Just in time for Christmas, we are delighted to have another incredible charity partner join The Good Registry whānau! Introducing Whenua Warrior, an organisation dedicated to reducing food poverty and empowering communities to take control over what food is on our plates.
By building edible gardens, Whenua Warrior Charitable Trust is not only feeding communities, but teaching communities to feed themselves and to utilise all that Aotearoa provides.
Since 2017, 450 gardens have been built from Kaitaia to Taranaki.
Founder, Kelly Francis, from Ngāpuhi and currently living in Tāmaki Makaurau, says that Whenua Warrior Charitable Trust is making it easier for people to choose healthy food options. “Our people are vulnerable to unhealthy options and that leads to unhealthy decisions — so it is about offering healthier options to all,” she says.
Whenua Warrior has seen the benefits of the work they are doing through an increase in community connectedness, healthy homes, healthy people, and a range of stories highlighting the importance of the gardens they have created. “Kids are getting healthy food, parents can provide more and our elderly are given a space to share knowledge — gardening is SO COOL!” Kelly says.
The COVID-19 pandemic made life difficult for everyone in New Zealand, and Whenua Warrior was not exempt. However, they quickly found ways to continue their work by employing whānau, building gardens in safe locations, and implementing new ways of working. This resulted in more than 6000 seeds planted in a seedling house, four gardens built at their Mangere base, 30 gardens built in whānau homes with #projectaunties, and using Facebook Live to connect with families and teach gardening skills.
“The impact that COVID-19 had on our people and on our services was highlighted when we saw how weak our food systems currently are and how easily it could have been disastrous to families across the nation,” Kelly says. “Our people were trapped in a nasty food poverty cycle and couldn’t get out. We, as a trust needed to make some dramatic decisions and base them around what we could access.”
Once the COVID-19 case numbers dropped in New Zealand, Whenua Warrior prioritised those who had experienced dramatic changes due to the pandemic — including people who had lost their jobs, those who were living off a low income, and whānau that had taken in more children. They provided these homes with double garden box sets with 24 seedlings and information on how to maintain these gardens to feed their family.
The pandemic had a massive impact on their fundraising, with Whenua Warrior struggling to maintain their overheads as well as the cost to become more sustainable. Funding applications were not being processed as quickly as they usually would, and they couldn’t get into the community to do the work they needed to do.
By partnering with The Good Registry, Whenua Warrior are able to have their kaupapa shared more widely and the platform can ensure that they are more sustainable in the future. “We will always be called to do this mahi — and we will always need to have community support. This is a way that people can be a part of the story and support with what they have. A space is now created for some financial giving and receiving for Whenua Warrior Charitable Trust and we cannot wait to see how many we can help!” Kelly says.
A $10 gift can provide a home with a starter seed pack, while $150 can set a home up with a garden box, seedlings, soil, organic manure, and a one-hour wānanga. With $1500 Whenua Warrior can clean up current garden spaces, and provide a family with two garden boxes, seedlings, soil, organic manure, and a six-hour wānanga at the receiver’s home.
“This is our solution to food sovereignty — and we hope to grow kaitiaki to protect taonga tuku iho,” Kelly says.
- By Caitlin Turner