June 18, 2021

Kai Sovereignty in Waitākere

Having nourishing, healthy food throughout our lifetime is critical to being healthy and well. Yet for many communities across Waitākere, accessing affordable and healthy food can be difficult or out of reach entirely.

In West Auckland, a roopu (group) of organisations and community members is currently exploring what food sovereignty means for West Auckland Māori and how Māori can be self-sufficient and in control of the kai which nourishes us as a whānau and community. With funding from the Ministry of Social Development’s Food Secure Communities grant, the roopu is developing a food secure communities plan underpinned with a Te Ao Māori lens.

Healthy Families Waitākere Systems Innovator, Debbie Raroa (Ngati Porou), explains.

“For Māori, health and wellbeing centres on our connection to the whenua. When we interact with Māori food systems, we are not only getting the benefit of that immediate interaction; we are also getting those connected benefits of eating food that’s being produced within a kaupapa Māori context.”

Ultimately, the roopu is working towards creating a West Auckland centric food secure communities plan for Māori whānau. The partnership began with three organisations embedded in community; Healthy Families Waitākere, Community Waitākere and Hoani Waititi Marae. The kaupapa has expanded across West Auckland, with whānau and community sharing their experiences and perspectives on the local food system, alongside developing a shared vision of what kai sovereignty would mean for the region. Debbie continues,

“Food sovereignty movements emphasise that, unlike food security, food sovereignty is about placing the control of food back into the local communities. Our collective aim with this initiative is to re-establish a food system that supports Māori whānau and communities.”

The roopu is currently synthesising the information gathered and developing an illustrative report to guide the kaupapa’s next steps.

Alongside Healthy Families Waitākere, Community Waitākere and Hoani Waititi Marae, members of the roopu include: kaimahi (staff) from Toi Tangata, Ngāti Whātua, Te Whānau o Waipareira, Te Atatū Marae, Hoani Waititi Marae, Te Puni Kokiri, Auckland Council, Kai West and more.