Categories
food maori

Food sovereignty

Toi Kai Rākau Iti is of Tūhoe, Waikato and Te Arawa decent. An actor and documentary maker, he is back home in Tūhoe working with his community, Hāpu and Iwi. We talk about food sovereignty – agroecological regenerative systems which intersect western horticultural science with traditional Tūhoe ecological knowledge and practice.

Talking points

Transitioning to a place of wellbeing

Te Reo – the magic of nature, codified in language

We talk about the importance of mana motuhake, of sovereignty – the right to life as you see fit – yet we are dependent on industrialised food systems

I come from a tradition of exposing the theatre of power, recoginising the power of spectacle, now we are developing a theatre of community

Food sovereignty is climate change

Gardening as performance art – this is a show garden, a manifestation of energy.

We see intergenerational dysfunction, we say karakia to the land, but then sit down to industrialised sausages.

The layers of colonisation are subtle, deep and thick.

In growing stuff – not just food – you can see the energy

Questions to end (short answers)

Definition: It goes on

Success: Moving home

Superhero: Bringing value

Activist: Yes. Do stuff. Subversive

Motivation: Doing stuff for people

Challenge: Creating space for healing

Miracle: An awakening.

Categories
community community garden food

Community gardens community hub

Sophia Leon de la Barra

The single most powerful thing we can share with kids – they’re the custodians of the land – they have to take care of it, and here are some ways how.


Sophia Leon de la Barra is the coordinator for the Waitaki Community Gardens in Oamaru. Trained as a statistician in public health, she now runs the community gardens as a community, education and social hub.

Talking points

A glossy magazine for a sustainability strategy didn’t really feel like sustainability in action or practice.

I feel like a contemporary custodian of the land.

I found Oamaru and was fascinated that these eccentric people could be celebrated, and work together.

Our philosophy is around sharing life skills.

Gardening has skipped a generation, an effect of the commercialisation of supermarkets and urbanisation.

The knowledge is there, we just need to tap into that wisdom.

My job is really about people.

Community gardening is about food production, but also valuable learning opportunity and social experience.

Plant a seed, pull a weed, harvest a vege.

(On community gardens and time banking in Lyttleton) Sometimes you need a bit of a crisis to drive you to into an alternative economy. Adversity reveals character and reliance on neighbours.

Food is one of those integral things.

It is all too easy in a globalised economy to eat food from all over the world, but the environmental cost is not really factored in…how can a Korean ice-cream be cheaper than a local one? When people start looking at the logistics of global systems – this is crazy.

Growing food connects people to their environment.

Growing your own food is an empowering experience – it just tastes better.

If people want to engage it can scale up.

I measure our success by how well we are doing in sharing knowledge with the next generation. We’re reconnecting kids wit the process of food, with cycles of nature.

(Success?) Oamaru food forest.

Everybody’s got this about collaboration and making things happen.

A can do attitude – everybody’s got their own projects – so they totally get it, they get you want to do something new and want to help you.

The community garden, community hands in soil – truly intergenerational.

The single most powerful thing we can share with kids – they’re the custodians of the land – they have to take care of it, and here’s some ways how.

(Activist?) Yes. Activists are people who just do things really. If you get something done and it creates a positive change for someone else, then you’re acting on your principles, implementing – activism.

(Motivation?) Well-being of people, health is our greatest wealth, and the more we can do to share that the stronger we’ll be as a whole.

(Challenges?) Get more involved in Council – I’m standing for election next year.

(Miracle?) Make everybody more time rich, so they can engage in community projects.

(Advice?) If you’ve got something you’re passionate about, dig it, do it.

This series of conversations in Oamaru was prompted by discussions with Phoebe Eden-Mann following her OU Geography field trip to explore Oamaru as a transition town.

We are very grateful to the helpful folks from 45 South Television for the use of their studio.

Categories
climate change local government urban

Cities of change

Jinty MacTavish

Cities all across the planet are coming from the same place – a desire to ensure that our communities are prepared to play our role in both responding to and mitigating possible future shocks.


Jinty MacTavish is a Dunedin City Councillor. She recently returned from presenting a Council initiative at ICLEI resilient cities in Bonn, and took the opportunity to visit several inspiring developments across Europe.

This is a wide ranging conversation, with many highlights, including:

  • ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability. Resilient Cities Congress 2014. Jinty talks about various blue-green approaches such as Copenhagen’s stormwater management.
  • Copenhagen said ‘we need to have a Climate Change adaptation strategy that prepares us for these big rainfall events that we’ll be getting on a more regular basis, how do we do that instead of just putting in more pipes and more channels and more grey infrastructure, how do we do that in a way that promotes other outcomes – that promotes biodiversity, promotes our city’s livability, the needs we have around recreational space, avenues for active transport. With that overlay, as soon as you start to see things in that way…their entire climate change adaptation programme is based around expanding green space and enhancing water retention capacity in their blue space.

    The Copenhagen approach is to say “we don’t want this climate change adaption to be a negative, we want it to work for us in terms of improving livability”.

  • Berlin’s Templehof airport as a centre for urban regeneration (, 2).
  • Leipzig urban regeneration and Clara Park
  • Freiburg integrated transport planning (Academic paper 1, )
  • Freiburg has seen 30 years of unflinching investment in integrated transport hub with a focus on active and public transport.

    I get frustrated with the speed of change, we can’t move the discussion on fast enough, part of that is that we are hindered by finances, we can’t do things fast enough and comprehensively enough that we can’t prove it works, we do these bits…people say it’s not connected…now we’re focussing on a complete network

  • Locality: Local by Default
  • Bristol: Bristol Pound and Bristol 2015 European Green Capital
  • Local currency has transformed the visitor experience in that community.

    You really get a sense of what an empowered community can achieve when you visit Bristol – there’s not a street that doesn’t have some form of community enterprise on it

  • Cardiff Food Council