One of the few physical features that distinguish Buddhi Wilcox is a small pigtail.  But the otherwise ordinary appearance hides a compassionate being, dedicated to helping the less well off in his community.

Buddhi, a member of the Hare Krishna faith, set up the Food For Life programme in Whangarei, feeding the poor, the homeless and children who would otherwise go hungry.  But behind the good work is a big team of supporters committed to the vision.

“It’s not just the community we feed but we meet a need for other sectors such as businesses who want to donate their products, money or services to Food For Life. There’s also a large number of people who want to volunteer their labour to help others in the community with worthy projects such as Food For Life.”

Buddhi says organisations such as the Northland Regional Council and the Whangarei District Council have also played a role in the success story of Food For Life.

“Both councils have been quite helpful [regional council provides the building rent and rates free and district council has helped with food hygiene oversight] but it’s really the relationships we have that have made the difference.”

He says that is especially true of Whangarei District Mayor Sheryl Mai.

“She has been generally supportive for what we do and it means a lot to have that. Sheryl has had more to do with our work and organisation – especially on the cultural side – than you would normally expect from a mayor.

“She has a strong sense of community.

“We’re a minority group and we rely on the support of the community – having the backing of the mayor is significant for what we do.”

Buddhi added that Sheryl’s involvement reflects a wider ‘caring’ within the community.

“Whangarei has one of the highest rate of volunteers per capita in the country – it’s a great place to live.”