Regional Food System Plan

This project is designed to develop our region’s first Regional Food System Plan. This plan will identify pathways to foster our vision of a sustainable, locally-based, and equitable food system. The Food System Plan is central to the future development of our region – interconnected with housing, transport, land-use, regulations and emissions reduction.

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This project is designed to develop our region’s first Regional Food System Plan. This is an opportunity to foster a sustainable, locally-based, and equitable food system.

Project aims
  1. Create an actionable plan that prioritises food security, food sovereignty, economic opportunities and community wellbeing through sustainable and local methods that benefit all aspects of health
  2. Strengthen community, iwi and council partnerships across the region
  3. Embed mātauranga Māori and Te Ao Māori concepts of food sustainability. Support opportunities for the Māori food economy as determined by Māori
  4. Inform future policy on aspects such as urban development, economic planning and climate change

A number of regional complementary initiatives and approaches including increased supply and demand for local, seasonal, affordable and low carbon food and reducing/preventing food wastage.

Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourouka ora ai te iwi. “With your food basket and my food basket, the people will thrive.”

Why do we need a Regional Food System Plan?

Current state of our region’s food system
  • 1 in 5 children live in households that run out of food sometimes or often in Aotearoa New Zealand. For Māori and Pacific children, more than 1 in 3 live in households that run out of food sometimes or often, highlighting the unacceptable inequities within our food system.
  • This lack of access to affordable, healthy food, alongside food environments that enable accessibility and marketing of highly-processed foods can lead to diet-related diseases that cause 1 in 5 deaths globally.
  • Our industrialised food system creates a disconnect between people, the land, and the food they eat.
  • One third of our regional greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from our agriculture sector.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic, recent severe weather events and global conflicts have highlighted supply chain vulnerability and sustainability risks. These events also impacted food prices, which rose in 2023 at a pace not seen in 30 years.
  • A supermarket duopoly in Aotearoa New Zealand reduces competition and consumer choice, while taking over $1million per day in profits. Supermarket arrangements are difficult and costly for medium and small-scale growers, and consumer expectations of “perfect produce” drive food waste.
  • Nationally, we throw away over 122,547 tonnes of per annum: enough to feed around 262,917 people, or about half the population of the region.
  • National and regional policies and regulations favour export models for food and provide hurdles for the local sale of food.
Our vision for our region’s food system

A regional food system that is sustainable, equitable and locally-led for the wellbeing of our environment and people.

The RFSP envisions a future state where:

Sustainable growing and agroecology are the norm, powered by a skilled, growing workforce

  • Food production supports biodiverse, thriving ecosystems and high animal welfare
  • We have a de-carbonised, zero-waste food system, operating fully on renewable energy
    Mana whenua are key leaders and decision-makers in the governance of our regional kai systems
  • Our food system supports and builds capacity of small/medium scale and locally owned food operations. They are enabled to access land, produce and distribute good food
  • Our population is healthy; all communities can easily access good food, including local and home-grown produce
  • We have strong food literacy across our population and institutions
  • We meet most of our region’s kai needs with locally grown, locally sourced and locally produced kai
  • We invest in, share, and celebrate the kai traditions and stories unique to our region

Te Tirohanga Whakamua stands as a visionary compass and a kokiri or driving force to guide how WRLC achieves the goals of our region’s spatial plan – the Future Development Strategy. Te Tirohanga Whakamua was crafted by the iwi partners of the WRLC – and generously gifted to each project encapsulated within the WRLC portfolio. Te Tirohanga Whakamua acts as a pathway to honouring our Te Tiriti o Waitangi responsibilities and also serves as a blueprint for achieving enhanced outcomes across our diverse communities and the environment when envisioning the future development of our region. 

Te Tirohanga Whakamua is based around the structure of a whare. Each part of the whare depends on and supports each other, and all are needed for the whare to stay standing. Similarly, the components of Te Tirohanga Whakamua work in harmony, their synergy is vital for the overall coherence of the structure. This holistic (or systems) approach is key in bringing to fruition the aspirations and values that mana whenua hold for the region. 

The meaning of Te Tirohanga Whakamua is:

Te tuapapa (foundation) – emphasises the role of mana whenua as Kaitikaki for our region and the responsibility everyone has to protect, replenish and sustain te taiao me te whenua – the environment and the land.
Upon te tuapapa the foundation are the four pou or pillars – these are important concepts of Te ao Maori, representing the elements of self-determination, Maori worldviews and knowledge, equity and unity, and holistic wellbeing.

These are central pillars of what sustains and holds up mana whenua and our communities into the future:

  • Pou tahi – rangatiratanga
  • Pou rua: Matauranga Maori 
  • Pou toru: Kotahitanga / Oritetanga / Mana taurite
  • Pou wha – kaitiakitanga 

The whare is supported by 6 kokiri or driving principles, these are values statements to guide and provide consistency in the way we plan for and make decisions on the future of our region.

These include:

  • Supporting Te Tiriti partnerships
  • Circular economy models
  • Sustainable growth
  • Removing barriers fsor iwi 
  • Investment that reduces inequality and promotes economic growth 
  • And equipping future generations to face challenges, such as climate chage. 

Key partners in the project have been:

Overall management of this project is being led by Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand
The mana whenua of our region:

  • Rangitāne Tū Mai Rā Trust representing Rangitāne o Wairarapa Inc. and Rangitāne o Tamaki nui a rua
  • Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira Inc. representing Ngāti Toa Rangatira
  • Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust representing Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika
  • Muaūpoko Tribal Authority representing the seven Muaūpoko hapū
  • Te Rūnanga O Raukawa Inc. represented by Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki
  • Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui-a-Rua Settlement Trust.

The Community Advisory Board (CAB)
Regional Kai Network
Research partners and consultants Ahika Consulting and Litmus
Wellington Regional Leadership Committee members and councils

Current Mahi

Following the endorsement of Phase 1 of the Regional Food System Plan, Phase two is now aiming to identify and pilot projects and prototypes, designed to create pathways towards the desired future state outlined above, and refining interventions based on mana whenua, community, and stakeholder feedback.

Phase Two will be finalised in 2024, and will look to define the roles of each partner as we develop actions aimed at fostering a sustainable, equitable, and locally-led food system in the region. These actions should be integrated into council work plans and other initiatives happening across the region.

This work will continue to acknolwedge the critical role of the food system in promoting the health and wellbeing of communities, supporting local economies, and mitigating environmental impact.

  • Phase 1

    Stakeholder/partner engagement and Baseline Data Collection; Identify "where do we want to go?"

  • Phase 2 Pilots

    Pilots and building the Action Plan; mobilise action, test ideas, and answer "How do we get to our vision?"

  • Phase 3 Implementations

    Identifying learnings from Phase 2 for further Implementation

Status Underway

Start Date August 2022

Due Date September 2024

Lead Organisation

Te Whatu Ora


Contact us

Regional Food Security and Food Systems Planning PDF

A Decision Making Tool for Councils