COMMUNITY PANTRY: The Mildura community pantry at the Williams’ house on Avocado Street. Hanah Williams with her diligent volunteers Sega, Anne-Elizabeth, and Ellis. Photo: Esther MacIntyre
















The Māori tradition of ‘pātaka’ has found a new home in Mildura, feeding families in need.

Pātaka loosely translates to ‘community pantry’, and it’s a movement that has gained traction in Melbourne during lockdown.

Mildura couple Tamatoa and Hanah Williams were inspired to create a pātaka pantry in their own front yard, using just an old fridge.

“It was mainly born out of this COVID time,” Tama said.

“And mainly for families that are doing it tough. Because as we know, a lot of people have lost their jobs.

“We’ve always helped out here and there in the community, but we felt we needed to do more, especially in the current climate,” he said.

The Williams family started with an old fridge, a hand-made sign, and a couple of trips to the supermarket.

But the need was so great, they soon realised they would need help from their community.

“We went and did a few loads of shopping, but we couldn’t keep up and then almost straight away the Sunraysia community just started pouring in with gifts,” Tama said.

“We shared it on Facebook so we could get more people to come around,” Hanah said.

The video of their community pantry has now reached more than 40 thousand people.

One of the viewers commented “You’re game doing this in Mildura”, but Tama and Hanah aren’t concerned about people taking advantage.

“Ah, you’re always gonna have those people in anything you do in life, but you can’t let them stop you from doing good,” Tama said.

“Because if we all stop doing good, then more of the ugly stuff grows.

“We’re not worried. We’ve got my wife, and the guard dog out the back there,” Tama laughed.

The pantry has been getting a lot of use, particularly by families who are doing it tough.

A sign out the front reads ‘Take what you need, without greed’.

“The first day we opened we had a lady, a single mother, come in with her little one,” Hanah said.

“And she only took what she needed. She didn’t want any more than that.

“And that’s what we’re asking for people to do. Because it’s a community thing.”

Tama said the story is really about Sunraysia turning up to support its community.















“I think we’re averaging something like 15 people a day coming in and dropping off,” he said.

“And most of them don’t want to be known,” Hanah said.

“They just want to give, they don’t want to be praised for what they’ve done.

“So for us, that’s the main thing, all we’ve done was just put a fridge out and start it,” she said.