On the basis of this project being part-way through, we offer the following insights:
Pā to Plate is reinvigorating marae communities throughout Taitokerau. ‘Marae’ as a social category encompasses descendants living at ancestral homes, nearby and away.
Pā to Plate is centred on growing growers, growing kai, and growing communities.
Pā to Plate is about strengthening connections: between kāinga, kai and ancestrally based kōrero.
Mahinga kai – gardens – is the centre of marae-based innovation that we are developing. It provides the purpose and focus for communities to feed their people, economically and culturally.
Pā to Plate essentially represents a cyclical economy and a whakapapa in economy system.
Its success is through the integration of kinship into: the business of gardening, the preparation of kai ready for whānau and markets as well as the integration of kinship into the activities of whānau receiving kai, buying kai and reciprocating with support back to kāinga-based specialists/growers. It works as a network through whakapapa connections between families and marae. In other words, building the economic model is through whakapapa connections. Outside agencies need to recognise and support this.
In simple terms, Pā to Plate is a true tangata whenua economic system: tangata – the home people and their whānau living away – involved as producers or consumers, while their ancestral land – whenua – sustains all.
Colonisation continues to impact the economic capability of hau kāinga communities regarding gardening production/feeding descendants at scale. History shapes the current situation of all marae economies. It is important for all including outside agencies to understand the basic impacts of history on each marae community including land loss and the effects of laws and policies – depopulation, high unemployment, low services and infrastructure support, among other things, in order to know how to provide the right kind of support for any food system endeavour.
Development and implementation of annual individual and collective mahinga kai implementation plans are important to success as is the development of longer-term plans and strategies.
The Pā to Plate implementation plans will not only account for the unique set of challenges each specialist grower faces, but also map out required mitigations and developments required to achieve success.
Hau kāinga need to be united in the development of a political, social, and economic support processes to protect and nurture their specialist growers.
Pā to Plate success can be measured in terms of economic outputs, and kin accountable (whakapapa)-engaged socio-political values of mana (authority, identity, control, influence) and manaaki (giving, caring for others, supporting others, showing respect). Mana and manaaki are also about risks and rewards. Outside agencies need to understand the mana/manaaki dynamic and the balance of these values as communities define them, in any support for business planning. As one gardener said, “Any external, outsider help has to be on local terms and with the understanding of tikanga.”
Pā to Plate as a cultural – economic system developed from a multi-marae community collective, can be replicated in any region based on the foundation principles outlined in our programme. The cultural antecedents that we discuss provide guidelines while the business principles and value chain that will be set out in a later document will outline other strategic pathways. However, essential to any success is understanding the complex range of challenges which are historically based and then planning for and mitigating against them. We set out some of these in this report.