Arohanui Lawrence recognised for services to sustainable food production

By Te Ao - Māori News

Arohanui Lawrence has been recognised with a Queen's Service Medal (QSM) for services to Māori and sustainable food production.

Lawrence is a key driver of the Aunty’s Garden initiative, a network of Māori and non-Māori sustainable food producers, and was instrumental in the establishment of Aunty’s Garden at Waipatu Marae in Hastings in 2010.

She was inspired by traditions of sharing surplus produce between marae in the establishment of a community garden at Waipatu Marae, where the public can browse the garden and pick produce for a small koha.  

The Aunty’s Garden initiative originated in 2009 when Kahungunu Asset Holding Company developed a business concept to create value for their people, while retaining tradition and preserving ancestral land. 

Aunty’s Garden encompasses the sustainable development of Māori land in conjunction with the promotion of a Māori-based brand taking Māori produce and products to market. The online network of producers has aimed to lower entry costs to facilitate individual Māori entrepreneurs, or entrepreneurial collectives, to conduct business.  

Aunty’s Garden was named for Ms Lawrence and the other women working tirelessly to support their whānau. Ms Lawrence has been a public face for the initiative, sharing recipes and knowledge and promoting community food initiatives, including through the hosting of the photographic exhibition ‘We Feed the World’ in 2018 and other events at the marae.