The Naenae Market has been running on Friday nights, from 4-7pm since August. Focusing on healthy kai, the market has brought new life and vibrancy to the town centre in Hillary Court. Fresh produce and healthy kai from food trucks and stalls combine with music and activities for kids to create a festive atmosphere. A local resident said, “[It is] nice seeing lots of people walking about enjoying our little centre”.
The central idea was to create a healthy, vibrant, sustainable and supportive environment where the Naenae community could connect and buy healthy kai. Another resident said her favourite thing about the market was, “Steamed dumplings and just seeing everyone there enjoying themselves. [It’s] what Naenae needs”. The market is not only smokefree, but also plastic bag free; people bring their own paper or cloth bags to take home goods.
Naenae lost its supermarket a few years ago and since then residents have had limited access to fresh fruit and veges and other healthy kai. There are a disproportionate number of fast food outlets in the neighbourhood. Market stall owners are supported with guidelines so they can make sure their kai is healthier than traditional offerings. Everything sold is prepared in ways that minimise sugar, fat and salt. Water is promoted as the drink of choice.
Being able to buy food locally has many benefits such as: promoting mental and physical wellbeing through walking and cycling to market, strengthening community connectedness, creating less carbon emissions from cars, making our streets safer with more people around and building up the local economy. Some retailers have been staying open later on market nights, with one reporting that his shop has been busier on Fridays.
Some of our Lower Hutt communities lack access to healthy kai options. Local markets are a great way to provide regular access to good food. Wainuiomata is another town centre that has been inspired to set up their own market in the future.