The Kai Ora Fund: A recipient's reflection

Tuesday 24 May 2022

Jared Hiakita Kai Ora Fund.jpg

The Kai Ora Fund, which provides small community grants process of up to $5,000 to support innovative projects that address food security, benefit the wider community and encourage employment and economic development in the region, has supported nearly 200 grassroots projects and community-led activities across Northland. 

Jared Hiakita received support from the Kai Ora Fund for the project Ōnuku, which provides guidance for anyone keen to grow their own food in the Hokianga and Far North. Here's what he has to say about the Fund.

"The immense challenges that have emerged in the last few years have stimulated an urgency within the grass roots of communities across Aotearoa to reconnect with the growing of food at the local level.

In the time I have spent seeking financial support to fund projects that help community on their journey toward experiencing a higher sense of food sovereignty and security, the Kai Ora Fund clearly stands out as an exceptional example. No other fund I’ve come across is made in a way that is so accessible and empowering to whānau, to small community groups and trusts in the pivotal early stages of their development.

While many other funding programmes have an application process that is administratively heavy and unattainable for most, the Kai Ora Fund is presented to the community in a way that is helpful, supportive, and encouraging for people on the local level to connect with. At the same time, I have found the application and follow through processes of the Kai Ora Program to be robust and thorough enough to uphold the integrity of the kaupapa.

One of the beautiful aspects of this programme is the network that comes with the kaupapa. Here, through online platforms and in person gatherings, the Kai Ora team facilitates a space where the numerous projects can interact in a meaningful way that encourages cross-kaupapa connections. This is important as these types of platforms create a scaffolded network of connection that whānau and community groups can access to help navigate their way through the creation and process of their respective projects.

The staff who manage and coordinate the kaupapa are amazingly personable, culturally intelligent and provide an exceptional level of assistance to anyone interested in applying. I thoroughly commend and endorse this program, the staff who make it happen and the projects that were born out of the financial support provided by Kai Ora.

I confidently can say that without the Kai Ora Fund many beautiful kaupapa that have impacted thousands of people across Northland today, would not have received the initial support that was needed to get them going. In other words, the Kai Ora Fund is the difference between many community initiatives happening and not being realised at all. For all of the above reasons I sincerely hope that Kai Ora continues to support our Northland communities through the unpredictable years ahead."

Ngā maiohatanga,
Jared Hiakita

The closing date for applications is 1 June 2022. For more information, visit or contact Erana Peita on