When Cyclone Gabrielle hit the North Island in February, the team at South Kaipara Good Food – alongside the community and other local agencies - wasted no time before jumping to help their local community. SKGF extended their support and undertook major relief efforts to start easing some of the stress impacting those most affected by the recent weather events.
The first Covid lockdown of 2020 highlighted the severity of kai-based need within the South Kaipara community. In 2021, after witnessing how fragile the kai systems in Aotearoa are and seeing how disproportionately this fragility impacts Māori, Gemma Donaldson, CEO of South Kaipara Good Food, realised that something needed to change. Thus began the journey toward mitigating food insecurity through education, food rescue, and kai pack initiatives.
Jump forward to 2023 and the team have successfully distributed 640,000 meals through their crisis response program, Kai Assist.
The love for their South Kaipara community was truly put on display over the last month, following the Auckland Anniversary floods and the notorious Cyclone Gabrielle, when the team hustled to provide relief to those most negatively impacted by the events. The Muriwai community was hit hard, and the residents of South Head were dealt a particularly poor hand by the weather.
Road closures, landslides, and power outages affecting the area left whanau isolated and unsure. Knowing this, it took volunteers no longer than four days to facilitate the organisation of enough kai and essential items to fill two helicopter loads! Once they were packed and ready, those helicopters were able to provide the residents of the area immense support with these invaluable resources during the aftermath of the storms.
On top of this amazing effort, five loads of relief items were forwarded to the food hub in Muriwai.
SKGF facilitate building resilience through food education, eventually resulting in clients no longer needing regular kai packs. By creating trusting relationships within the South Kaipara community and building confidence from within, SKGF is facing the journey toward kai sovereignty head on. They’ve identified the gaps in kai education that need to be filled, and consistently endeavour to wananga with impacted communities about optimising gardening practices and making good food choices to enhance the community’s wellbeing.
With multiple avenues of education and support, Gemma and the team are driven by their passion for uplifting their community and providing effective pathways to ensure long lasting positive change. Achieving greater kai sovereignty and, in turn, strengthening the hauora and resilience of South Kaipara will reduce the weight of impact brought on by the ever-evolving challenges facing our world today.
“Our vision is that through kai, we can create social connection, share skills and creative talents, and strengthen our community pride and resilience.” - Gemma Donaldson.
Image Description: Gemma Donaldson and volunteer Craig have their back to the camera, they wear high-visibility vests reading “South Kaipara Good Food” accompanied by their linework koru logo. They are watching the blue helicopter fly in the air in the distance - full of essential items.