Hapu Hauora
Traditional Māori kai

Historically, traditional Māori diets saw Māori grow strong bodies and live healthy lives without some of the modern the diseases or illnesses many Māori have today.  What we eat now is very different from that of our ancestors. The arrival of the European and modern food production systems, and the urbanisation of Māori have drastically changed Māori eating habits over a relatively short time frame. 

Pre-European Māori food was gathered from the bush, sea, rivers and lakes, and some root crops were cultivated.  Birds, fish, shellfish, eels, vegetation, eggs and wild honey were gathered and prepared for eating.  Obtaining food was a prized accomplishment and food was a symbol of hospitality and generosity.  This symbolism is still relevant today.

Traditional Māori food included whitebait, the seaweed karengo, huhu grubs, pikopiko (fern shoots), karaka berries and toroi – a dish of fresh mussels with pūhā (sow thistle) juice.

The way food is now produced, manufactured, and marketed, along with changes to our lifestyles, have given us greater access to processed foods, high in sugar, salt and fat, and less to more nutritious foods like fruit and vegetables.  Our intake of fat, sugar and alcohol has also increased over the years.

A history of kai

Kai has changed significantly over time.  This three part documentary shows the timeline of 'kai' from pre-European times to the 21st century diet.

(Waka Huia TVNZ 19/09/2010)

(Waka Huia TVNZ 19/09/2010)

 (Waka Huia TVNZ 19/09/2010)

What kai should we eat?

Eating healthily isn't about going on a diet, it's about making a healthy lifestyle change that continues throughout your life.

You may find that you already have lots of healthy foods in your diet, and some may just need some small changes to make them healthier (e.g. less fat, salt and sugar).

Keep eating fruits and vegetables, meats with minimal fat, hāngi, boil ups, fish and shellfish.  Sometimes it's just how we prepare and cook food and how much we eat which makes us unhealthy.  A good way to start is by eating a variety of foods from the four food groups.

What inu should we drink?

Want to save some money and be healthier?  How about making the switch from sugary drinks to water?

Sugary drinks are one of the biggest source of sugar in our diets, providing nearly a quarter of all sugar intake. 

Tamariki who consume one sugary drink or more per day are 50% - 60% more likely to be overweight or obese than children who do not.

Sugary drinks contain a surprising amount of sugar. For example, a single 355mL can of fizzy drink may contain up to 9 teaspoons of sugar, and a 600mL bottle may contain 16-18 teaspoons of sugar! 

Sugary drinks are less likely to trigger feelings of fullness, making it easier to take in more calories than we need without realising, and is one of the main reasons sugary drinks are linked to weight gain. The sugar in drinks are also really bad for your teeth! 

For the sake of the health of you and your tamariki (and your wallet), make the switch to drinking water instead! Here are a few tips to help make tap water an appealing option again:

  • Keep water chilled in a funky bottle in the fridge

  • Add a slice of orange or lemon or a few ice cubes made from fruit juice

  • Freeze small chunks of fruit in ice cubes or use fun shaped ice cubes

  • Let tamariki choose a drink bottle, fill it and freeze it overnight so the water is still cold at lunchtime (this also keeps food in the lunchbox chilled).

Another big benefit - Tap water is FREE!

Sadly in 2015, 350 children from the Bay of Plenty district health board area were admitted to hospital for dental decay. Tooth decay is one of the most common childhood diseases that is preventable.  Drinking sugary drinks increases the risk of tooth decay.  

It is recommended adults have no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugars each day, and for tamariki, no more than 3-4 teaspoons per day.

Unsure what "added sugar" is?  Check out this video to learn all about it! 

Lets start with our marae and support each other to lead the way in protecting our tamariki and mokopuna from the effects of sugary drinks consumption.

What kai should we feed our tamariki?

Tamariki can generally eat the same healthy food adults eat and should eat foods from the four main food groups.  But since they're smaller, they need slightly less servings and portion sizes.  Drinking plenty of water is also very important.  Some tamariki can be fussy about trying new foods.  Click here for fun ideas to get tamariki eating healthy foods and click here for some fun and healthy lunch ideas.

Be a positive role model.  If you make healthy choices, your tamariki are more likely to do the same.

What kai should pregnant and breastfeeding women eat?

For māmā and pēpe to be healthy, strong and well, it is recommended māmā eats a range of healthy foods from the four main food groups every day.  Click here for information about eating safely and well during pregnancy.

Other important things to keep māmā and pēpe healthy:

  • women who are hapū often need extra nutrients for their growing pēpe.  Ask your midwife about folic acid, iodine and vitamin D

  • the bodies immunity is lower than usual during pregnancy, so māmā and pēpe are more at risk of food-borne illnesses. Remember to:

  • it’s normal to gain weight during pregnancy but this does not mean that you need to ‘eat for two’.  Find out about pregnancy weight gain recommendations here

  • breastfeeding is the perfect food for pēpe.  It has lots of benefits for both māmā and your pēpe (including being free!)

  • it's important a breastfeeding māmā stays hydrated.  Water, or reduced, or low-fat milk, are the best drinks of choice.  Drink plenty of water, enough so you are not thirsty.  This may be about 6-8 glasses of water per day.