Te Aka Whai Ora is partnering with Kimiora Trust to provide whānau and communities in the Whanganui region with training and guidance on choosing more sustainable and resilient food options.
Kimiora Trust is an organisation based in Whanganui set up in 2012 to support families who have been affected by suicide, abuse, or domestic violence. Their primary focus is on providing training and educational resources that help individuals and whānau understand how a healthier and more sustainable diet can improve mental and physical wellbeing.
Kimiora Trust founder Kiritahi Firmin, says “people are suffering from diet-related chronic diseases. One in five deaths in our rohe can be associated with a bad diet, and that is why this work is so important.”
The leading diseases associated with diet-related deaths in New Zealand are coronary heart disease, stroke, colon, and rectum cancer. Those who live with diet-related diseases are more likely to experience poorer mental, social, and educational outcomes.
“It’s not just about choosing the right kai. Our education also focuses on how to grow kai so that it is affordable, sustainable, and locally produced. This teaching is grounded in the principles of mātauranga (indigenous knowledge), kaitiakitanga (guardianship), and rangatiratanga (leadership).
“As a trained botanist and registered social worker, I see first-hand the benefits of our therapy that extends to both mental and physical wellbeing. We’re encouraging regenerative healing from trauma through the natural environment, known as ‘eco-therapy’,” she says.
To date, funding provided by Te Aka Whai Ora has helped the Trust to develop a range of online tools and resources, this includes an interactive website, online weekly podcasts, and educational videos on growing kai.
Importantly, Kiritahi says that the guidance, resources and knowledge is for everyone in the community.
“We want everyone to benefit from this mahi. Regardless of whether they are beginners or more experienced gardeners, anyone can learn and build up skills and enthusiasm and apply mātauranga which may be new to them.”
The Trust provides onsite training for schools in the Whanganui region. Training focuses on teaching children and whānau how to heal trauma through maara kai (gardening for food), eco-sourcing (propagating native plants), riparian planting (growing on river banks), and native nursery development.
Kingi Kiriona, Deputy Chief Executive – Mātauranga Māori for Te Aka Whai Ora says, “We know that mātauranga Māori, kaupapa Māori and te ao Māori approaches are a key strategy to deliver better health outcomes for our whānau and communities.”
“We’re delighted our funding is helping to provide guidance and training grounded in these approaches and also help improve the wellbeing of our communities through better food choices.”