Reconnecting people to the land and sea through kai

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Two young hunter-gatherers from Te Tairawhiti are teaming up to empower their community through an open day called "Creating Space" that aims to teach people skills and tips about gathering, preparing and cooking wild meat and kaimoana.

Driving the event is Harlem Ratapu who says, “kai is such an important part of our journey through life, to re-establish that journey with where our kai comes from, is to re-establish that connection with ourselves”.

A free whānau day event that is alcohol-free, drug-free and smoke-free.

'Creating Space' will teach people practical skills about gathering and preparing food in the wild.

Ratapu is in charge of the 'moana' zone, teaching people about seafood and says it's about taking people back to their origins, with the re-birthing of traditional food gathering practices.

“It's a skill and it's an artform that we all have the ability to tap into”, says Ratapu.

Travis Tawera (Te Whānau a Rākairoa) will be managing the 'ngahere' zone, teaching people about land-based and freshwater food.

“Venison, or wild pork, puha or tuna, I'm going to be teaching how to process it, so cut it up into steaks and chops and all those kinds of things, teaching a few other things about pest control and those things as well so we're looking after our environment”, says Tawera.

Now a growing initiative in its second year, Harlem Ratapu is taking the concept to communities throughout Aotearoa and making it available to all.

“This is a space to promote unity, this is a space to embrace everybody of all cultures, young old, dark, white, successful, not 'successful”, says Ratapu.

Both men are motivated by enabling others to partake in the gift of giving.

“When I'm gifting kai or my time or anything like that to the people you can really see how it makes them feel, and it makes me feel awesome as well just being able to share, instead of giving someone a fish I can give the knowledge to go out there and they'll be feeding their whānau for generations to come”, says Tawera.

The event emphasizes Māori approaches to environmental custodianship and sustainable practices.

The 'Whare' zone, will highlight pragmatic pathways such as how to start a garden to grow your own veggies and fruit, as well as how to use solar power.

“We're setting up a wash space for people to bring their own plates their own utensils, so that they can bring it to the tables get their kai, the kai is absolutely free, get their kai, wash their plate, dry their plate and take it back home again so we've got no waste, zero waste”, says Ratapu.

Tawera invites volunteers who want to help out to make contact and get involved.

“Everyone's welcome you might to open some kinas and share them out, one for one for me that kind of buzz, it's all love and everyone's welcome whānau.”

There will also be a zone for 'Tinana' or physical health with mirimiri practitioners and rongoā.

The "Creating Space" day takes place on the 26th of October at Kelvin Park, next to C Company House.