News | 10 August 2021

Loving community in Linden

Delivering lunch at the Kai Kitchen in Linden’s Community Centre is, indeed,  a community affair with volunteers and businesses pitching in to provide nutritious food  and company  to the locals.

Two women sitting beside each other, Teia on the left wearing her sunglasses and an apron doing the peace sign, and Amber leaning in smiling.
Teia and Amber visit the community centre to build friendships.

Every Friday, volunteers gather to prepare a free three-course meal. Wellington City Council provides staples like milk, butter and eggs, and other businesses donate useable food. There is always plenty of fruit and vegetables, and bread from Pandora Bakery and PAK’nSAVE.

Every Thursday, food donated by Kaibosh and Kiwi Community Assistance is checked out by the Kai Kitchen leader for that week and transformed into a three-course menu.

“It can be the same ingredients but totally different food, depending on whether the leader and chef for the day is Indian, Chinese, Malaysian, Filipino, English, Māori or any other ethnic group who now call New Zealand, and specifically Tawa, their home,” says Fieza Ibrahim, Community Coordinator.

“Indian curries are particularly popular but so is a good veggie soup and fruit crumble.”

Last week, first-time leader Elsa created a menu of soup and bread, pasta with a veggie bolognaise sauce, falafel and roasted vegetables, followed by fruit salad with Madeira cake and ice cream. She was assisted by volunteers who all love being part of helping people in the community.

“I especially love seeing the helpers from IDEA Services work alongside us,” said one.

People from IDEA Services, the services arm of IHC, supporting adults of all ages and disabilities to live their own lives and be part of their local communities, come and prepare the fruit and vegetables every week. There’s always fruit salad – helping ensure diners get their five + a day.

They also help with the veritable mountain of bread that is collected from Pandora and other bakeries around Wellington, and delivered by Manjit Crewal, on behalf of Ekta. Ekta means unity, and is an organisation aiming to build resilience in communities across all religions and ethnicities – a more inclusive New Zealand.

Colin Daley volunteers at Kai Kitchen every week and has the reputation as soup king. Last week he delivered cream of vegetable.

“I used to just come along and talk to people but since lockdown I’ve been helping make the food too. Soup is always appreciated, as are my fruit crumbles.”

In the car park, the Orange Sky mobile laundry and shower service washes and dries people’s laundry, free of charge, while they have lunch. Team member Bruce says the service is, “washing, drying, showering and conversation.”

A blue sky above a wide grey building with a paved brick entranceway and garden bed on either side. There is an orange pacific-style mural around the doorway, and a turquoise and white Linden Community Centre sign under the roof.

Teia and Amber meet up with other regulars every week for a good old chat and laughter. Amber comes for friendship: “We all come from different walks of life, but all get along. It’s a great atmosphere.”

Regular Bruce says he sadly had to pull out of the male synchronised swimming team at the Olympics because of the drag of his beard, which gets the crowd laughing. He lives with his dogs and cats and visits the centre to hang out with other people; heenjoys the company and banter.

And Linden Community Centre does more than Kai Kitchen. There are weekly drama, exercise and cooking classes, free sports gear, kids holiday play programmes, free books donated by the library – and, most of all, a safe space where everyone in the community is welcomed.

Over the last two years, Fieza has done an incredible job pulling these services together and getting the community together. As the centre’s only employee, Fieza welcomes an average of 2310 people a week. She has a stellar background for the role with qualifications in Libraries, Community Centres and Information Management. She previously worked as an announcer in Malaysia for several radio stations running community reach out programmes.

Kai Kitchen and Orange Sky mobile laundry are at Linden Community Centre every Friday.  Everyone is welcome.  Lunch is served around 1pm.