I’ve just come back from a couple of days in Kaikōura, where the community held a food hui to try and get local food back on their plates. It was particularly meaningful to me because exactly four years earlier (almost to the day), I was part of a small convey who traversed the broken roads of the Hundalee Hills with a truck full of fresh food and an inflatable boat. The earthquake had completely isolated Kaikōura and they had run out of fresh food. They were spraying milk on paddocks because there was no local pasteurisation, they couldn’t process meat and there wasn’t enough fruit & vegetables grown locally to feed anyone at scale.
We were planning a pop-up Farmers Market, and we knew this would work because we’d done something similar in Mt Pleasant after the Christchurch Earthquake. We made the Kaikōura coast with our precious cargo and found a slipway which still reached the ocean, the laden inflatable met a fishing boat anchored offshore which could make it back to the peninsula, and the resulting Farmers Market was a huge success.
Four years later the Kaikōura community understand very well the importance of food resilience, but they’re still struggling to ensure it’s their local food on their plates. This is important not just because of resilience in the face of uncertainty, but also because food is the way they tell the story of their unique and beautiful part of Aotearoa. The name says it all- Kaikōura, a place to eat Crayfish. There is a huge opportunity to tell this story to travellers, whether they be domestic or international and their kai is intrinsically connected to their identity.
Allowing this community to self-determine their food access is an important part of any food story we tell about ourselves as a nation. This is what Food Sovereignty looks like for Aotearoa. The wonderful thing is, if we allow this to flourish we weave a rich, diverse and authentic food story we can present to the rest of the world, keen to buy our food over there. It’s a win win.
What does Food Sovereignty look like for your community? How would you like to express yourselves through food? What is important to find on your plates that you share with your whānau, friends and visitors?
Let us know! We’d love to hear.
Kaikōura supermarket after earthquake. | Farmers Market a few days later.