Ahikā Kai is a simple and innovative business model for Ngāi Tahu food producers.
It provides an avenue for small and medium-sized Ngāi Tahu businesses to sell food products into an established market under the Tahu Kai brand. It also creates easy access to supplies of traditional foods for whānau. Consumers order and pay online, the order is sent to producers to fill, and they get paid once a month. There is no cost to be involved and Te Rūnanga provides the administrative core.
Developed by Toitū Te Kura, the regional economic development unit of Te Rūnanga, Ahikā Kai is a cultural revitalisation project as much as it is an economic project. In order to supply food under the Ahikā Kai label, whānau must be accredited and adhere to five key principles of production: hauora (health), kaitiakitanga (sustainable management), whanaungatanga (fairness), kaikōkiritanga (care) and tikanga (cultural ecological wisdom).
All product is sold with an individual provenance number, via the website, direct to the customer. Buyers can go online to track their purchase back to its origin and read about the people involved in its production.
Ahikā Kai currently has two operational producers online: Moko Tuna, and Wairewa Rūnanga-owned Te Pūtahi Farm with its organic lamb. A range of new products are coming online, including tītī (muttonbirds), Kaikōura pāua (abalone), and freshwater kōura (lobster).
“Ahikā Kai removes some of the difficult work for small business,” says John Reid, regional economic development manager. Many small Māori businesses struggle because they don’t have the networks, the capacity or the marketing skills. We streamline the whole process so they can focus on what they do best. It’s a great opportunity for whānau.
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