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A Window into Mara Kai Ka Tunu Ka Ora at Mangere Mountain Educational Centre


A special open day held at Mangere Mountain Education Centre in partnership with Nestle Cook for Life showcased the new Mara Kai Ka Tunu Ka Ora programme, enabling distinguished guests, educators and key community stakeholders to see the programme in action.

Mangere Mountain Education Centre and Nestlé Cook for Life - Ka Tunu Ka Ora have partnered together to deliver an enhanced educational workshop to secondary school students. Guests were invited to observe students from Mangere College participating in the programme – harvesting and then cooking with produce from the centre’s abundant community garden.

The Mara Kai Ka Tunu Ka Ora programme starts 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 the guided walk up the mountain, there is an interactive hands-on workshop in the garden. Taking produce from the gardens the students then meet in the education centre where they engage in a fun informative lesson on nutrition and healthy food choices, and learn how to cook an affordable, nutritious and tasty meal.

At the end of the day students enjoy the results of their hard work by sitting together and enjoying the food they cooked, with the chance to share their new knowledge with each other and the tutors.

A tutor-led action plan is discussed with students to help make small but important changes when it comes to making better, healthier food choices. The experience gained by the students who will participate in this programme will build their 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.

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 Mara Kai Ka Tunu Ka Ora programme a very unique and 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”

The Mangere Mountain Education Centre -Te Pane O Mataoho- is sited on the eastern slopes of a 20,000 year old volcano. Operating for fifteen years, the Centre on Coronation Road hosts a collection of artefacts and displays illustrating the formation of the mountain, and the life of its first inhabitants.
The centre offers 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 the local Maori people lived there hundreds of years ago. From the top of the mountain tremendous views of Tāmaki Makaurau- Auckland amplify why it was and still is ‘a place loved by many’.

Dr Graeme Campbell, chair of the Mangere Mountain Education Trust spoke at the open day address regarding his attachment to the mountain. “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.”