National Māori public health agency Toi Tangata is congratulating Rotorua's Tūnohopū Marae for adopting a fizzy drink and plastic bottle ban, and is challenging other marae to follow suit.
"Embracing this kaupapa is an awesome step in supporting the wellbeing of the hapū. The marae is setting a great example for whānau and the community on how to make healthy lifestyle choices," chief executive Megan Tunks said in a press release this afternoon.
Her comments follow a Rotorua Daily Post story about the marae's ban introduced this winter to improve hauora and care for Papatūānuku.
"The amount of sugar in the fizzy drinks we were serving to our tamariki and adults was the reason we banned them ... We wanted our tamariki and adults to get used to drinking our lovely chilled water straight from the tap," marae committee chairwoman Norma Sturley said.
"Also the number of plastic bottles collected over a period of time was phenomenal and we realised it couldn't be any good for the environment when disposing of them."
The move was described as "trailblazing" by Arish Naresh, chairman of the NZ Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association.
Tunks said the ban was a "simple and positive action" whānau could adopt to shape healthy, sugar free environments at marae and community events.
"Toi Tangata encourages other marae to step up to the kaupapa of embracing a fizzy drink free space for whanau," she said.
"We know that alongside these efforts, increased availability of safe and clean water will encourage whānau to choose wai Māori".