Mahinga Kai

What is Mahinga Kai?

Mahinga Kai is a strong value of our local Mana Whenua, Ngāi Tūāhuriri. In short meaning to both use and protect our local resources, through working as a community, educating and protecting our local environment.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Ngāi Tūāhuriri, the Avon Ōtākaro Network and the Canterbury Waterways Research centre have agreed to work together to develop Mahinga kai in Christchurch.  

Mahinga kai, meaning to mahi ngā kai (work the food), is a management concept. Therefore a way of thinking that involves and understands the simultaneous protection and use of resources. So Ngāi Tahu approach this from an integrated management model known as Ki Uta Ki Tai (from the mountains to the sea). 

According to mana whenua, mahinga kai is a key Ngāi Tahu value for earthquake recovery. So it is an important aspect of the Ngāi Tahu Settlement Claim. 

Mahinga kai is the concept that exemplifies the complex, interconnected cultural beliefs and practices of Ngāi Tahu in relation to the environment. So this describes not only the species gathered but the places and practices involved in doing so. Including the direct and indirect use of resources for ceremonial, medicinal and sustenance purposes. 

Ngāi Tahu supports the metaphor of a plaited rope with the weaving of exotic and indigenous species, and of Pākehā and Ngāi Tahu traditions. 

Ngāi Tahu interprets mahinga kai in its broadest sense to include food for body, mind and spirit. Therefore Education, learning (‘food for thought’) and spiritual sustenance are as much a part of the project as physical food.

Mahinga Kai applied to a new planting area

Anzac Drive Memorial – Francis Vallance 2010

What did the space used to be like?

Anzac drive was a reserve before the 2011 Earthquakes with a strong focus on commemorating ANZAC through both the reserve and the memorial shown on the left.

Since then collaboration between the reserve,Ngāi Tūāhuriri, AvON and Canterbury Waterways Research has helped the reserve develop.

How is Mahinga Kai continuing?

The aim is to restore and enhance water quality, ecosystems, natural habitat, biodiversity and inanga spawning. Through supporting mana whenua aspirations for improved and regenerated mahinga kai values in greater Christchurch.

The Natural Environment Recovery Programme for Greater Christchurch has mahinga kai in it’s Project 17. By stating to ‘Act on opportunities to restore and enhance mahinga kai’, with Ngāi Tahu (Ngā Papatipu Rūnanga and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu) as the lead agency.

Therefore the approach being taken is to develop an exemplar project. To demonstrate how to develop a mahinga kai project could and what outcomes to expect. The location chosen for the project was Anzac Drive Reserve.

As a result, this is a map of the current project being implemented on-site.

Mahinga Kai Plan

How would you get involved?

Contact Hayley or Sarah using the details below to learn more on what the up to date plans are with Mahinga kai!

Sarah Butterfield   
(Mahinga Kai Exemplar Project Manager, Avon-Ōtākaro Network)

Hayley Guglietta   
(Avon-Ōtākaro Network VIsion Development & Advocacy)
029 9827180