Marae feeds needy with free fish off-cuts

updated By Talisa Kupenga

Papatuanuku Kokiri marae is taking its no waste initiative to new heights, confronting nutritional, environmental and community issues by collecting unwanted fish waste from an Auckland boating club. The marae together with the Outboard Boating Club (OBC) have a community focused vision that ensures not a single fish off-cut goes to waste.

Food for the garden and a cause for the community.

Project manager and head gardener Lionel Hotene says "The offal we bring back to the garden, we feed it into the soil. The heads and frames we sort and we give it to local whanau (families) and the community, feeding them and feeding the most needy."

He says the marae philosophy is 'food is medicine and medicine is food'. He collects fish waste from the Outboard Boating Club (OBC) up to three times a week. OBC commodore Russell Watson says it's an "absolute win-win situation".

"We have almost 2000 members here and sometimes we can have 300 or 400 boats out here fishing. They come back and most of them are only interested in the fillets." 

Hotene says it's about giving the people options.
"The fast food chains dictate what we should be eating and this is pretty much why we're in the state we're in today; over represented in diabetes, obesity and all that sort of korero so this is about prevention, this is about putting it at the forefront for our people."

In six months the marae has collected around 3.5 tonnes of fish frames, heads and offal.

Hotene says "Our main kaupapa is about giving it away for free as 'koha'. It's a reciprocal agreement that we have. So when people receive a couple of kilos of kumara they are obligated to do at least 20 minutes in the garden. We hope to change what people interpret as the norm. It's not the norm to eat fatty burgers and $5 specials. We are hard-wired for real kai (food) kai atua (organic food)."

Hotene welcomes volunteers or anyone in need to Papatuanuku Kokiri marae.