Enabling whānau through traditional and modern kai practices

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

'Creating Space' is an initiative in Tūranganui a Kiwa Gisborne helping the community develop skills gathering and preparing food from the wild.

"Just demonstrating a few things on the ngahere and the moana, from processing meat to sharpening knives, just all the things you need for that," says Travis Tawera. "Had the brother Harlem, he was doing fish filleting and how to open a kina, cooking crays, pāua and those sorts of things.”

Harlem Ratapu says, “I've had a kina, poha demonstrations, so how to open your kina and poha your kina tongues. And also explained a little bit more about kina habitat, where you're likely to find kina and even giving someone their first ever try of a kina.”

Collaborating with the Gisborne District Council, Ratapu, the man behind Creating Space, says the initiative is helping draw the community together.

“A sense of whānau, a greater sense of whānau, breaking down of social boundary and realising that there are beautiful people out here in our community that are wanting to come together and gift to each other.”

Tawera says, “We got the barbeque going bro, we got boil ups, the atmosphere is awesome, everyone is happy, good positive space, good positive feeling, lots of tamariki here which is good to see.”

Ratapu agrees, “There's no drama, there's no negativity, it's all love and positivity and goodness.”

A free initiative open to all, there are themes of sustainability that align with kaitiakitanga.

“It's really important just to be wary of the effects of plastic in the world, so we've gone away from using plastic knives and forks and just rubbish and stuff like that. So we've got all our dishes from home, people have brought their own dishes and people can wash them up. Everyone can have a kai and yeah just looking after the environment,” says Tawera.

There is also a tinana, or physical station, helping people get in touch with their bodies.

“Connecting us together in a circle, can be wāhine, can be tāne. Really dropping into our tinana and feeling the connection of Papatūānuku coming through our bodies and creating space.”

Tawera says outdoor life skills can only benefit younger generations.

“Just keeping them aware of how to hunt, and how to fish and catch a kai and share it out because that's really important, just giving them that sense of belonging, sense of being.”

With the help of community volunteers, Creating Space will be rolled out nationwide.