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Toi Tangata Launches Kai Resource ‘He Kai Kei Aku Ringa’: A Window Into Māori Kai Systems

Toi Tangata is excited to announce the launch of their latest project, He Kai Kei Aku Ringa. This project is an affirmation of how whānau can navigate positive relationships with kai by sharing their stories and everyday realities.

The resource consists of a series of six short films on whānau as they share their broad understandings of kai (food), and how these understandings inform their everyday practice. These films provide a window into the lives of six whānau as they navigate the challenges of living in a colonial world while maintaining their connection to Māori kai systems.

“By sharing these stories we affirm the hard work of our whānau and encourage our communities to persevere on their journeys of being in positive relationships with kai and all that that entails,” says project lead, Haylee Koroi of Toi Tangata.

Additional resources include a four-week meal plan, with vibrant kai cards that come in either English or te reo Māori, which are a tool to support whānau to build their kete (basket) of skills around kai.

He Kai Kei Aku Ringa was born amidst the chaos of the first lockdown of 2020 and was based on the whakataukī (proverb), ‘he kai kei aku ringa,’ which translates to mean ‘there is food in my hands.’ Funded by the Health Promotion Agency Te Hiringa Hauora, it started as a co-design process with the aim of informing a resource to support whānau and their pēpī (babies) under two years old. However, the project quickly expanded, growing through a zoom lens and reaching into the homes of 23 whānau.

"What became clear was that the relationships that whānau have with food extend far beyond the ways in which nutrition might support our physical bodies," says Koroi.

"Our health and wellbeing as individuals is a product of our surroundings and the systems we exist within. Our pēpī are very much a part of the picture, but our understanding of where they fit in, and how we can support their relationships with Māori kai systems up to two years and beyond, became clearer throughout the process.”

He Kai Kei Aku Ringa is part of a growing movement towards using mātauranga Māori as a means of delivering health messaging. The resources reflect the concept that ‘health’ in and of itself doesn’t often work in the long term as a driver for whānau Māori, rather, health is the outcome of our connection to mātauranga Māori as expressed by Dr Ihirangi Heke. Toi Tangata is a staunch advocate for switching the approach of health promotion towards focusing on the positives that whānau are doing for their whānau rather than targeted messaging.

“As we continue to face crises on multiple fronts, our access to kai and our ability to maintain the systems which ensure that kai is available will become more and more urgent. Now is as good a time as any for us to return to mātauranga Māori to mediate our relationships with Māori kai systems,” says Koroi.

"However we envision our futures as part of Māori kai systems, we have the ancestral memories and the means within our communities to get there if we can grow into the spirit of giving and receiving that is embodied in ‘he kai kei aku ringa.’"

To access the He Kai Kei Aku Ringa resources, please visit

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