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Mobilising Healthy Change With Bespoke Solutions in Early Learning Settings

Healthy Families Whanganui Rangitīkei Ruapehu has an intentional position on Kai and Wai as key levers for systems change.


With a focus on the early years (0-5yrs) settings where our tamariki mokopuna live, learn and play, the local movement in this space is truly a settings-based, community-led approach, driven by several proactive kōhanga and supported by Healthy Families Whanganui Rangitīkei Ruapehu.

This local movement began to emerge in late 2016 and continues to gain momentum with almost half our region’s Te Kōhanga Reo activated somewhere in this approach. 

  • 14 Te Kōhanga Reo and ECE accessed TPK funding and created (or expanded) on-site Maara kai

  • Two Kōhanga adopted water only policy

  • 14 Kaiako from five Kōhanga and one ECE qualified in Food Safety Unit Standard through Ruapehu REAP and gained healthy kai learnings from Heart Foundation.  Of these five Kōhanga; three have implemented new healthy food policies; one has formally adopted Water Only and all others are practicing water only.

  • 180 fruit trees donated by the Heritage Food Crops Research Trust predominantly distributed to live and learn settings including five Kōhanga and five Marae

Now, with a national collective movement emerging around Māori and indigenous systems as ōranga solutions, Healthy Families Whanganui Rangitīkei Ruapehu is exploring māramataka in the local contemporary context.

Linking the healthy kai learnings with māramataka practice in relation to maara kai, facilitates the reclamation of traditional growing systems to pass on to future generations.

This approach is about sharing intergenerational knowledge to create sustainable healthy change right across the prevention system, starting with whānau of the early learning setting.

Insights from the 2017 case study of the Kōhanga Reo and ECE cluster involved in the early phases of this approach became the platform for scoping the Kai system from an inside out approach.

Building on the knowledge and social movement surrounding Maramataka Māori and Mātauranga Māori systems, Healthy FamiliesWhanganui Rangitīkei Ruapehu is looking to bring together local Māori leadership and knowledge holders, together with Kōhanga whānau and key systems stakeholders to co-design the next steps of this approach.

Healthy Families Whanganui Rangitīkei Ruapehu aims to bring about systems-change through an indigenous approach to prevention.

If we, as a community, continue to mobilise around the accessibility of nourishing kai for our tamariki mokopuna and champion the narrative of traditional health and holistic well-being practices, then contemporary and innovative solutions for creating healthy change across the prevention system will continue to emerge. 

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