A year in review – Healthy Families South Auckland (The Southern Initiative)

It has been a year of advancements and adjustments for the Healthy Families South Auckland team at The Southern Initiative.

“Like most Healthy Families New Zealand teams across Aotearoa, this year involved a lot of adapting our work due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” says Healthy Families South Auckland manager Winnie Hauraki.

“In the second half of 2021 we had to move our mahi online with key stakeholders and partners, whether it be in food systems, healthy environment approach or workplace wellbeing. But we still have made great strides and seen some initiatives grow and expand beyond their original expectations.”

The team has also welcomed Atarau Pouwhare-Ellis on as a new systems innovator. 

Born and raised predominantly in South Auckland, Atarau is Tuhoe and Cook Island Māori. She has links back to Waiohau, where she spent two years in her youth living with her hapū.

“Atarau was already a part of The Southern Initiative whānau, having worked with Youth Innovation,” says Winnie. “Her experience and knowledge gained in TSI, and working in South Auckland communities with rangatahi, makes her a great addition to the team.” 

Healthy Environment Approach 

It has been three years since the Healthy Environment Approach (HEA) was implemented into the community grants process for South Auckland community-led events.

In the 2020/2021 funding year over 300 community grants, which met HEA principles, were approved. The HEA initiative has also expanded in other funding areas including sports and recreation, arts and culture as well as non-community-led events.

Auckland Council Events facilitator Lucky Sialii says the HEA framework has helped in the promotion of community health.

“We know that many of the groups which host community events in South Auckland are already keen to promote health and wellbeing. So it makes sense to use Healthy Environment principles as part of other funding processes to ensure we are continuing to support our communities in that area.”

HEA has also grown within Auckland Council’s leisure centres for its Kauri Kids ECE and OSCAR afterschool programmes.

Originally adopted by South Auckland leisure centres, the initiative is designed to help increase nutrition in tamariki by reducing sugar, saturated fats and portion sizes in their meals prepared by staff.

It has proven so fruitful that North Auckland leisure centres adopted HEA earlier this year.

Paula Albertsma works at the East Coasts Bay Kauri Kids ECE centre and says the feedback from whanau has been very positive.

“It has also been a good confidence boost to those staff who maybe weren’t used to such food preparation. We want to ensure we are giving the children the very best and this approach has been beneficial to staff in that we now have greater consistency when it comes to food menu and preparation which means less stress.”

Healthy Families South Auckland manager Winnie Hauraki says HEA will continue to be embedded across Auckland Council settings in 2022.

“The goal for Healthy Families South Auckland and The Southern Initiative is that all South Aucklanders enjoy good health and wellbeing, enabled by cultural, social and physical environments. The Healthy Environment Approach is doing just that.”   

Papatoetoe Food Hub

The Papatoetoe Food Hub has continued to provide good, affordable kai in a saturated fast food environment.

Healthy Families South Auckland developed the Food Hub concept in 2017, and continues to support the Papatoetoe Food Hub, its directors and kaupapa. 

Healthy Families South Auckland recently released a report, Papatoetoe Food Hub: Transforming Local Food Systems, showcasing the journey and effort by all stakeholders to make the Food Hub flourish into a social enterprise.

Whenua to Whenua has been a successful initiative started by the Papatoetoe Food Hub. It is an onsite composting and recycle station that is designed to minimise waste while also being used as an educational tool for the local community on how to replicate similar models at home.

“Our aim has been not only to provide good and affordable food but also to have sustainable practices that can be easily implemented by the community, including zero waste,” says Papatoetoe Food Hub director Raju Ramakrishna.

The Papatoetoe Food Hub will look to add more educational programmes to its kaupapa in the coming months.

The Food Hub Collective has been formed to oversee the expansion of the Food Hub concept, with the Papakura Food Hub looking to officially launch in 2022.

Good Food Road Map

Healthy Families South Auckland has been working with various stakeholders and partners on helping them to implement The Good Food Road Map, a strategic framework designed to bring consistency and efficiency in order to build a more resilient local food system.

Workshops are currently being done with teams within Auckland Council as well as community organisations wishing to use The Good Food Road Map framework in their own mahi.

“The truth in South Auckland is that we have good access to bad food and bad access to good food,” Healthy Families South Auckland manager George Makapatama said earlier this year.

“The Good Food Road Map is about moving us towards a space where our communities have access to good and affordable food at all times. It is done by taking the current kaupapa that many organisations are already doing and strategically supporting that to deliver positive long-term systemic change.”

Workplace wellbeing

Healthy Families South Auckland, along with Healthy Families Waitakere, has been collaborating with the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) to support the cleaning industry around the wellbeing of its essential workers.

A recent report by ARPHS showed that despite being the 12th largest employing industry in Auckland with over 12,000 workers, the cleaning industry is greatly undervalued by consumers and the wider public.

This has led to a cross-sectoral cleaning industry group to discuss and test narratives in order to help the public understand the important role cleaners play in society, including this story for Thank Your Cleaner Day in October.