Iwi leaders partner with food service to provide kai to vulnerable whānau nationwide

updated By Jessica Tyson
Kai provided by Haumi ē - Photo / Haumi ē

Thousands of frowns have been turned upside down for whānau around the country thanks to newly-established foodservice, Haumi ē. 

Iwi leaders in both North and South Islands are partnering with Haumi ē, an Auckland-based food and logistics collaboration to ensure whānau and kaumātua are fed without having to compromise their bubbles.

The idea was the brainchild of Joseph Stafford, of Ngāti Rarua, Ngāti Tama and Maniapoto, who wanted to find a way to ensure his elderly sister with dementia in the Marlborough Sounds got kai delivered to her and her partner. 

“With help from a friend Aaron O’Donnell, connecting me to Auckland-based food and logistics provider FoodChain, we set up Haumi ē as a service a fortnight ago," says Stafford.

“We are currently providing kai packs to some of the country’s most vulnerable people. It’s been one of the most personally rewarding things I’ve ever worked on."

Iwi involvement

Stafford says it didn’t take long for the kumara vine to kick into action and before they knew it, inquiries were coming from iwi all over the country. 

“We’ve delivered thousands of kai packs to kaumātua right around the country since lock-down from Christchurch in the South to as far north as Kaikohe and everywhere in between.”

Top of the South iwi Ngāti Tama were the first to jump at the opportunity. The chairperson of the Nelson-based iwi Butch Little says it was a fantastic idea.

“Our board were very supportive. For Ngāti Tama it was about manaaki, supporting and caring for our whānau during these difficult times. The first kai packs reached our whānau homes within 24 hours.”

Lake Taupō-based iwi Ngāti Tūwharetoa CEO Shane Heremia says Haumi ē dropped to three of their marae around the lake in the first week of lockdown.

“We know our kaumātua, where they live and how many live in the same house. We just needed kai from Haumi ē in bulk so we could tailor the kai parcels to these houses.”

Whānau receiving kai - Photo / Haumi ē

Saving a business on the verge of closure

It’s also allowed a business on the verge of closure due to COVID-19, to pivot and keep some of its staff and the lights on.

FoodChain owner Nick Archibald says when he was approached to provide the kai, he jumped at the chance.

 “We had been supplying to restaurants, cafes and hotels around the upper North Island and when they closed their doors, that was us. I had to let 100 people go, he says.

“But then Joseph pitched me the idea of staying open to use my infrastructure to feed vulnerable families and how could I say no - so I retained a core team and now we’re back in business.”

Stafford has a feeling FoodChain will be busy for some time with the realisation that even after lockdown, kaumātua will remain under threat and need to stay isolated until a vaccine to COVID-19 is found.

“We’re getting out to whānau much-needed restaurant quality meat and produce, packed and distributed nationwide at a time couriers are price gouging and supermarkets aren’t discounting."

Nick Archibald and Joseph Stafford. Source: Haumi ē