31 Aug 2021

'Uncertain times' lead to kai network in Auckland

7:53 pm on 31 August 2021

A new Māori food network aiming to support whānau during the extended lockdown, has been set up by Māori leaders across Tāmaki Makaurau.

Food donations in box. Food parcel.

There has been increasing demand for food help amongst whānau who have lost wages, the chair of Te Puea Memorial Marae Hurimoana Denis said. Photo: 123RF

'Motuhake' will provide access to kai and kai security for the 200,000 whānau in the community the Māori leaders serve.

Taumata Kōrero, which is a group made up of Māori providers, set up the network in 2020 and has lobbied the government for further support.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Whai Maia chief executive Rangimarie Hunia, who has been at the forefront of the initiative, said the Māori Food Network was a crisis response to the mounting pressures of the lockdown.

She said there is an immediate need escalating across Māori communities.

"Providing kai security and access to kai for Māori is an absolute priority of Taumata Kōrero. This network was created as an immediate response to an immediate need that is escalating at a rapid rate across Māori communities.

"Over the past six months, everyone has had an active involvement in developing solutions to support their communities against Covid-19 - the majority of our members are involved in Covid-19 testing of scale, vaccinations at scale, delivery of primary care and continue to be on the frontline providing support through food, health, housing and other areas that are critical for Māori wellbeing," she said.

The kai network comes after visible shortages and closures have occurred among supermarket chains, leaving many whānau without the essentials or access to more food.

Chair of Te Puea Memorial Marae in Māngere Hurimoana Denis said Taumata Kōrero has seen increasing demand amongst whānau who have lost their wages and those who are whakamā or anxious to come forward.

He said this demand will continue after the lockdown, so the group is getting down to business and providing resources across the region including vaccinations, testing stations and food support.

"As of today we spent $500,000 on food vouchers, roughly around 5000 vouchers, we've also done some bulk buying - 250,000 towards bulk buying for essential goods because the current network that was there was more about what you've got rather than what you needed.

"We have just got on with it. Vaccines, testing, kai, pūtea, advocacy where and when it's needed. No frills. We are an executive level Māori decision-making forum that gets things done," he said.

All the Māori leaders involved in the kai network have rallied their resources over the past three weeks and worked together.

These included Māori primary health providers, Whānau Ora providers, urban Māori authorities and Māori housing providers.

The initiative said they will rely on the "goodwill, passion and commitment of a dedicated workforce" to see the food network and further support rolled out to those in need.

The Taumata Kōrero group hopes to continue supporting Māori as well as Pasifika whānau for a further seven weeks through the Kai network and with kai sovereignty.

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