$10M project combines indigenous knowledge and practices with science to safeguard food supply

A new research project to future proof and protect New Zealand’s food systems and the environment has attracted more than $10 million in funding this week.

The joint venture between the Sustainable Nutrition Initiative® (SNi®) of the Riddet Institute, hosted at Massey University, and iwi group Wakatū Incorporation was selected by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as a recipient for their 2024 Endeavour Fund round.

The project, “Kai anamata mō Aotearoa – exploring future food system scenarios and impacts”, will address the growing concerns around sustainable nutrition and food affordability, says project co-leader Professor Warren McNabb. The project is funded for five years.

“This will be a transformational change benefiting Aotearoa New Zealand,” Professor McNabb says.

The project aims to identify equitable and resilient food systems to reduce

New Zealand’s vulnerability to climate change and economic pressures.

The Riddet Institute is a Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE), hosted by Massey University, focusing on advanced food research. Based in Nelson, Wakatū Incorporation is a whānau-based business owned by families descended from the customary Māori landowners from Te Tauihu (the top of the South Island).

Wakatū Incorporation is one of the largest private landowners in the top of the South Island, managing a diverse portfolio of vineyards, orchards and farms, and water space, as well as large retail, residential and office properties. Through Kono NZ they export beverages and AuOra facilitates their research and development programme in functional food and ingredients.

Professor McNabb says an interactive model will be developed as part of the project to make visualising the problem of weighing the many trade-offs of changes to the food system that much easier. This will help decision-makers transition New Zealand to a carbon-neutral economy and ensure the wellbeing of the people (tangata ora) and the environment (taiao ora).

He says the project will ensure New Zealand’s food system feeds all communities.

Wakatū Incorporation General Manager and project co-leader Miriana Stephens says the project will accelerate momentum towards climate positive food production systems. The project aligns with Wakatū Incorporation’s 500-year intergenerational vision, Te Pae Tawhiti, which focuses on reconnecting whānau to whenua and protecting and enhancing taonga for the benefit of current and future generations.

“The project will facilitate tikanga-led, land use opportunities and Mātauranga to develop opportunities in sustainably produced nutrition, health and wellbeing of people and our environment according to our traditions and knowledge.”

The project has a cross-organisation, multidisciplinary team, including partners from AgResearch, Lincoln University and Kōtātā Insight, with expertise in all aspects of the food system.

The Endeavour Fund encourages researchers to consider a diverse range of ideas and conduct excellent research with transformational potential. The Kai anamata mō Aotearoa project was successful under the Research Programmes stream, which invests in ambitious research ideas which have credible and high potential to positively transform New Zealand’s future.

Source:  Riddet Institute



Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog