Kākano Café and Cookery School

Speech notes for Monday 22 February 2016; 4pm

Helen Leahy, Chief Executive Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu

The split second of time, immortalised at 12.51pm this day, will be forever etched in our collective memory, as whānau, as a city, as a nation.


It only right that as we gather here tonight we remember the 185 friends, colleagues, whānau who lost their life five years to the day.   And our arms extend further out, to the hundreds, the thousands of lives forever scarred by the ongoing effects of that tragic experience that changed us forever.


At our darkest hour we search valiantly for the glimmer of hope that calls us into the future.  

In walking in here to these beautiful gardens, we find the courage to move on as represented in the tranquil beauty of the lotus flower.  The growth of a sacred, divine flower out of the putrid mud holds the promise of optimism, of faith in our future.  


Today, we turn also the indigenous richness of metaphor and meaning associated with he kākano; literally the seed of life.


One of the treasures passed on from the words of old, is the saying:

"E kore au e ngaro, he kākano i ruia mai i Rangiātea,"
I shall never be lost, a seed scattered from Rangiatea.


Traditionally speaking, Rangiatea or Ra'iatea, was an island at which the Tahitian people gathered to honour their connection to Hawaiki Nui, the land that the tupuna of Maori spring forth from.


And so here we turn today, to the Kākano Café; the seed of new life given sustenance through the magic touch of Jade and Wiki Temepara and their ever beautiful, thriving tamariki who truly represent the essence of Whānau Ora.


Kākano Café is the perfect expression of hope that we need to regenerate a sense of purpose, five years after the earthquakes of 2011.   It emulates the kaupapa of whānau living healthy styles; of being self-determining; enabling whānau access to full participation in our world.


It interprets the Whānau Ora outcomes in a way which is all about giving back to whānau; giving back to the community through the opportunities associated with traditional food gathering; healthy lifestyle choices; collective living; cost effective kai; the possibilities are endless.


In the waiata that gives song to the meaning of he kākano i ruia mai i Rangiātea there is one verse that seems particularly apt for today:


Ka tū ana āhau,
Ka ūhia au e ōku tīpuna
My pride I will show
That you may know who I am
I am a warrior, a survivor
He mōrehu āhau


The concept of ‘ka ūhia au e ōku tupuna is understood best as meaning to be covered by my ancestors.


The ūhi is the tropical yam with a big edible root – replaced later by the kūmara.   Its leaves spread out as a cloak over the ground; covering the seed and keeping it warm.


That is one of the distinctive marks of Kākano Café – the commitment that Jade and Wiki have made – that whenever and wherever they stand, they are clothed by their ancestors.


Their commitment to whakapapa is given life through what we might call tupuna seeds – heritage seeds passed down the generations to give new life to our children to follow.


The kākano is in itself a symbol of reconnection to the land; reconnection to the histories from the ancestors, the knowledges, stories of optimum health and wellbeing.


In the journey from seed to plate, we ourselves become upskilled, inspired, and informed by the wisdom of traditional food practices; the intelligence of heritage; the celebration of culture.  This is such an exciting opportunity  - for whānau to learn about heritage seeds; learn about lifestyle change; and to do it, together.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu – the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency for the South Island decided to invest in Kākano Café because it represents so many aspects of ‘ora’ – that sense of absolute vitality; the wellspring of whānau wellbeing that becomes such a foundation for life.


Apart from obvious value of the café – the employment opportunities, the training, the experience in the hospitality industry – there are also a range of activities that whānau can benefit from.


The venture will encourage fitness through growing a garden at home and fostering a collective production/distribution network.


The cooking school helps to build a sense of community; adding to the knowledge bank of skills and educational opportunities.


The urban farm will enable collective efforts to grow affordable food; to build a whānau of growers and producers.


Finally, I want to end with another concept left to us, which could stand as the signature theme for the Kākano Café:

Kohikohia nga kakano whakaritea te parekereke, kia puawai nga hua

Gather the seeds, prepare the seed bed carefully, and you will be gifted with abundance of food


All of us at Te Pūtahitanga feel absolutely privileged to have walked the journey with Jade and Wiki as they have laid the foundation for Kākano Café.   


Walking with them has been their magnificent garden activator, Christa; their café manager, Renee; the support and inspiration of Hale Compound Conditioning and Help for the Homeless who have been a vital part of this journey; and of course the love and leadership of Jade’s Pōua and their whānau all around.  


Together this a collective with a difference: they ooze healthy lifestyle; they radiate the joy of a hauora driven approach to every moment of every day.   


They have shared their passion for supporting us to be well through fermentation workshops; through Kombucha; milk kefir; her forage salads; seaweed specialities; rewena pikelets; titi; fermented saukrat.  


I’d have to say that Jade is the only person I’ve ever known – apart from Miss Muffet – who actually separates curds from whey.


It’s a brave new world of nutritious initiative, of health-inspired energy; of enterprise and vitality.   This is an indigenous enterprise; which is both organic and ethical; sustainable and socially responsible; all from the power and potential of the seed.


It is wonderful that Life in Vacant Spaces and Christchurch City Council have stepped up to the challenge of this enterprise.

Te Pūtahitanga is so very proud to be part of the Kākano Café and Cookery School and we congratulate all involved for giving us hope from the rubble; for inspiring the sense of self-belief; for creating new life from which we can feel revived; reinvigorated; restored to all that we can be.

Learn more about their kaupapa by watching their inspiring digital story below, put together by the talented young lads at Maui Studios!

Mauri ora!

MadsKākano CaféComment