In an effort to understand the kai experiences of our community, Healthy Families Rotorua conducted a survey among Rotorua residents.
Findings reveal the challenges the local community faces regarding food accessibility, affordability, and the emotions that come with these experiences.
Lead systems innovator, Pirihira Whata, says kai shopping has transformed from a simple household chore to a significant point of economic and emotional stress for many in Rotorua.
“The rising costs of food, especially healthy options, are impacting family budgets, dietary choices, and overall well-being. However, there was also a strong sense of community resilience and a desire for positive change,” says Pirihira.
She says while the cost of food remains a primary obstacle for many Rotorua households when accessing their preferred kai, there is also a strong sense of community awareness.
“People recognise the broader challenges faced by others and the empathy provided by the survey responders was quite evident,” she says.
In Rotorua, the ability to buy enough kai for households is a reality for some, but this often necessitates financial strategies, compromises in food quality, or reliance on alternative food sources. The high cost of food, in conjunction with other financial pressures, continues to be a pressing concern, prompting the development of adaptive strategies and community support networks.
“There’s a noticeable gap between knowledge and practice in food cultivation, with many possessing the know-how but being hindered by factors such as limited space, living conditions, and time constraints. This presents an opportunity for community-based educational initiatives and support systems to foster gardening and food cultivation skills,” says Pirihira.
The survey also revealed that over the past five years the shifting economic landscape, particularly the escalating cost of food, has exerted a profound influence on the kai habits of Rotorua households.
“While there’s a genuine desire for healthy and nutritious options, the challenges in accessing such foods due to budget constraints have prompted a variety of adaptive strategies, from home gardening to meticulous meal planning. These adaptations highlight the broader issues surrounding food affordability and accessibility within the community.
“Overall, our community seeks a combination of education, infrastructure improvements, and governmental support to make healthy and sustainable kai options more accessible and affordable. These aspirations extend to self-sustainability education, financial relief, efficient food waste management, and broader community outreach to ensure that whānau can readily access nutritious kai,” says Pirihira.
Survey respondents’ names went into a draw to win one of five $50 grocery vouchers. All winners have been notified.
Rotorua’s eastern suburbs recently became the focal point for a transformative environmental initiative as part of the Waitawa Restoration Project. Twenty-five volunteers spent over five