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Nourishing Hawke’s Bay: He wairua tō te kai

About Nourishing HB

Nourishing Hawke’s Bay: He wairua tō te kai focuses on improving the wellbeing of children in the region, recognising the link between nutrition and overall wellbeing, including mental, physical and oral health. Currently there is a gap between our efforts and aspirations for the wellbeing of our tamariki.

Nourishing HB is a coordinated approach, combining mātauranga Māori with a systems science framework and adding value to existing mahi by establishing a coordination and networking platform. We aim to establish an evidence base for the region on which existing and future initiatives can build. This approach offers the greatest potential to engage with a maximum number of people from communities with the highest need and offer sustainable outcomes.

He wairua tō te kai (there’s more to food than just nutrition), the guiding principle for this initiative, asks us to consider the wider values around food and eating, be they spiritual, cultural, relational or environmental; and how we can work together to obtain sustainable and healthy food-related behaviours.

We aim to collectively understand and address the underlying drivers of poor nutrition and the workings of dysfunctional food systems in the ‘fruit bowl of the nation’.


Nourishing Hawke’s Bay contact email: nourishinghb@eit.ac.nz
Project Manager: Pippa McKelvie-Sebileau, EIT
Project Coordinator: Nat Alfonso, EIT
Researcher: Brittany Chote, EIT

What do we know about student hauora in HB?

In 2020 and 2021 we worked with 43 schools across the rohe and almost 2,300 Year 5 and Year 9 ākonga. We asked them about their wellbeing, their physical health, their nutrition, access to food, activities and screen use.

Aim: Pilot a low-cost, sustainable and efficient monitoring system of student wellbeing with timely feedback to key change agents (principals, students, whānau, HBDHB, MoE, etc.)

Purpose: To fill in the critical knowledge gaps in the hauora of children (Year 5) and adolescents (Year 9) in Hawke’s Bay and nationally. The tailored and specific data we provide will be of use to schools to build engagement and capacity to improve the health and wellbeing of their students.


Overview and Results

Click here to find out more about:



Community Engagement

In 2020, we conducted 11 interviews with local stakeholders (school principals, iwi-based health workers, DHB, education and local food industry managers, and local councillors) to establish the principles, focus and aims for a series of community hui. These cognitive mapping interviews captured mental models (maps of the key themes in each interview) of the causes of rising childhood obesity and the best way to engage with the local community in a meaningful, impactful and culturally-appropriate way.

Six composite themes emerged across these interviews: the importance of mātauranga Māori in public health interventions, the ‘hauora’ of children, starting with schools, food security, working with the community and integrating existing initiatives.

These became the six key ‘pou’ (pillars) around which the community group model building workshops were established.  Read more about this work here https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hpja.549

We invited key stakeholders, community members and rangatahi from around HB to attend three community hui. Participants (26 adults, 19 adolescents) included representatives from 24 schools/organisations such as the HB DHB, Ministry of Education, iwi trusts, Heart Foundation, EIT, Sport Hawke’s Bay, ELS’s, Nourished for Nil, industry (supermarket owners,  Bostock, etc), school principals and students from five secondary schools. The adolescents and adults were on different sides of the same room to allow them to explore their unique realities shaped by their age and contexts (eg. school).

The purpose of these community hui was to develop a systems understanding of the food environment, its impact on the health and wellbeing of our tamariki and rangatahi and to collaboratively identify places to intervene and improve our food systems.


Meet the Team

Pippa McKelvie-Sebileau – Project Manager, EIT
Nat Alfonso – Project Coordinator, EIT
Brittany Chote – Researcher, EIT
Dr David Tipene-Leach – Research Professor Public Health, EIT
Prof. Boyd Swinburn – School of Population Health, University of Auckland
Dr David Rees – Synergia NZ Ltd
Charissa Keenan – Māori Health, Hawke’s Bay DHB
Crystal Pekepo – Mātauranga Māori Consultant
Erica D’Souza – Researcher, EIT
Dr Sarah Gerritsen – Research Fellow, University of Auckland

Our Partners

Nourishing HB: He wairua tō te kai is a collaboration between Eastern Institute of Technology and University of Auckland, with the support of the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board. We are funded by the Better Start National Science Challenge and Cure Kids.