Vision for whānau enterprise

Keefe Robinson-Gore Keefe Robinson-Gore has always had a passion for kai, where it comes from and how it is prepared and after attending the social innovation programme Live the Dream he feels one step closer to fulfilling his  long-term goal of building a self-sustainable thriving ecosystem at his marae.

Keefe (Ngāi Tahu – Ngāti Irakehu, Ngāti Huirapa), is keen to establish his dream project at his home marae Ōnuku covering everything from vegetables and horticulture to honey, with everything working harmoniously together but also in isolation to outside resources. He recognises the importance of such an environment given the recent earthquake events in the Canterbury region and the need for accessible supplies.

Live the Dream allowed Keefe, a qualified chef, to see the visual progression of his idea throughout the 9-week period. He was able to put his thoughts on paper and work towards a tangible business plan.

The intensive full-immersion programme runs over the course of nine weeks. Participants between the ages of 18 and 30 are given the opportunity to connect with other young social innovators and inspirational industry leaders through workshops and mentoring.

It encourages its applicants to identify a social ‘problem’ and work towards understanding the issue and how the solution can be best met. In the past, participants arrive on the programme with an existing vision of what they are trying to achieve. This year, applicants were given the opportunity to develop that idea into a venture during the programme.

The idea of a self-sustaining environment on the marae has long been a passion for Keefe. He attributes his connection to the land at Ōnuku to his grandmother, who instilled the sense of belonging in him at a young age.

The driving factor behind the idea was that it has been done before. Keefe recalls hearing the stories of his whānau living on Banks Peninsula in the 1940s. From picking their orchard and selling it at the local market, to his great-grandmother making the butter from scratch in the morning. These stories resonated with Keefe, and continue to inspire him on his journey.

“We’ve lived off the land as people and as whānau, why can’t it be done again? For me, it’s about that connection with the land where you grow your food and taking a more holistic or symbiotic approach to what you eat.”

An initial starting place for Keefe is to utilise what is currently on the land and follow his grandmother’s recipes to create preserves and chutneys, all of which he considers a closely guarded secret. Having the ability to use the natural resources surrounding his marae provides a strong platform for his ideas in the future.

Keefe is currently on secondment with the Whakapapa Unit at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, another opportunity that he has embraced that allows him to apply the skills and ideas learned from his intensive Live the Dream programme.