August 18, 2021

Growing community commitment to a nourishing food future for West Auckland

Community access to fresh, affordable kai and identifying pathways for building a sustainable, nourishing food future was the focus for close to 70 people who came together from across West Auckland last month.

Held at Te Manawa Community Hub, the Future of Food event provided the opportunity for community and organisations to share experiences and ideas around strengthening food resilience in West Auckland.

“Ensuring we have a sufficient supply of nourishing kai that is accessible for all is an increasing priority for West Auckland’s foodscape and this forum has helped identify some significant opportunities for innovation in this space, moving forward,” explains Healthy Families Waitākere System Innovator, Michele Eickstaedt.

“The active engagement from the stakeholders present together with community residents wanting to have their say around ensuring community access to fresh and affordable kai is testament to the importance of growing a sustainable food future in West Auckland.”

The day included a presentation from Healthy Families Waitākere Systems Innovator, Debbie Raroa on behalf of the Kai Sovereignty Roopu (group) where she shared their journey in gathering valuable insights from local organisations and whānau to create a kai sovereignty plan – Mana Motuhake o te Kai.

A number of priorities were discussed, with a key focus being on the need to keep a strong local emphasis on neighbourhoods and suburbs, returning to a ‘village concept’ where food is a connector.

“To really deliver a difference, easy access to affordable and healthy kai needs to be happening within a small geographic locality, as close as a few neighbouring streets.  This is necessary not only for practical and logistical reasons but also for growing connections and bringing neighbours together,” explains Miriam Gabriel, Community Developer from Community Waitākere.

Other priorities identified included building a greater narrative around what the aspirational goal of a secure food future would like in West Auckland.

“This is about bringing our heritage alive; gathering kaimoana in our plentiful coastline, hunting in the ranges and harvesting locally planted crop,” adds Miriam.

The priorities echo the vision of the Mana Motuhake o te Kai plan and which focuses on the taiao (environment), tikanga (cultural practices) and tāngata (people).

The event was led by Kai West with support from an array of partners including Community Waitākere, Healthy Families Waitākere, EcoMatters, Fair Food, Flat Fish Projects, Henderson-Massey Local Board, Massey Matters, MPHS Community Trust, Waitākere Ranges Local Board and Whau Local Board.

Whau, Henderson Massey and Waitākere Ranges Local Boards provided funding to make this forum a possibility, and have also committed seed funding to develop the ideas and innovations identified at the forum.

Looking ahead, a further round of engagement is expected where participants from the Future of Food event will design and expand ideas with the support of the seed funding and Kai West members.