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Northlanders encouraged to cultivate kai for community wellbeing

Updated: Apr 26, 2022

Nau mai haere mai Te Tai Tokerau growers! Do you have a project that addresses a kai need in your community?

Kai Ora and its partners welcome applications from communities seeking support for initiatives that lift the availability of healthy kai, and increase community resilience. Community groups, whanau trusts, social enterprises, and small businesses can apply for up to $5000 from 8 April. Funding decisions are expected to be announced in time for the prime planting season, July 2022.

Since 2015, the Kai Ora Fund has supported nearly 200 grassroots projects and community-led activities across Northland to tackle food security. Each provides great holistic and social benefits.

“With the ongoing impacts of Covid, unpredictable weather and rising costs; sustainable growing practices are key to our whanau and whenua’s wellbeing and kai sufficiency” said Daniela Johnson, who coordinates the Kai Ora Fund at Mahitahi Hauora. “From the Cape to Kaiwaka, projects are dotted all over Northland. Many are in rural communities, where it can be a challenge to find nourishing, local, affordable kai,” said Daniela.

A true collaborative approach between multiple sectors, the Kai Ora partnership comprises of Mahitahi Hauora, Northland District Health Board, Te Puni Kōkiri, Far North District Council, Whangārei District Council, Kaipara District Council, the Ministry of Social Development, Foundation North and Healthy Families Far North. Since inception the fund has gone from strength to strength each year, with new partners joining and supporting the vision – ‘He whenua taurikura, he whānau houkura - Abundant whenua, prosperous whānau’.

“It’s more than the funding; many of our projects benefit from the wider networks and connections developed once supported by Kai Ora and its dedicated partners. All recipients of funding attend a Kai Ora Workshop to network with other groups, are linked in online for knowledge sharing, and are invited to participate in capacity building events during the year,” comments Daniela.

Projects that engage multiple partners, show collaboration with hapu and iwi, promote equity, and demonstrate sustainability are prioritised. An example of this is the Northland Edible Garden Trail, with thirteen inspirational edible gardens open for the public to meet the gardeners, have a chat, look, learn and to be inspired to grow fruit and vegetables in a sustainable way. The trail featured a wide variety, from small urban gardens to rural lifestyle blocks and commercial growers, and included demonstrations and workshops. Many of the gardens are a part of the Kai Ora Network. The Northland Edible Garden Trail was funded by the Kai Ora Fund in 2021 and run as a not-for-profit event by The Far North Resilient Communities Charitable Trust.

“This project was a fantastic way to recognise some local growing pillars and their mahi, share knowledge and offer some socially distanced outdoor time and fresh produce. This is an outstanding example of what can be achieved with support from the Kai Ora fund. On a personal level, I learned heaps!” says, Sheryl Mai, Whangarei District Council Mayor.

Other projects include support for community gardens at the Tongan Church in Raumanga, Totara North, Waimamaku, Ngunguru and Kaeo, Community Composting projects, research and promotion of the Free Fish Heads App, Marae Māra Kai and projects on Māori whenua.

The closing date for applications is 1 June 2022. Applications are submitted through an online portal. Support is available to groups when submitting applications and those intending to apply are encouraged to check in well in advance. For more information or to apply, visit or contact Mahi Tahi Hauora on or (09) 438 1015.

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