These are the people that gathered at Northland Inc’s Orchard on Saturday 27 May for the inaugural meeting of the Northland Food Policy Network. Saba Issa skilfully facilitated the meeting first leading us through an exploration of why we were there. Five main motives emerged:
- Supporting community based food systems projects, facilitated at the local level.
- Supporting local growers and farmers ensuring the succession and growth of food production here.
- Educating and communicating around food awareness.
- Helping to create policy that supports sustainable food systems and fighting policy that doesn’t, from International down to whanau level.
- Building a local network that exemplifies collaborative leadership, great engagement, communication and networking, and unity of purpose.
We identified three policy areas to focus on, each led by sub-groups.
One group will seek questions from the network to pose to all general election candidates and disseminate the results to help voters identify the candidates who support sustainable food systems.
Sugar is the focus of a second group, who will work with health agencies and other Northland institutions to reduce the availability of sugar.
The third group will focus on supporting food producers with their first priority dealing with the advent of food safety plans to ensure that they don’t place too much burden on smaller producers.
He Kai Ora Tonu
He Kai Ora Tonu is the Māori name for the network given by Dr Benjamin Pittman. A rough translation is, vital, living, growing, healthy food in perpetuity. Ora means at once living, life, health with an inference of sustainability.
The meeting was characterised by a strong sense of shared purpose and the optimism for positive change.