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Tupu Tahi – Growing together:

Connecting with the taiao through play and kai

Tupu Tahi – Growing together:

Connecting with the taiao through play and kai

06 July 2022
kids playing with gardening gear

Tākaro Māori allows tamariki to experience joy and fun while giving them the opportunity to make sense of their culture, whakapapa, and the world they live in. Here’s a great example of Tākaro Māori in action.

An ‘edible playground’ has captured the hearts and imagination of a Northland community where Healthy Families Far North has worked with local whānau in Whangaroa to create a space where they can connect with the taiao through play and kai.

In exploring concepts around creating healthy relationships with fresh kai through play, Healthy Families Far North Lead Systems Innovator, Paul Condron, said whānau is at the core of the kaupapa. Paul and his team created a working group with local whānau to look at solutions through a codesign process.

“Our hope with this edible playground is that tamariki and whānau can be curious and explore in a safe environment, free to learn about the world through looking, touching, banging and being 'haututū (mischievous and curious).”

By introducing creative ways to look at and think about hauora that embrace the holistic power of play in a uniquely Māori way, the team hopes to help whānau in all aspects of their life - taha wairua, taha hinengaro, taha whānau and taha tinana (spiritual, mental, social and physical).

“Whānau were asking for something different, something that was more than a playground – a space where parents, caregivers and kaumātua can go with young tamariki to connect with them through kai, the whenua, and each other in a holistic way,” he said.

Child playing with watering cansAfter months of research, workshops, testing and moving from abstract ideas to concrete concepts the team went out to the community with a blueprint for the edible playground.

“Everyone who came back to us said yes, we can do this, this is really cool!” said Paul.

“We want our tamariki and rangatahi to be enriched in the knowledge of te Taiao by providing a space that is inclusive for all ages. Through play, comes knowledge and skills and we can disguise learning through play and having fun.”

“It should be a place where we just let kids be kids – without worrying about breaking stuff or getting dirty and mucky,” he said.

Healthy Families Far North believes the edible playground could become a national blueprint for other regions designing playgrounds in the future. Communities around Aotearoa can use elements of the kaupapa to rethink how they can encourage play to enhance healthy-kai knowledge for whānau.

Supported by Whaiao - Sport Northland, the kaupapa will be able to move forward with the help of Tū Manawa funding. Paul says they will continue to test the concept within their community over the upcoming months.

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