Kindness and kebabs: Bangash feeds those in need
10 February 2023
Zuhaib Abbas Bangash arrived in New Zealand from Pakistan in 2013 with little more than a handful of clothes and a dream to create a safer life for his children.
Thanks to the support and kindness he experienced over the years, Bangash was able to build a thriving life in Aotearoa New Zealand. Now he pays it forward – in free kebabs!
Every Sunday, Bangash feeds hundreds of people in need from two of his busy kebab shops in Glen Eden and Glenfield.
Bangash’s passion for giving back is fuelled in part by his is own experience of receiving help when he needed it most.
“My wife died unexpectedly in 2012. I was in Pakistan at that time and my work in human rights put me at risk of the Taliban. Suddenly here I am, a widower with five kids and I needed to build a different life,” said Bangash.
“After few days of my first arrival in Aotearoa, I encountered peace and felt that New Zealand is a safe place to live. So I decided to take a chance to start and build a better life and bring my kids when I could.”
Bangash’s early days were not easy. Shortly after arriving in New Zealand, he experienced homelessness and spent a week sleeping in a park in Manukau.
“I used to spend the whole day in the mall and library to keep myself warm and stay away from the rain,” Bangash said.
Recognising Bangash needed help, a man who owned a kebab shop within the mall gave him food each day – and ultimately, a job working at the kebab shop himself.
“His kindness helped me so much. It is funny because these days it is me giving out free food. I am grateful because I got the support when I needed it and now I am in a position to be able to help others.”
In 2016, a four-bedroom Kāinga Ora home became available for Bangash and his children, who he could finally bring over from Pakistan.
“I felt very lucky when I received the call letting me know I had a house to live in. I felt secure, safe and that I had some real stability.
From his Kāinga Ora home, with his children by his side, Bangash was able to put down roots and establish a business of his own.
“I learned all about the kebab business by working in the shop in Manukau and started to save money to buy my own business,” said Bangash.
“A few months after I moved into our Kāinga Ora home I started a house painting company. Then in 2017 I found a pizza shop for sale in Glen Eden which I was able to purchase and turn into a kebab shop – I named it ‘Glen Eden Kebab’ to represent the place I call home.”
Bangash was eventually able to purchase a home, and two more kebab shops – one in Glenfield and another in Otahuhu.
Since then, Bangash has set about doing all he can to give back to the community – and one of the main ways he does this is by providing free meals to those who need them each Sunday.
Bangash estimates that he provides meals to around 200 people every week across his two stores, via his registered charity called Tree of Humanity for All (TOHFA), an organisation to help support people experiencing deprivation. As well as providing meals to people in need, TOHFA also provided free hand sanitiser during the earlier period of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While Bangash acknowledges it takes a lot of time, cost and effort to provide free food to so many people, he has no plans to stop.
“I say I have got everything now – I have my house, the business is good going, everything is good… now I should continue to help people in need,” Bangash says.
“Thank you Kāinga Ora for supporting me in a needy time. That little support took me to the sky and now I am able to support people in need.”
Page updated: 10 February 2023