ka pai kai

A new cer­ti­fi­ca­tion la­bel aims to be­come a mar­ket force for Maori or­ganic food pro­duc­ers.

Element - - Artisan -

Are­cently launched or­ganic food la­belling sys­tem pro­motes Maori knowl­edge and val­ues, in­clud­ing a healthy earth and healthy con­sumers. Called Hua Parakore, mean­ing pure prod­uct, the la­bel is an ini­tia­tive of Te Waka Kai Ora, the National Maori Or­gan­ics Au­thor­ity. Ohaeawai res­i­dent Geneva Hil­dreth spent many years grow­ing or­ganic pro­duce on her fam­ily’s small farm and sell­ing it at lo­cal mar­kets.

As chair of Taitok­erau Or­ganic Pro­duc­ers (TOPIS) and an ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber of Te Waka Kai Ora, Geneva was in­volved in cre­at­ing the Hua Parakore ver­i­fi­ca­tion sys­tem. “For me Hua Parakore is about pro­duc­ing healthy kai that’s go­ing to not only look af­ter Pa­p­at­u­anuku and the environment but also pro­duce healthy mokop­una.”

She has a vi­sion to see the Hua Parakore tohu (la­bel) on the front gates of all Maori food pro­duc­ers. “So that it be­comes recog­nised and ev­ery­one knows what it is,” she says. “The other vi­sion is ac­knowl­edg­ing it as an in­dige­nous model, so we’re work­ing with other in­dige­nous peo­ples to sup­port them to achieve their tino ran­gati­ratanga (self-de­ter­mi­na­tion and con­trol) en­deav­ors also.”

Though re­tire­ment re­cently led Geneva and her part­ner Ray­mond to down­size their food pro­duc­tion she says the en­deav­our achieved its aim. “Our dream was to bring our kids back to the land so they don’t take their food for granted.”

Te Waka Kai Ora re­searcher Monique Bad­ham (Ngati Whatua) says the back­yard used to be the main source of food for Maori com­mu­ni­ties. “Hua Parakore is about recre­at­ing our ka­p­ata kai (food cup­board) us­ing an­ces­tral knowl­edge (matau­ranga) and val­ues, while also har­ness­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties and knowl­edge of to­day.

“The kau­papa of Hua Parakore is about en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to cre­ate their own eco­nomic liveli­hoods – to cul­ti­vate sup­port within and be­tween com­mu­ni­ties so that they can have true tino ran­gati­ratanga of their lives through their food.”

Bio­farm own­ers Cathy and Jamie Tait-jamieson have been pro­duc­ing cer­ti­fied or­ganic yo­ghurt and milk since 1987 and were the first re­cip­i­ents of the Hua Parakore la­bel. Their farm on the banks of the Manawatu River has been in Jamie’s fam­ily for four gen­er­a­tions and Cathy says the busi­ness is still strongly ori­ented around fam­ily.

“There are a lot of sto­ries that are handed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion and it’s these sto­ries that build the whole kau­papa or rea­son be­hind what we do.”

Although Bio­farm is al­ready cer­ti­fied or­ganic by Asure­qual­ity Cathy says the Hua Parakore la­bel goes a step fur­ther to ac­knowl­edge the story be­hind the prod­uct.

“It’s some­thing just a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent; it en­ables con­sumers to have a con­nec­tion through the prod­uct to the peo­ple on the land who are cre­at­ing it.

“There is a korowai, or cloak that sur­rounds that ver­i­fi­ca­tion and that ac­knowl­edges the value of the story be­hind the way we farm and we pro­duce.

Cathy, who is Ngati Tuko­rehe, says whaka­papa, or lineage is an im­por­tant as­pect of the busi­ness. “We take that lineage a step fur­ther and say ev­ery an­i­mal on our farm was born here, and we don’t bring in any of our feed. It’s that com­plete trace­abil­ity of every­thing on our farm. “We have re­la­tion­ships with peo­ple on the West Coast that col­lect the honey for our honey yo­ghurt and we’re form­ing re­la­tion­ships with the or­chardists of the ap­ples that make the juice that goes into in our new­est prod­uct. “It’s about know­ing where all the things come from that go into our prod­uct.”

Cathy be­lieves the Hua Parakore la­bel will be a mar­ket­ing ad­van­tage in fu­ture. “We’re cur­rently in­ves­ti­gat­ing sell­ing into the Aus­tralian mar­ket and our Hua Parakore ver­i­fi­ca­tion is very much of in­ter­est.

“At Bio­farm, first and fore­most we’re con­cerned with an­i­mal wel­fare; sec­ond we’re mak­ing sure our cus­tomers have what they are af­ter and third we’re look­ing af­ter our peo­ple.”

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