Members of New Zealand’s largest Sikh temple distributed 50,000 food parcels to more than over 100,000 people during the COVID-19 restrictions with the help of local police.
Volunteers from the Gurudwara Sri Kalgidhar Sahib in Takanini are used to looking after people, often feeding a couple of thousand over a single weekend.
Arranging, packing and distributing food parcels to the vulnerable during the pandemic restrictions presented a different challenge and required a considered approach.
Counties Manukau Māori Pacific and Ethnic Services and general duties staff worked proactively with temple management to help coordinate deliveries to vulnerable families across Tāmaki Makaurau.
On receiving necessary approval to distribute food parcels from the temple grounds, management executed their plan with assistance from temple volunteers.
The team were overwhelmed with donations from food producers and suppliers. Temple volunteers then worked tirelessly to package and distribute those supplies.
The packages included fresh fruit and vegetables, rice, bread and milk. Thousands of people came in vehicles to the Takanini Gurudwara premises, where volunteers put the bags in boots without the need for close contact with anyone.
With social distancing of the utmost importance at the time, Police staff from across Counties Manukau worked to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
“A number of the temple volunteers work as local drivers so they, along with others, were able to help with contactless delivery for those who were unable to pick up the parcels,” says Sergeant Gurpreet Arora.
“The feedback from the community was overwhelming. We had people in tears who were just so grateful to have some food to feed their whānau.”
Police in Counties Manukau have had a working relationship with the temple over the past 12 years. This includes all new Police graduates visiting the temple during their induction into the district.
“This is a great opportunity for our new staff to get an idea of how the temple works and some understanding of their religious practices,” says Constable Satvir Sen.
“We look forward to continuing our amazing relationship with the temple and supporting the wonderful work they do in our communities”.
Counties Manukau South Area Commander Inspector Dave Glossop is extremely proud of the work that has gone on alongside the temple.
“While being aware of the exceptional efforts of the community in this time of need, the scale and coordination of the operation was both impressive and humbling,” says Dave.