The Taitokerau Kai Ora Fund

The Taitokerau Kai Ora Fund

The Little Fund that Grew

The Taitokerau Kai Ora Fund

A collaborative project between Te Tai Tokerau Primary Health Organisation, Far North District Council, Te Puni Kōkiri, Manaia Health Primary Health Organisation, Northland Inc, Northland District Health Board, Kaipara District Council and Whangarei District Council.

Roll with opportunity

The Kai Ora Fund started a bit by chance…

At a local food Northland meeting, Ken Ross, a Community Development Advisor from the Far North District Council (FNDC) and Ngaire Rae, Health Promotion Manager from Manaia and Te Tai Tokerau Primary Health Organisations were seated next to each other.  The challenges and barriers around increasing local food production and consumption in Northland were dominating discussion, and everything seemed too hard.   Ken and Ngaire struck up their own conversation around what they could do and a plan was hatched to develop a small grants process to support local food projects in Northland.   Although this took time, effort and negotiating, money was secured from Te Tai Tokerau PHO and FNDC to trial the concept in 2015 with a budget of $40,000.


Start and bring people along on the journey

In the first year ten diverse projects from around the Far North were funded.  The initial process was for people to send in an Expression of Interest, and then attend a workshop to develop a project plan. The first time it was all about learning, growing and building.  We discovered the workshop was an important step to build connections with and between the projects and the dynamic, focussed and passionate people who applied.  Bringing this group together was powerful.  To build on this success in following years, to save time we asked for a more thorough application and kept the workshop but changed its focus to connection and support.   This was a key step in developing the Kai Ora Fund, as groups who eventually became partners were invited to the workshops to share their skills and knowledge and provide connection and support to the projects.  By being at the workshops organisations could see the value in the project and wanted to be involved.


If it’s working, others want to be involved

Te Tai Tokerau PHO and the Far North District Council felt the Kai Ora Fund was positive, exciting and value for money.  Funding was continued for another two years.  We intentionally invited and involved relevant organisations who could help us in our decision making and provide help and assistance to the projects.  We invited Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK), Northland Inc, Healthy Families and Northland DHB to meetings and workshops.   In 2018 TPK, Manaia Health and Northland Inc contributed funding to enable the fund to be offered Northland wide and Whangārei District Council and Northland District Health Board became part of the support team.   In 2019 Northland District Health Board and Kaipara District Council contributed funding and Whangārei District Council have provided valuable support in media and communications.    The lesson learnt was, for large organisations, things take time, but roll with what can be offered, keep everyone involved, take any help you can get and ensure all organisations see a benefit to the project.


The Development of Trust, Capability and Ways of Working Together

All of the partners involved see the value in supporting local, sustainable kai, but for different reasons.  The group is very open about this and we include all the reasons in our application criteria (oranga, rangatiratanga, kaitiakitanga, mātauranga, whanaungatanga, economic development, local employment opportunities, and regional development).   We ensure projects cover a spread of these reasons and are lucky that the group support the core values of cooperation, equity and whakapapa to underpin our decision making.   Ways of working and trust have developed over time and Kai Ora has become a key process for each organisation to achieve key outcomes.  Initially the project hinged on two enthusiastic individuals.  Growth occurred as the initial partners were open and inviting of others.   All partners understand and respect each other’s purpose, and the limitations each organisation has, which enables us to work together.


The glue that holds it all together

Having someone to oversee the project, respond to queries and do the grunt work is essential.  Initially this role was to be shared between partners, but after Daniela who worked across both PHO’s took on the work in 2016 as part of her Health Promotion role, it made sense to keep it with one person so processes could be built on and perfected over time.   The Kai Ora project grew quickly and it was important to have someone who knew the programme and could be a key contact point and driver to keep things moving.   Having Daniela in this role helped build the programme due to her open nature, people skills and her knowledge and respect of all the stakeholders and community groups involved.   Without the glue, this project wouldn’t have been able to grow.

Key steps:

  • Each year we develop a partnership agreement that outlines what each organisation will contribute including time, staff and expertise.
  • Need one organisation to administrate the fund. Initially, we had agreed to take it in turns, but as organisations learnt and fine-tuned the process it seemed easier to keep it with the same organisation.
  • Need a key contact person to lead the project and their organisation has to be supportive of them doing this work.


Tips for others

  • Trust takes time, don’t expect everyone to jump on board straight away
  • People are more likely to be on board if they can see the benefits
  • If you can’t go big, just do what you can
  • Share your successes in public forums
  • Accept whatever help people can give
  • Work collectively, run things by the group, get feedback, but keep things moving if you don’t hear from people
  • Acknowledge all partners contributions
  • Share information with everyone and ensure all decisions are collective
  • Have opportunities to get together and discuss key processes, but realise that not everyone will want to take part in everything, and that is OK.


 For more information contact:

Daniela Johnson, Te Tai Tokerau PHO: phone (09) 438 1015, mobile 021 837 717, email [email protected]

Ken Ross, Far North District Council: 0800 920 029 or 021 57 0174

Or visit the website