We began our journey in July 2016 with 68 backyard gardens placed at the backyards of whanau/families and kindergartens across Rotorua in the space of one week. It was a demonstration of how a community can galvanize itself and engage a group of passionate volunteers.
We began as the Rotorua Local Food Network using a multi-pronged approach to address food security and food systems, a key component of which is focusing on traditional Maori food crops namely kumara and riwai (Maori potato)
The aim of the network was to make healthy, locally grown food affordable and accessible for our whole community, and to support sustainable, local food business & farming to thrive.
We are passionate about food. Good healthy, nutritional food that is. Why? Because our food chain is broken. The quality of our food, is seriously compromised with countless fast food outlets, processed food and food wrapped in plastic.
“Many of us today are disconnected from our food – we eat out of supermarkets and cafes and put our trust in these business to provide us with good food. Many common food production methods in use today are not sustainable long term, and the food choices we make every day can help deliver the change needed”.
Nutritionist and Kai Rotorua founder
Volunteers improving the food system through indigenous kai and community participation.
For the last 30 years, Rotorua has produced meat and dairy but little else in terms of food, with the exception of one local orchard. Food insecurity affects a large proportion of our population, with nearly a third reporting that they go without fruit and vegetables in order to pay their bills. Māori are disproportionately affected by food insecurity; many have lost their connection with Papatūānuku and have grown up without the traditional knowledge around how to grow their own kai.
Kai Rotorua is a non-profit, volunteer organisation made up of over 130 individuals and others. It is using a multi-pronged approach to address food security including:
Te Rangikaheke Kiripatea
Ian McBride, Sabine Willemsen, Tania Te Whenua, Fisher Wang, Harina Rupapera
Ben Sandford, Legal. Sandford & Partners, Rotorua
Dr Hugh Jellie, Director. ATA Regenerative
Jade Kameta, Healthy Families, Rotorua
Carli Ebbett, DELOITTE
Cerasela Stancu, Sustainability Director, EnviroStrat Ltd
Stephen Rowe, BNZ Partners, Rotorua