Former New Zealander of the Year medallist being evicted

Debbie Munroe, former medallist for Local of the Year in the New Zealander of the Year awards. Photo / Te Ao Māori News

A South Auckland food bank and drop-in centre in Manurewa is looking for a new home.

Waka of Caring has been distributing up to 200 food parcels day to those facing hardship. But it’s being evicted from the centre where it operated.

The centre is run by former medallist for Local of the Year in the New Zealander of the Year awards, Debbie Munroe a.k.a Whāea Debs.

According to the landlord’s eviction notice, Whāea Debs must vacate the premises due to the dangerous behaviour of some customers who visit the store and issues that happened in 2020, by June 16.


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She says there are always issues in an area with social deprivation and while people who visit her have at times been hard to control, they aren’t always associated with her centre.

Refuge for deprived

“I do not control people, I cannot control people, so we got the blame.”

Munroe, along with a team of volunteers, is often the last line of defence in an area with high unemployment and the place has come to be a refuge for those living at the bottom of society.

“We deal with 500 people around this area, not just with food, but with domestic violence. Men and women come here when they need time out, when they need to calm down.”


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So Munroe and her Waka of Caring initiative have begun investigating suitable sites but to no avail.

“We found a perfect place down Māhia Rd, two levels, great big storeroom on the bottom, great big room on the top, $80,000. We don’t have $80,000.”

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