Soup Kitchen vegetable garden opened in downtown Wellington


An urban vegetable garden next to the Compassion Soup Kitchen in Haining Street, Wellington, was opened and blessed on Tuesday.

The ceremony took place at 7am on a cool Wellington morning and was attended by about 100 people.

The space for te māra (the garden) was gifted to guests of the Soup Kitchen by the Sisters of Compassion.

Speakers included the mayor of Wellington Justin Lester, representatives of the Tangata Whenua, the Sisters of Compassion and those who set the garden up.

The final two speakers were representative of the whānau (guests) who gather at the soup kitchen each day for food and companionship.

Matt Petrie, a social worker at the Soup Kitchen and kaiārahi (leader) of the garden project, thanked the many people who had contributed to setting up the garden.

Te māra was given the name Tupaea in honour of the memory of Ngati Tupaea, the hapū who lived near what is now Courtenay Place before Europeans arrived in Wellington.

It is hoped Tupaea will be an oasis away from the streets, yet in central Wellington, growing kai that the Sisters, whānau, staff, volunteers and anyone from the wider community who contribute can all share.

Petrie said te māra is about giving a sense of pride.

It is a central part of He Rākau Koikoi, a programme of purposeful activities that help whānau improve their wellbeing and which allows them to look with hope to the future.

By working in the garden, whānau learn new skills, practice old skills, have fun and enjoy being with other people.

“For many people who come here, they experience poor mental health, loneliness, isolation, depression, anxiety and low mood but by working on the garden some of those feelings start being removed,” Petrie said.

“They have more control back in their lives and can face the world more positively. They start to look forward and have improved self-esteem and confidence. It’s a great outcome.”


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