A South Auckland social enterprise is turning food which would otherwise be thrown away into cafe-quality meals in an effort to battle hunger in Aotearoa.
The Papatoetoe Food Hub was established four years ago to rescue wasted produce by repurposing it into affordable meals.
The enterprise was set up by The Southern Initiative and Auckland Council's Eke Panuku Development who gave the space for the Hub to thrive.
Director Raju Ramakrishna said there is so much food waste in Aotearoa and yet so many people are going hungry.
"The food system we have is not working for us, it's absolutely not working."
Ramakrishna said people in New Zealand need accessible and affordable food, especially in low socioeconomic areas like South Auckland.
"We know there is such great access to bad food but such bad access to good food all around."
Papatoetoe Food Hub sources the food from the local New World which is across the parking lot, as well as donations of produce from farmers and food outlets that have no use for it.
The organisation has a strong belief in repurposing everything it gets. A food truck donated by fast food outlet The White Lady is now used as a kitchen and they have a hangi pit made from reclaimed wood.
But Ramakrishna said their main focus is education about food waste and sustainability.
"We can't treat our whenua (land) this way, we have to look after it because the whenua is the one that feeds us so how do we care for it? How do we take care of waste," Ramakrishna said.
The organisation offers free composting workshops for South Auckland schools and the wider community, as well as teaching kids how to grow their own food.
Within the last two years, it has churned out 10 tonnes of compost through wasted food, which they've then put back into the land to regenerate their soil, regrow plants and grow food again.
"It's an amazing circular economy we've managed to create within this space," Ramakrishna said.
The organisation also supports the revitalization of indigenous kai (food) systems by teaching students how to pack a traditional hangi.
The mahi (work) they do for the community, however, sparks the need for a bigger conversation, Hub lead systems innovator Julio Bin said.
"We're producing food to feed 40 million people but we're only [a population of] five, so we're exporting that which is great, it brings revenue to the country but if we are producing all that amount of food, why are people going hungry?" Bin said.