Third Annual Conference Native American Nutrition

Erina Korohina, Toi Tangata kaiarahi/nutritionist, along with Growing the Puna intern Hannah Rapata recently attended and presented at the Native American Nutrition conference held in Minnesota, America.

The conference brought together tribal officials, researchers, practitioners, and others to discuss the current state of indigenous and academic scientific knowledge about native nutrition and food science, and identify new areas of work.

The topics at the conference included:

  • Nutrition across the life cycle
  • Intergenerational learning about food and nutrition
  • Learning from Indigenous communities around the world
  • Linking agriculture to nutrition
  • Recovering from historical trauma


Mindy Kurzer (Professor of Nutrition,
Professor of Medicine
Director, Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute, Dept. of Food Science and Nutrition
University of Minnesota), Julia Coates (Kaiarahi whanau ora/nutritionist – Te Puna Ora o Mataatua), Hannah Rapata (Dietetic tauira – University of Auckland)

Erina and Hannah presented on the Toi Tangata Growing the Puna programme which  is a project that grew out of the desire to fill an identified gap between students (who have a particular focus on physical activity and/or nutrition) and both Māori communities and the health sector. You can learn more by viewing the Growing the Puna booklet here.


“We connected with so many different people and they all have similar stories as us with the ongoing effects of colonisation affecting the health outcomes of their people, and then learning about the small community lead innovations that acknowledge and work with indigenous knowledge systems to create pathways that achieve results/create success,” says Erina.

“We kept hearing a saying mentioning  ‘all my relations.’ This refers to the connection we all have as indigenous people.”

The conference kai was all based around Native American foods which included the kōrero of the three sisters – corn, beans and squash a traditional stable food. Both the corn and the beans were also dried and processed in numerous ways. They added wood ash (alkaline) to their dried corn in a process called nixtamalization which greatly increases the nutritional value.

Look out for an upcoming Toi Tangata webinar on this kaupapa. There is also an excellent website which will be posting all the recordings of keynotes over the next month www.seedsfornativehealth.com