he owes so much to the Te Tokanganui-a-Noho marae.

"The amount of support I got from the marae was amazing. I couldn't handle the small shop I had to open a big one because of that much support I had from the marae."

Sid felt the need to give something back in return.

"He donated all those heat pumps that are around the dining room," says Nig Wallace, who served on Te Tokanganui-a-Noho's Marae committee.

"I don't know how much that was, it was a fair bit of money. I've never forgotten him, massive man."

Sid splits his time between three businesses.  As well as a convenience store in Huntly, he owns a motel in Kaawhia and a bakery in Putararu.

"Our company does quite well, I'm thankful for Huntly.  People support my shop, I'm thankful to Putararu people that shop with me and people who stay at my motel. In return what we do is make sure our prices are low and they've got a good turnover."

But it's Kāwhia Primary school where Sid's generosity is most keenly felt, donating around 20 computers and new stationery for the kids here.

"I always blow the budget when it comes to the kids.  When it comes to kids I don't have a budget, I try to get them the best things."

It's a huge contribution considering Kāwhia School is decile 1.

"The children are really appreciative of what Sid has given, they know that Sid's given this printer, Sid's given this table and they understand the purpose of it and they utilise it fully. It's not just for playing games," says Kāwhia School principal Leanne Apiti.

Parent Hone Puke says many families don't have this level of technology at home, it's only when they come to school.

Education is so important to Sid, mainly because Sid can't read or write. For him, school brings back painful memories, and he often felt like a failure.

He's also a firm believer in technology - after all, it's helped him get to where he is today.

Sid knows just how hard it is to overcome hardship, and wants to be an example to all of us on how we can always do more for those struggling.

"Financially it does cost me but there's always room for giving out."

The Hui

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