12 | REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT Whāriki Business Network: Koha Kai Truly independent lives worth striving for Karen Phelps Now Koha Kai students have a programme called Koanga Kai, designed to teach the community how to grow vegetables. Koha Kai empowers people with disabilities in Murihiku (Southland) to lead truly independent lives. It’s something many other organisations mandate but Koha Kai founder Janice Lee says that in practice it rarely happens. From small beginnings Koha Kai is now transforming lives helping people to source, cook and have nutritious, wholesome food as well as providing a pathway to long-term sustainable employment. “We thought about what people need in order to strengthen and empower them to be independent and autonomous. The fundamental starting point is nutrition,” says Janice. “People with disabilities tend to be at the lower end of the socio economic scale and this impacts their diet.” Koha Kai now has many facets: training programmes, market gardening, corporate catering, a food truck and selling food into workplaces to name but a few. Each has grown organically in response to the development of the organisation and to meet its overarching mandate. For example in order to teach people how to cook Koha Kai required a kitchen. This led to a partnership with low decile schools to fulfil this need. The koha became supplying school lunches. As another example a separate corporate arm to Koha Kai developed when the Ministry of Education launched its Ka Ora Ka Ako Lunches programme. Koha Kai applied and became a preferred supplier for the Murihiku region. Janice says such contracts provide the sustainable financial support needed for Koha Kai to thrive. The cost of cooking for schools has also led to yet another initiative as Koha Kai has established organic gardens in schools. Initially providing ingredients for school lunches, it has now extended to selling produce direct to the public. Koha Kai is also part of the Murihiku Kai Collective working towards food security and sovereignty in the region. “We believe it is important for everyone to have food security and we constantly seek ways to enable our hapori to feel empowered by their achievements,” explains Janice. Now Koha Kai students have another programme Koanga Kai – designed to teach the community how to grow vegetables themselves. Janice says the benefits are twofold with students cementing their learning from Koha Kai through passing it on to others. CLEAN-BIZ Cleaning supplies LTD 117 Ettrick Street, Invercargill P 03 218 8169 • F 03 218 8167 • firstname.lastname@example.org • cleanbiz.co.nz Proudly supporting Koha Kai Invercargill • Te Anau • Queenstown • Central Otago PLACE AN ORDER: Southland Food Services Ltd. 03 216 2418 / Fax 03 216 7418 email@example.com 36 Otepuni Avenue, Invercargill SERVE UP FLAVOUR WITH WATTIE’S SIGNATURE RECIPE; CREAMY, PICKLEY & DELICIOUSLY FAMILIAR. Take coles aw to the next level by combining Wattie’s Burger Sauce with low fat yoghurt or lite sour cream. Creamy Coles aw Upgrade your burger, wraps or rolls by rep acing a c assic mayonnaise with Wattie’s Burger Sauce. Veggie Burger Mix burger sauce with lite sour cream to f avour-up crispy zucchini or corn fritters. Zucchini Fritters Order through your local distributor now!