July 8, 2020, 5:52 p.m.
Mal Hekeua-Hack and Kataraina Matehaere Rhind from Ngāti Kahu continue to prioritise the kaupapa of food security for whānau in the haukāinga areas of the Karikari Peninsular. Their community leadership on this issue was initially inspired when they both became aware of the Covid-19 lockdown food security concerns through Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Kahu.
Mal Hekeua-Hack of Te Whānau Moana me Te Rorohuri said, “We were just sitting through one of the Rūnanga Zui (online meeting) and heard that our cousins needed extra help with kai deliveries”.
The iwi of Ngāti Kahu acted quickly to mitigate any immediate rise in food insecurity for the haukāinga during the COVID-19 pandemic and wanted to ensure whānau were supplied in nutritious and essential foods. Kete āwhina (care packages) were packed and delivered by Mal Hekeua-Hack, Kataraina Matehaere Rhind and Te Mahara Tamehana.
Kataraina Matehaere Rhind of Te Whānau Moana me Te Rorohuri said, “before we were sent a little angel (to help) we were broken each night, and we weren’t finishing until 3 am in the morning and then back on the road at 7 am, and then we where on the road, and then we were back again. But you just make it work. We’ve always worked well together, me and my cousin (Mal Hekeua-Hack), and we will continue to work well together.”
The communities of the Karikari Peninsular are roughly 30 minutes drive from the service town of Kaitaia. One of the concerns of whānau in the haukāinga areas surrounding Kaitaia during the lockdown was access to food and other essentials.
Moving forward the full impact of the pandemic on food security is yet to be fully understood. However, an economic downturn will likely mean risks to food security for whanāu, hapū and iwi members.
As the coronavirus crisis unfolds around the world, and the economic predictions in Aotearoa become better understood, many people could lose their jobs. It’s highly possible that disruptions in domestic food supply chains, food production, and the loss of incomes for whānau will start to create regional economic tensions.
Risks to food security are not largely driven by food shortage but disruptions like the supply of agricultural products such as fertilizers, seeds or labour shortages have the ability to diminish next season’s crop.
Kataraina and Mal represent community leadership that is active across the 5 iwi of Te Hiku o Te Ika, ensuring that whānau had the resources that they require to survive lockdown and they both continue to prioritise food security for whānau, even after lockdown.
Community-led solutions like kai deliveries elevate the fact that communities have the wisdom, knowledge, strengths, and determination to take charge of their own survival.