The World Health Organization defines food security as existing when:

"All people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life".

In this section of the website, you are invited to:

  • Learn more about and how our food system influences our health.
  • Access the latest local data, news and event information.
  • Check out our vision to support the regional food movement by establishing Food Policy Councils or local food networks.
  • Join the food movement by getting involved in existing projects or starting your own.

For Local Government, there is also a section designed to support you in promoting healthy food access.

What is food security?

Expand accordion

The World Health Organization defines food security as existing when:

"All people at all times have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”

Food security is built on four pillars:

  1. Food availability: sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis.
  2. Food access: having sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet.
  3. Food use: appropriate use based on knowledge of basic nutrition and care, as well as adequate water and sanitation.
  4. Food stability: stable access to foods at all times, without the risk of running out of food. 

Food security exists when there is a reliable supply and people have access to healthy foods that are culturally acceptable, nutritiously adequate, affordable and safe. The definition is also moving towards inclusion of sustainable production methods.

Why improve food security?

Expand accordion

Toi Te Ora Public Health is committed to improving and protecting the health of the communities in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts.

Food insecurity is associated with increased food-related chronic diseases. These diseases (such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers) are affecting individuals lives and putting pressure on our health care system.

Collectively, unhealthy food and excess energy intake account for 11.4% of overall health loss in New Zealand. Toi Te Ora recognises the benefits of investing early in the lifecycle to support healthy behaviours and prevent ill-health.

Also refer to the research section, which shows that food insecurity is a barrier to healthy eating in our region. 

What determines what we eat and drink?

Expand accordion

The diagram below describes key influences on our daily food and drink choices, including supply, demand, access and utilisation factors. It is important to consider these factors when building or encouraging healthy eating.

How do our surroundings influence what we eat?

Expand accordion

Our food and drink choices are shaped by the complex world in which we live —

  • By the kinds of food we have available at home.
  • By how far we live from the nearest supermarket or fast food restaurant.
  • By the ways that governments and authorities develop relevant policies.

In New Zealand, and many parts of the world, the ‘food environment’ — the physical and social surroundings that influence what we eat — makes it far too hard to choose healthy foods, and all too easy to choose unhealthy foods.

Some even call this food environment “toxic” because of the way it corrodes healthy lifestyles and promotes obesity.

What is Toi Te Ora doing to promote food security?

Expand accordion

See further below or follow the link for more information on each of the following actions:

Food policy councils

Expand accordion

Collaborating for healthy food access

Toi Te Ora Public Health is committed to working locally with authorities, community groups, organisations, local businesses and local iwi to make healthy food choices the most accessible and easiest choice across our region.

To improve, Toi Te Ora aims to support the establishment of local food groups or networks (known internationally as local food policy councils).

What is a local food group, network or a 'Food Policy Council'?

A local food group, network or a food policy council is an organised group of people working collaboratively to build a healthy local food system.

Such a network ideally includes stakeholders from across the food system and representation from a wide range of sectors including government, health and environmental sustainability. 

While food policy councils are the formal name, such groups are typically named by the local community and may be known more commonly as food networks, food coalitions or food alliances. Examples include Kai Auckland, Food Fairness Illawarra or the Toronto Food Policy Council.  


A local food groups across the Bay of Plenty

Kai Rotorua (formally the Rotorua Local Food Network) was established in 2016. You can look at their Facebook page here. Toi Te Ora partnered with Healthy Families NZ - Rotorua and Rotorua Lakes Council to build this network. The network now has multiple members and has had some successes already, including the establishment of the Rotorua farmers market. As a group, Kai Rotorua plan to work towards:

  • A local, sustainable food system

  • Food education for our community (nutrition, cooking, gardening)

  • Reducing food waste

  • A food hub

  • Food sovereignty

In the Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty region, Toi Te Ora has been a founding member of Kai Western Bay.  This newly established local food group is underpinned by a wider local food network of many people interested or actively involved in the Wastern Bay of Plenty food system in some way.  Kai Western Bay includes representatives from Tauranga City Council, Sustainable Business Network, Good Neighbour-Food Rescue, Toi Ohomai Institute, the University of Waikato, Rethink and Smartgrowth. Priority areas have been set by the group to address local food system challenges, opportunities and add value. These include:

  • Supportive food policy
  • Research
  • Education around food
  • Land use planning
  • Reducing food waste
  • Community gardens
  • Supporting growing local.

Refer to the events section below for most up to date information on the progression of this local network. Toi Te Ora is also in discussions with other local authorities and community groups who are considering the development of a food policy council in their district.

More information

To learn more about this project, follow the link to the project summary.

Alternatively, please contact us to get involved, find out more and join the mailing list.    

Food security research

Expand accordion

Data Summary

This data summary provides an overview of available related statistics and research. Both national data and local data for the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Health Boards districts have been included.


Toi Te Ora Public Health research

Foodback Project

Toi Te Ora Public Health is supporting Auckland University research, the Foodback project. Foodback involves the development of a smartphone app for crowdsourcing data on the healthiness of foods advertised and sold in local community settings (i.e., schools, hospitals, supermarkets, takeaways, sport clubs) and outdoors (i.e., around schools).


Population Health Survey 2020

The Issues of Health and Wellbeing 2020 Population Survey aims to increase our understanding of local people's knowledge, attitudes and practices related to a number of public health issues. Key results relating to are found in the full report available following the link.


Food Cost Surveys - preliminary results received

The annual University of Otago Food Cost Survey has been monitoring the cost and affordability of food across New Zealand since the 1970’s. the 2016 report is available here.

In 2015, for the first time, data was collected across the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Health Board areas, as part of Toi Te Ora's commitment to improving access to healthy food.

Monitoring the cost of food is important as cost is a significant factor influencing food choice and purchasing.

Preliminary results are now available here. A full report unpacking these research findings will be available soon.

Food Security Literature Review 2013

In 2010 Toi Te Ora completed a literature review of published papers related to food security. This led to the identification of key themes and the development of a plan for Toi Te Ora to lead, advocate and support improvements to food security. The literature review was updated in 2013.


Food Outlet Mapping 2004

As part of a broader study, Alcohol, Gambling and Fast Food Outlets in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes Region, unhealthy food outlet locations were analysed.

Food security advocacy

Expand accordion

What is advocacy?

Advocacy is the deliberate process, based on demonstrated evidence, to directly and indirectly influence decision makers, stakeholders and relevant audiences.

Healthy public policy

Toi Te Ora Public Health employs a team of people who support and advocate to local government to develop healthy public policy across the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Health Board regions. 

Food Security advocacy

One example in relation to where policy change has been achieved as a result of advocacy was in Tauranga City Council’s Vegetation and Tree Management Policy. For more information, follow the link to a related news article.

Support available

If you are advocating in relation to a issue, we may be able to assist, please contact us. We encourage you to make use of our Food Security Position Statement, Food Security Data Summary and Food Security Toolkit.


Food security action across New Zealand

Expand accordion

Right across New Zealand (and across the globe) people are collaborating to promote healthy food access, create sustainable and fair food systems, supporting local food economies.

For your interest, a few examples are provided below, including links for more information and useful documents.

Restoring New Zealand’s Food System

  • Restoring New Zealand's Food System is a Sustainable Business Network project
  • The Sustainable Business Network is trying to help find solutions to the challenges in the food system, from production, manufacturing, distribution, access and eating through to waste. 

Kai Rotorua

  • Commencing in 2016, Kai Rotorua Incorporated Society is supported by Toi Te Ora Public Health, Healthy Families NZ (Rotorua) and Rotorua Lakes Council. Check out the Kai Rotorua Facebook page.

Kai Western Bay

  • Established in October 2016, Kai Western Bay is a strategic partnership between Tauranga City Council, Envirohub BOP and Toi Te Ora Public Health to name a few founding members.
  • Kai Western Bay has been in development since starting the conversation with a wider food network at the BOP kai hui in October 2015.
  • Kai Western Bay supports and maintains a broader wider food network, and the synergies between the two will ground local food action.

Kai Auckland

Edible Canterbury

Edible Wellington

Dunedin's Food Network

Our Food Network is based in Dunedin, and it's aim is to stimulate the production, distribution and consumption of local food and in that way contribute to the building of a resilient and prosperous community.


Expand accordion

Kai Rotorua

If you are involved in Rotorua’s food system in any capacity (including growing, producing, distributing, processing, selling, giving, teaching/learning about food), please join the Kai Rotorua community.

Kai Rotorua aims to bring together individuals and groups who can to support local business and sustainable farming to thrive, and most importantly to make healthy, locally grown food affordable and accessible for our whole community, especially those who need it most.

More information: Join their Facebook Page here.


Kai Western Bay

The Kai Western Bay advisory group meet bi-monthly and send regular communications to the wider Western Bay food network. If you are interested in being a part of the communications to the wider Western Bay food network, or membership details for Kai Western Bay please contact Hayley Adamson on or the Kai Western Bay group on


On Friday 29th January 2016, local community food stakeholders met at the Hillier Centre as a follow up from the Bay of Plenty Kai Hui (below). The purpose of this session was to decide collectively what should be the next course of action.

The agenda and minutes are available via the links.

During the Bay of Plenty Kai Hui (Oct 2015), attendees gave their overwhelming support for being part of an ongoing Bay of Plenty Kai movement. It was discussed this would initially include a local food network in the Tauranga and Western Bay region (also known internationally as Food Policy Councils); with the vision of linking with further local food networks across the broader region once established.


Taupō Community Food Meeting

On Wednesday 4th May, 2016, a small group of people involved in the Taupō food system in any capacity (including growing, producing, distributing, processing, selling, giving, teaching/learning about food) came together to attend a community food meeting. Compiled meeting notes are available here.

There are currently no plans for a future meeting. If you are interested in driving this, please show your interest to

Bay of Plenty Kai Hui

Grow, Source, Cook, Share - Let's Connect for a Better Food Future

Event Wrap Up

United by food, more than 80 locals came together on Friday October 16, 2015, not only to mark World Food Day, but to participate in the first ever Bay of Plenty Kai Hui

Please follow the link to the event wrap up which highlights:

  • Solutions we brainstormed on the day

  • How to access speaker presentations (available on this page below)

  • Event feedback, reflections, outcomes and awareness raised

  • Other World Food Day outcomes

  • Where to next

The full programme from the event is also available via the link.


Speaker Presentations

Please click on the below links to view the various speaker presentations.

  1. "Our country’s food - exploring what the national food scene means for you” Emily Dowding-Smith, Transformation Leader, Sustainable Business Network
  2. How Tauranga City Council is supporting local food issues” Michelle Elborn, Sustainability Advisor; and Rebecca Maiden, Manager, Resource Recovery and Waste, Tauranga City Council
  3. The Edible Canterbury story – successes, challenges, inspiration” Dr Matt Morris, Edible Canterbury Coordinator, Edible Canterbury
  4. "Solving complex food issues through social enterprise” Rachel Glasier, Partnership and Development, Director, Ākina Foundation – Growing Social Enterprise
  5. A Bay of Plenty Kai movement?” Dana Thomson, Senior Health Improvement Advisor, Toi Te Ora Public Health

Hot Topics - Open Space Brainstorming Session Complete Notes

A summary of key outcomes from the open space brainstorming sessions can be found in the event wrap up document above.

Alternatively full notes, including images of the handwritten notes (some in the form of mind maps) are available below by topic: 

Food grown on public land

Sugary drinks

Certified organic

Education - growing and cooking skills

Linking community gardens


How to get young people involved

Council spraying policies

Community resilience

Supply and demand

Options for time-poor parents

Childhood obesity

Community cooking

Food rescue


Mapping our Local Food System

At the Kai Hui, a networking activity was run, which also aimed to assist map people and organisations across our local food system. Posters from this session have been collated and are available here.

Full Evaluation Results

Aspects of the event evaluation are highlighted in the event wrap up, above. However if you would like to see the full results (made anonymous), please follow the link.

Alternatively, if you did not complete evaluation on the day, or would like to provide any more feedback, please visit: 

Spreading the Kai Movement - Media Coverage

Thanks to all the individual and organisations who supported this kaupapa, promoting the event and helping raise awareness of all food issues, big and small.

For your interest, a number of articles featured in the media. Links are available on our food in the media page.

You may also like to check out the hashtag #bayofplentykai on twitter and help us to keep the online conversation alive.


Pre-Kai Hui Brainstorming Sessions

Community brainstorming sessions held in June 2015 helped shape the Bay of Plenty Kai Hui.

Information about these initial brainstorming session is collated here.

Food in the media

Expand accordion

Toi Te Ora Public Health strives to raise awareness of issues through local media. Below are some examples of our media releases that have been run by various media outlets as well as other local stories.











Build your own maara kai vegetable garden

Expand accordion

If you have issues viewing the video above, please view the video here instead.

Have you ever thought about growing some of your own kai?  It can be a fun, active, and affordable way to feed your whānau, with all the added benefits of healthy produce free of sprays and additives like sugar, fat and salt.

This video and step by step guide shows you how to build your own thriving no-dig vegetable garden, or ‘maara kai’.  A maara kai is a great way to live off the land and use traditional self-sufficiency. 

The maara kai vegetable garden in this video was built at Toroa Marae (Pupuaruhe) in Whakatāne. Use it as a guide when building your own maara kai at your marae, home, school, workplace, or when contributing to a local community garden.

For more information about building a maara kai, email

For information regarding community gardens in your local area, contact your local district council.

Food security enquiries

Expand accordion

For all enquiries in relation to this section of our website please contact:

Hayley Adamson, Senior Health Improvement Advisor, Toi Te Ora Public Health
Phone: 07 577 3776