Inspirational Kai Ora Fund wins Inclusive Growth Award
The Kai Ora Fund – an initiative supporting projects that enable people to grow and eat nutritious, sustainably-grown local food in Northland – has been rewarded with the Commendation for Inclusive Growth at the Economic Development New Zealand 2019 Best Practice Awards.
"The Kai Ora initiative has been recognised for its inclusive approach to the provision of sustainable, fresh and healthy food-produce to those communities within Northland that are suffering from higher deprivation,” said Pam Ford, chair of Economic Development New Zealand (EDNZ), at the gala awards dinner in Blenheim over the weekend.
“The initiative has been community-led and driven – a prerequisite for good practice inclusive growth. The high level of community collaboration forged as a result of the initiative, and its focus on sustainability, impressed members of the awards panel who wished to showcase it as an exemplar of its kind.”
The fund is a flourishing partnership between Te Tai Tokerau Primary Health Organisation, Manaia Health PHO (now collectively Mahitahi Hauora), the Far North District Council, Whangārei District Council, Kaipara District Council, Te Puni Kōkiri, Northland District Health Board, and Northland Inc, the regional economic development agency.
The partnership supports projects that increase access for Northland communities to an affordable, safe food supply for current and future generations. By empowering communities to take action to work towards greater food security, the fund is also enabling people to improve and increase control over their health.
“The beauty of the Kai Ora Fund is that the dynamics of it are boundless,” said Joseph Stuart, General Manager, Business Innovation and Growth at Northland Inc, one of the driving forces behind the initiative.
“It is a great example of how, on one hand, a partnership like this supports and benefits a community and helps to reframe it; on the other, it demonstrates just what a community can achieve by working together and looking forward with optimism. The initiative succeeds so well because it brings together both sides of the fence.”
Since its inception in 2015, 92 projects have been supported through the fund. This year 37 new projects have been funded, with 33 projects led by Māori communities and whānau, resulting in an investment of just under $80,000 this year in hapori Māori.
Tui Marsh, Regional Manager Te Puni Kōkiri, has been delighted by the quality and progress of this year’s applications. “It’s so exciting to see the aspirations and energy in the community around growing food,” she said. “It is a privilege to work with groups who want to make a difference for their wider whānau and community. Many of these projects will have a lasting impact on whānau around Tai Tokerau.”
The Kai Ora Fund identifies and embraces seven key priorities: a focus on projects that increase the availability of healthy food; the growth of economic prosperity in Northland; resilience in times of emergency or vulnerability; connecting people who are passionate about sustainable local food; having a community-led approach; the ability to try new ideas; and the improvement and wellbeing of groups and communities that are most vulnerable.
Stuart added: “The fund is rebuilding strength in local communities and encouraging as many people as possible to contribute to and to benefit from growth. Through this, we have identified and supported many leaders in our local communities who are passionate about food, sustainability and health.
“The most exciting thing about the project is that by identifying, connecting and supporting those leaders, we are creating something precious – something that has so much potential for future growth and synergy. Already we are starting to see great things happen.”"