Zealan Simpkins operations manager at Ngati Koata presents whanau with venison packs
September 2022

Mahinga kai supporting our hauora

For most of us as Māori, nothing gets us excited like mahinga kai. During COVID-19, iwi around the motu turned to what we know works best to lift the spirits of our whānau, mahinga kai.

Since June, Ngāti Koata have been supplying whānau with wild venison through a special arrangement they have with Nelson City Council to cull deer in their ngāhere. So far, Ngāti Koata hunters have provided venison to over 300 whānau. In addition to keeping whānau happy and fed, this has also helped with increasing costs of living.

Through the heights of the pandemic, many whānau were mokemoke about being restricted from gathering mahinga kai. Being disconnected from our customary rights to harvest is a common kōrero we have heard from tītī harvesters in Murihiku to whitebaiters on Te Tai Poutini, and hunters in Te Tai Tokerau.

So, it was heartening to hear about Te Puna Hauora Ki Tauranga Moana Trust delivering tītī to kaumātua through the pandemic. Cindy Mokomoko, manager, said her rōpu delivered kete of traditional kai to kaumātua and it gave them a huge lift.

“If we can support each other by making sure our whānau are eating well and getting the nutrition and support they need, then we are all better off,” said Cindy.

Brittani Beavis, dietitian at Te Piki Oranga in Nelson, agrees that healthy kai is the way to go for building resilience against COVID-19.

“We hear a lot about all the supplements available to fight bugs, such as vitamins B, D, C, zinc and selenium, which can at times be necessary, particularly in the cold and flu season. However, the best way to get these nutrients is by eating balanced meals full of natural minimally processed kai, because you get all the nutrients you need to keep healthy and boost your immune system,” said Brittani.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot to get the vitamins and minerals you need. We can get Vitamin C eating through fruits like apples, kiwifruit and oranges. Even the old marae parakuihi classic, putting some tinned fruit salad on your cornflakes, will do the job.

As well as good kai, it is also important to emulate the Ngāti Koata hunters and get outside into the sunshine for the vitamin D. Just make sure you’re careful not to get sunburnt.

Our emotional wellbeing can also be supported by making sure we stay hydrated during the day and get a good night's sleep. Having a puku full of good kai helps with that.

Have you caught up with our recent Boil up kōrero videos? In these videos, TikTok influencer and funny fulla James Pairama Wright talks with hauora experts from across the motu over bowls of delicious boil up!

Read more about the Boil up kōrero videos

Photo caption: Zealan Simpkins, operations manager at Ngāti Koata presents whānau with venison packs.