12 Aug 2021

Pacific Island Revolution series starts an actual revolution

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:40 pm on 12 August 2021

The second series of the hit cooking show Pacific Island Food Revolution - in which teams from Pacific countries cook traditional dishes with local ingredients - is now streaming on TVNZ OnDemand and Māori TV. 

Chef Robert Oliver - who created the show - hopes the New Zealand government feels proud of their investment in Pacific Island Food Revolution because it's having a real impact on "making village food cool again" in Pacific countries. 

Pacific Island Food Revolution

Photo: Pacific Island Food Revolution / Facebook

"New Zealand has a very meaningful relationship with the Pacific Islands and I'm super grateful to [the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade] for supporting us thus far."

Oliver grew up in Fiji on wholesome local food, and after working on the TV cooking show My Kitchen Rules wanted to harness the power of that format to address the NCD (non-communicable disease) crisis in the Pacific.

The most common NCD is diabetes - a condition that usually stems from an unhealthy diet, Oliver tells Jesse Mulligan.

"The long tail of colonisation and globalisation has uprooted food culture to some degree but the culture is still there, the experts are still there, the knowledge is still there, so how do we make [wholesome local food] sexy for young people?"

It turns out a fun, friendly international cooking show is the answer.

As Pacific Island Food Revolution is supported by both the New Zealand and Australian governments, the show's producers have to provide evidence of the impact it is having.

They commissioned the Busara Center for Behavioural Economics to measure the show's influence in Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Samoa.

The results show Pacific Island Revolution is now watched by 83 percent of people in Tonga and 84 percent of people in Samoa, Oliver says.

"In Tonga, people who've watched the show are 262 percent more likely than those who have not to choose local healthy food. In Samoa, it's 146 percent. These are staggering numbers."

Pacific Island Food Revolution​ is now working on a joint venture with Asia Foundation to expand the show's mission and looking for further investment support, Oliver says.

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