Remembering our stories through Kai Māori

Since Joe McLeod’s arrival in the North at Waikarā marae alongside Toi Tangata in 2022, it had been our mission to see him return to share his knowledge across the wider Tai Tokerau region. For over a year we planned and finally, in March and April of 2024, Joe and his crew returned for a whole month with the mission of delivering ‘Ngā Kai Tuatahi o te Motu’ across three marae – from Te Piiti Marae, Omanaia, to Te Patunga Marae, Whaingaroa, to Te Uri O Hina Marae, Pukepoto.

Throughout the month, over 160 participants attended. Many locals, some from further south, came to participate not only in Joe’s kaupapa, but in the context of their own marae, on their whenua, and with their whanau. Whānau continued to show up each day to gather from the ngahere, to weave rourou, and to pair rongoā and mīti. In amongst all of this, our collective visions for Kai Māori and its place again on our marae, and amongst our people grew.

It was beautiful to see the recognition from many kaumātua of much of what Joe was teaching. Memories were sparked within them of their childhoods, their kaumātua, and their existing knowledge around Kai Māori. To see the excitement in kaumātua around the knowledge Joe was sharing, that they had perhaps left dormant for so long, was touching. Indeed, if this wānanga has taught me anything, it’s about drawing on the stories of our kaumātua, listening to them, and validating their knowledge through our attention, and how we carry their visions with us

Joe has extensive visions for this mahi from ongoing wānanga alongside marae, to intensive training with Māori chefs, ringawera and rangatahi Māori with interests in culinary arts. To see his excitement at the prospective future of Kai Māori, as he hears the hunger of whānau for this knowledge, gives me hope and a sense of obligation to continue to support Joe to make those dreams a reality. Nō reira, ka nui te mihi ki a Joe me tōna tira haere – Adrian and Ash, ka nui te mihi ki ngā whānau maha i tae mai, otirā ki ngā haukāinga o ngā marae puta noa e kawe tonu nei i ngā kaupapa a kui mā a koro mā.