Northlanders have been harvesting the rewards of the Kai Ora Fund, which supports projects that enable people to sustainably grow their own nutritious food, and is looking to add to that success over the next 12 months.

Kai Ora is a partnership between Mahitahi Hauora (formerly the Te Tai Tokerau and Manaia Health Primary Health Organisations — PHOs), the Far North, Whangārei and Kaipara District councils, Te Puni Kōkiri, the Northland District Health Board, and Northland Inc, committed to supporting projects that improve access for Northland communities to affordable, safe food supplies for current and future generations.

By empowering communities to take action to work towards greater food security, the fund also enables people to improve and increase control over their health.

"The beauty of the Kai Ora Fund is we are able to support food projects that communities are passionate about, and to provide extra support through the partners and the broad network of Kai Ora projects," Mahitahi Hauora wellbeing health promotion co-ordinator Daniela Johnson said.

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"It is all about resourcing passionate community people, linking up and working together to support great things in Northland."

Since its inception in 2015, the fund had supported 92 projects, with 37 new projects this year, 33 of them led by Māori communities and whānau, representing an investment of just under $80,000 in hapori Māori. The fund identified seven key priorities — projects that increase the availability of healthy food, the growth of economic prosperity in Northland, resilience in times of emergency or vulnerability, connecting people who were passionate about sustainable local food, a community-led approach, the ability to try new ideas, and improvement and wellbeing of groups and communities that were most vulnerable.

Te Puni Kōkiri regional manager Tui Marsh said she was delighted by the quality and progress of this year's applications.

"It's so exciting to see the aspirations and energy in the community around growing food," she said. "It is a privilege to work with groups who want to make a difference for their wider whānau and community. Many of these projects will have a lasting impact on whānau around Tai Tokerau."

Joseph Stuart, general manager business innovation and growth at Northland Inc, said the fund was rebuilding strength in local communities, and encouraging people to contribute to and to benefit from growth.

"It also supports those in our communities who face higher barriers to growth to create their own solutions," he said. "Through the Kai Ora Fund we have identified and supported many leaders in our local communities who are passionate about food, sustainability and health. This is the most exciting thing about the project; by identifying, connecting and supporting those leaders, we are creating something precious, something that has so much potential for future growth and synergy, and will allow great things to happen."

■The group is planning next year's funding round. Individuals and groups interested in applying or working with the group can go to www.tttpho.co.nz/health-services/kai-ora-fund/2019-projects/