Indigenous approaches to achieving food security and sustainable agriculture in Aotearoa New Zealand : why culture matters in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Massey University
As a signatory to the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Aotearoa (Māori name for New Zealand) ratified the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. Ending poverty, improving health and education, reducing inequality, promoting environmental sustainability and lifting economic growth are desired outcomes of the SDGs. Food security and sustainable agriculture play a critical role to enable this. In the context of SDG2 which calls to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, target 2.3 upholds a strong commitment to Indigenous approaches in agricultural productivity to achieve this goal. Despite upholding Indigenous people’s contribution to SDG2, research on Indigenous people’s inclusion and participation in agricultural productivity as conceptualised by SDG2 is limited. In common with other Indigenous peoples in developed countries, Māori (Indigenous people of Aotearoa) experience a higher risk of food insecurity than other population groups. However, through the literature and a case study analysis on an Indigenous food initiative known as Ngā Hau e Wha Maara Kai, this research shows that there is hope for culturally appropriate food producing approaches to enable food security and promote sustainable agriculture. A wider literature review also showed that Māori communities are revitalising mahinga kai (traditional food gathering places and practices) and māra kai (vegetable gardens) that understands the economy as a wide range of diverse practices, which in turn promotes a transformative agricultural food system that is healthy, economically viable and culturally sustainable. The four pillars of the food security framework embedded in the SDGs – availability, accessibility, utility and stability – not only provide a foundation for healthy and sustainable food secure environments, but creates opportunity to embrace culture as a key dimension to strengthen the four pillars for an inclusive and transformative sustainable development agenda. This lends itself to principles of Indigenous development and post- development thinking, which opens wider whaikōrero (formal oration) around development discourse to include local cultural priorities and well-being for Indigenous communities as ‘conditions of possibility’ within the mainstream development gaze. While Māori participating in these food producing initiatives benefit from the provision of healthy kai (food), food insecurity for Māori within the wider Aotearoa context persists.