In early 2016, after surveying parents and children in schools in Rotorua, Healthy Families Rotorua identified a gap in the local food system – there was clear inability for Rotorua primary-aged tamariki to access healthy and affordable kai.
A successful model in Tokoroa called Ka Pai Kai was identified as a relevant example of providing nutritious kai to children in local schools. After gaining insights and learning from Tokoroa and our local community, Ka Pai Kai Rotorua was officially launched in 2017 with the support Healthy Families Rotorua. This was an initiative that could address food insecurity among Rotorua school children.
For Ka Pai Kai Rotorua to be sustainable, a social enterprise was created with the intention that it be driven by leadership from within the community. As part of building the foundations, strong support for the governing board was necessary. Just recently, Healthy Families Rotorua supported the Ka Pai Kai Rotorua Trust board to access strategic professional development to increase their strategic leadership capability.
Mapihi Raharuhi, Manager for Healthy Families says, “community taking ownership of this kaupapa has been fantastic. Knowing that tamariki here in Rotorua now have access to better kai, and that in turn their schools are becoming health promoting environments lets us know that this has been a good thing”
Principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Hurungaterangi Oriana Lemon commented that Ka Pai Kai Rotorua has helped to normalise healthier eating. “Tamariki have enjoyed the healthier option, even the vegetables and we have noticed that nothing is going to waste” she says.
Volunteers are commonly made up of mothers and grandmothers who give their time as they want to see their tamariki eating nutritious kai and learning good food habits.
Feedback from one parent is that their tamariki look forward to Ka Pai Kai days at school, and they are happy knowing that the children are getting nutrious kai which doesn’t go to waste.
Ka Pai Kai Rotorua have also provides an opportunity to students from the NZMA Rotorua Hospitality school. This has provided an opportunity for students to get hands on experience in a kitchen to complete practical elements that go towards the accreditation of their qualifications.
“We get the opportunity of gaining practical experience, whilst also contributing to a meaningful kaupapa that helps children, some of which are our whanau” says Grace Walker, a hospitality student.
The work of Ka Pai Kai Rotorua now speaks for itself, a social enterprise that has laid a challenge down for the rest of Aotearoa to work collectively to increase healthier environments where our communities live, learn, work and play.