Raju Ramakrishna is a Hindu Brahmin. He was born and raised in Chennai in Central India but moved to New Zealand at the age of 24. While in Aotearoa, he worked for a large government ministry for 14 years but came to realise for people to gain financial independence could only happen after circumnavigating a whole lot of social and health road blocks. But the systems that govern us are so silo in nature that whatever success they found was not sustainable. An opportunity to work for Healthy Families South Auckland seemed like the perfect answer to end 14 long years of inability (due to imposed limitations), to really help people and make a meaningful difference to their lives.
What Inspires you?
“I have always been inspired by older people, as they are an ocean of knowledge through their lived experiences.”
“I work as a Systems Lead Innovator in the area of Food Systems to address food insecurity, food waste and ways to rescue food to enable an even spread within the wider community. I do this by building partnerships with key members of the community, to enable them to achieve their aspirations of good health and wellbeing in their new home.
Some of his recent work includes working with the Takanini Sikh Temple (largest in the Pacific). This involved helping to set up the community ‘garden to table concept’, which has helped in the community coming together and sustaining the garden since its inception in 2017. It has enabled the older experienced generational farmers to share their invaluable skills and knowledge with the current generation, some of whom have become disconnected from the realities of understanding where food comes from, and how you go about growing their food in an urban environment.
Currently we are in the 2nd phase of the Al-Madinah Muslim school, ‘garden to table initiative’, where we have partnered the school with community garden mentors to enable them towards their aspiration of imbedding the invaluable skill of growing food within their curriculum. The school aims to open this garden out to the wider community alongside serving their 550 students and families.”
I am also part of the team creating a Food Hub in old Papatoetoe with the idea of making good food affordable and accessible.”
What is your vision for health and wellbeing in South Auckland?
I have always wanted to play a part in making this world a better place to live in. Now, I have the license to do so. I believe equity in good health and wellbeing is paramount, it’s the true indicator for a happy community. However, this can only be achieved by addressing the system that we live in. The South Asian population is on the incline but there is a dire need to address the health inequity with this community.
It is my vision to help reduce health inequity amongst South Asians who live, learn, work, play or pray in South Auckland by engaging in the prevention space as opposed to the usual intervention space
What is one funny/quirky/interesting thing that no-one knows about you?
“I performed as a professional lead singer for a famous South Asian band here in Auckland for over 20 years.”