September 5, 2023

Using Mana Motuhake o te Kai to achieve kai sovereignty in West Auckland

Te Wao nui a Tiriwa (West Auckland) has a deep agricultural history that encompasses the cultures of the many people who live here. From the iwi who migrated across their tribal lands in a seasonal cycle, to the growers and farmers of today. There are stories throughout the region that reflect this rich history of mahinga kai (food gathering) and kai sovereignty.  

As we’ve moved further away from the growing and kai gathering practices that were once the norm, we’ve become reliant on national supply chains and supermarkets to get our kai. The Covid-19 lockdowns have brought attention to the fact that this way of being has resulted in limited and uncertain availability, of nutritious and affordable kai for many people and whānau. 

In 2020, the West Auckland Māori Thought Leadership collective identified kai sovereignty as a vital instrument to get more healthy kai on the table for Māori in West Auckland. “Kai sovereignty is about communities regaining control over their local food systems to ensure everyone can access enough locally sourced, nourishing kai.” explains Mike Tipene, Māori Strategic Lead for Healthy Families Waitākere. 

To support the findings from the Māori Thought Leadership collective, Healthy Families Waitākere teamed up with Hoani Waititi Marae and Community Waitākere to secure funding from the Ministry of Social Development to create a food secure communities plan.  

Over the course of a year, several hui and wānanga were held with kura, marae, community partners and organisations who support Māori in West Auckland. The insights gathered at these hui, became the fundamental building blocks that formed te Mana Motuhake o te Kai, a plan of how to take action to create kai sovereignty in West Auckland.  

The collective aim of this plan is to use mātauranga (knowledge) Māori to inform and re-establish a kai system that will benefit the whole community.  

Tipene, explains that the team is now looking to develop a toolkit to help people understand how to use te Mana Motuhake o te Kai. “Developing the plan was a big job, but it was just the first step. The next step is to make it easy for people to see where the plan fits into their own mahi, to help them achieve their outcomes”. 

The Plan 

Vision; to return to practices that have sustained whānau for generations. 

Mana Motuhake o te Kai is a living document. It will continue to evolve and adapt as opportunities arise, as it changes hands, and as the distinctive identity of kai in West Auckland becomes better understood and reclaimed. 

The plan is simple by design but has a large focus on impact. It comprises three pou (pillars) with an outcome and actions for each. The pou and outcomes are as follows: 

  • Tāngata (people): Māori in West Auckland are healthy and nourished. Sharing kai and learning about/through kai strengthens social connection and community.  
  • Taiao (environment): The unique identity of the whenua, awa, moana and ngahere of West Auckland is recognised and celebrated, and the ecosystem is thriving and full of biodiversity. Māori hold sovereignty over land and food grown in West Auckland is grown according to Te Ao Māori.  
  • Tikanga (customs): The role of kai as sacred taonga enhances mana in West Auckland. Kai-based tikanga is woven through day to day activities and the whakapapa of kai is understood.  

Click here to find the one pager of the Mana Mohuhake o te Kai plan.