Partnership lets students take food from ground to plate

Last Updated : 20 Apr 2017
Mangere 1
Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board Member Tauanu’u Nick Bakulich with Mangere College students.

Mangere Mountain Education Centre and Nestlé Cook for Life – Ka Tunu Ka Ora have partnered to offer educational workshops to secondary school students, giving them the opportunity to know more about food and nutrition.

During the day-long workshop students learn about ancient Maori heritage, cultivation and harvesting, nutrition and how to prepare healthy and affordable meals.

Amanda McDermott, New Zealand Wellness Manager for Nestlé, is thrilled to see their Nestlé Cook for Life programme being offered at the centre, enabling the programme to reach more young people, who in turn can share their knowledge with their whanau and communities.

“The context of the cultural roots and the history of food production on Mangere Mountain makes our Māra Kai Ka Tunu Ka Ora programme a very special hands-on learning experience."

“The Nestlé Cook for Life programme is about teaching young people, particularly in a community setting where we know it can have the most impact, about nutrition through empowering them with cooking skills and the knowledge to cook healthy, affordable meals.

“We have spent time training staff at the centre, some who are Wai-o-hua iwi, descendants of the original inhabitants of the mountain, so they themselves can deliver a high quality session that completes the holistic wellbeing programme.

“Together we are teaching the younger generation to make healthier eating choices that will change their lives for the better.”

Mangere 2
Harvesting produce in the gardens.

Cooking for life

The Nestlé Cook for Life Ka Tunu Ka Ora programme is run like a wananga (seminar), with students starting the day with a traditional Māori welcome. Students then explore Mangere Mountain, learning about its historical significance to the local community, including its role as an important source of food.

After a guided walk up the mountain, there is a hands-on workshop in the garden. Taking produce from the garden, the students then meet in the education centre where they take part in a fun, informative lesson on nutrition and healthy food choices, and learn how to cook an affordable, nutritious and tasty meal.

Students enjoy the fruits of their labour by sitting together and enjoying the food they have cooked, with the chance to talk over their new knowledge with each other and the tutors.

Students and tutors also talk over a plan to help make small but important changes when it comes to making better, healthier food choices.

Building confidence and empowering students 

This programme will build students’ confidence, enable them to be in control of their own eating habits, and empower them to become positive influencers encouraging healthier choices in their homes and communities.

For many it is the first time they have ever prepared a meal and it can be a turning point in their lives. They also get to take home resources to share with family, including a cookbook.

The students are exposed to concepts of community engagement, sustainability, inclusion, cultural diversity and history. It is the kind of learning environment that can effect real change.

On the slopes of Auckland’s most preserved volcano

The Mangere Mountain Education Centre, Te Pane O Mataoho, is sited on the eastern slopes of the 20,000-year-old volcano, on Coronation Road. It has been operating for 15 years and hosts a collection of artefacts and displays illustrating the formation of the mountain, and the life of its first inhabitants.

The centre staff offer guided walks to explore the Mountain’s distinctive geological features, and a Māori hikoi (walk). Having being occupied by mana whenua for centuries, remains such as kumara pits, terraces and garden mounds are still visible, and provide the opportunity to understand how Maori lived there hundreds of years ago.

Mangere 3
Students listen to a guide as they take part in a guided walk on Mangere Mountain.

An introduction to traditional Māori culture

This experience is just the beginning of an introduction to Māori culture deeply embedded in the landscape. A feature for over 20,000 years, the sloping valley is still cultivated by the community today. Abundant gardens grow on the volcanic soils, just like they would have when Māori of old worked the land. The education centre provides workshops for people to experience traditional gardening techniques and tools, including how the early tools were crafted by Māori.

Learning first and foremost

Mangere Mountain Centre also offers workshops on Māra Rongoa-traditional Māori healing knowledge by taking a closer look at the medicinal properties of the plants. The centre helps interpret the landscape, and visitors can engage in a number of cultural based hands-on workshops. Kaihautu (CEO) Simon Kozak says:

“It is first and foremost an education learning centre – our goal is to be the best-known, most-used education and visitor centre that offers a Māori world view in the Auckland region. We operate for schools during term time and cater for domestic and international tourists outside of term. Our visitation is growing at around 60 per cent month on month.”

He is proud to have recently taken on the role, after retiring from the world of advertising. Simon says it is a true privilege to play a custodial role to a site which has such great significance to Auckland and New Zealand. The Auckland Stardome and MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology) have strong relationships with the centre, sharing partnership programmes to connect ancient Māori lifeways with a variety of technology and astronomy topics.

A community hub

Operating as a community hub, the Mangere Mountain education centre also acts as a venue for locals wishing to hire space for functions or meetings. It is a Council Controlled Organisation administered by the Mangere Mountain Education Trust, and Te Wai-o Hua iwi. Dr Graeme Campbell, chair of trustees, spoke at the opening day address regarding his attachment to this significant asset for Auckland.

 “Here, at the Mangere Mountain Education Centre we study the history of food production, to tell the stories of the ancestors of today’s communities. We try to emulate the physical, cultural and spiritual understandings and the food growing, preparation and cooking. We understand that food connects us all to this place, to the land and the sea. That’s why we are so excited about the Nestlé Cook for Life – Ka Tunu Ka Ora programme at Te pane O Mataoho / Mangere Mountain. And that’s why this is the right place for this learning programme.”

"Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitu te whenua."
(People come and go, the land will always remain.)

Back to News