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LIfewise Ringa Wera chefs cooking in Merge Cafe
LIfewise Ringa Wera chefs cooking in a commercial kitchen

What is Ringa Wera?

Ringa Wera literally translates as ‘hot hands’, describing both the speed people work at and the heat from the fire and ovens.

The name was gifted to us by one of our Peer Support Workers while talking about how we could help people be better hunters and foragers in an urban environment.

'He kai kei aku ringa' - 'there is food in my hands.'

This whakataukī encompasses the ideas of resilience, empowerment, hope, and the economic self-determination of Māori – and it sums up what Ringa Wera is all about. 

It’s about people’s ability to use the skills and resources they have to create success. It’s about being responsible for the resources and capabilities one needs to grow and develop.

More than a just a cooking class

Having affordable, healthy food is increasingly challenging. Living in the inner city means that food is expensive and choices are limited. More and more people are becoming dependent on free food and food parcels, that often contain unfamiliar ingredients.

Through Ringa Wera we created a safe space for people to learn, explore, and connect.

Everyone who comes along leaves with a full belly and new friendships.

It’s not just about cooking, it’s about reclaiming a sense of belonging, finding community, and supporting each other, like a family.

Lifewise Ringa Wera Chef cooking

“All the beautiful food we've been gifted. The warm kōrero. The kai. All the cleaning up together and leaving. It's just amazing.”

Ringa Wera participant

The dinner

On Thursday, 28 September the Ringa Wera Chefs put on a private fundraising dinner at Merge Cafe. It was an opportunity for the chefs to showcase what they'd cooked over the past months through Ringa Wera, while profiling the programme to raise funds for Merge Community's increasingly important mahi.

A mix of familiar and new faces entered Merge for the sold out private function.  Chefs Roxy, Rangi, Alice, Rangi, Bubs, and Kim  eagerly waited in the café, ready to get service started. Special shout out to Peer Support Workers Mike and Kat’z for the hard work during preparation time.

The menu included a choice of a main + a dessert.

Guests were also given the option to purchase handcrafted mocktail, courtesy of Lil Pips Fruit Syrups.

For the main:

  • Seafood Chowder
  • Taniwha Burger
  • Chilli Beans
  • Meat Balls & Tomato Sauce
  • Sweetcorn Fritters w Polenta


For dessert:

  • Bread & Butter Pudding
  • Apple Sponge

During the evening guests were given the opportunity to hedge their bets and bid on unique, upcycled aprons complete with a Merge Makes patch.

They could also buy a Merge Makes goodie bag complete with the Ringa Wera Cookbook, vintage apron, Merge Makes patch, and an item from the Merge Makes pantry.

Along with everything else on the night, all profits went to Merge Community.

A very, very, special thank you to...

Of course, none of this would have been possible without:

Last, but not least – A MAMMOTH thank you to The Tindall Foundation, Foundation North,  and JR McKenzie Trust for funding Ringa Wera and empowering us to achieve great things through Merge Community. With you, anything is possible.

Lifewise Merge Community Ringa Wera Menu
Margaret from Lifewise Merge Community Ringa Wera
Lifewise Merge Community Ringa Wera Dinner
LIfewise Merge Cafe Ringa Wera Dinner
LIfewise Ringa Wera Merge Community Chefs
Lifewise staff at Merge Cafe Ringa Wera Dinner

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