Thousands of frowns have been turned upside down for whānau and their Iwi leaders around the country thanks to a newly established service to support them.
Iwi leaders nationwide are partnering with Haumi ē, an Auckland based food and logistics collaboration to ensure whānau & kaumātua are fed without them having to compromise their bubbles.
The idea was the brainchild of Joseph Stafford of Ngati Rarua, Ngati Tama and Maniapoto descent who originally mooted the idea to his own iwi because he wanted to find a way to make sure his elderly sister living 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. 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"
He said 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 Ngati Tama, were the first to jump at the opportunity. Butch Little, the chair of the Nelson based Iwi said;
“As soon as the Country went into lockdown, our Ngāti Tama whanau member Jo contacted me with his Haumi ē idea to get kai to our people around the country. It was a fantastic idea, our board were very supportive, for Ngāti Tama it was about Manaaki, supporting and caring for our whanau during these difficult times. The first Kai packs reached our whanau homes within 24 hours - In fact Haumi’s door to door service saw Jo deliver to all our whanau in Auckland, that’s Manaaki!
Shane Heremia the CEO of Lake Taupo based Ngāti Tuwharetoa said
“Haumi ē dropped to 3 of our 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.
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.
Aaron O’Donnell says it has was a few snap decisions to get started. "Joseph called me on the Sunday morning before lockdown asking if I could help him execute his idea. I knew Nick the owner of FoodChain, so I drove straight to over to his house to in turn ask for his help. He agreed to meet Jo the next day at 3pm. As we arrived at Foodchain, Jacinda announced the lockdown. So a few quick and simple decisions were made on what we could together deliver and it’s been all hands on deck since with everyone working day and night.”
Foodchain owner Nick Archibald said when approached 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, 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”
But all the smiling faces receiving Essential Kai Boxes from their Iwi are only half of this good news story.
“We have a network of food suppliers and freight partners nationwide, who too were able to remain open and keep staff employed. I knew we could scale quickly. And I’m very proud of how they and our team here have responded to the cause” it really feels like its been a win, win.” Archibald said.
While Stafford was impressed with how agile and quick to respond FoodChain was he was also impressed with how decisive Iwi have been.
“I’ve been real proud of my Iwi leadership. Their decisiveness to send Kai to all the tribe would have been welcomed by those in particular who through no fault of their own found themselves jobless when we went into lockdown. So for a week at least they didn’t have to worry about juggling home finances to feed themselves and their kids"
“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".
Stafford has a feeling FoodChain will be busy for some time yet with the realisation that even after lockdown, kaumatua will remain under threat and need to stay isolated until a vaccine to Covid-19 is found. Fortunately Iwi across the country have a kai delivery service that will support them in their efforts to keep their kaumātua fed and safe in long term isolation.