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Share Kai and Kōrero reaches new heights on Ara campus

Lots InCommon event breaks records


Kaimahi and ākonga enjoyed the multicultural Kai and Kōrero event

The recent Lots InCommon event on the Ara | Te Pūkenga campus provided a sense of belonging for some and a taste sensation for others.

The Share Kai and Kōrero community pop-up concept is a creation of the InCommon and Mahi Te Aroha organisations.  It seeks to use food as a gentle entry point into what can become deep, important and identity-level conversations.

Bringing it to the Lots InCommon Ara | Te Pūkenga event recently saw it take on a size and scale previously unseen, with approximately 400 people gathering to taste cuisine from a range of cultures and kōrero together.

Organisers said the rich diversity at Ara’s City campus meant that while many were taking the opportunity to experience and taste something new, others were simply enjoying their own culture being enjoyed by others.

“We’ve had so many people say, ‘Yes! I’m Eritrean’ or ‘I drink Eritrean coffee’ or ‘I’m Nepali’ or ‘I’m Hindi’. So, there’s lots of recognition here which is really cool for the students here to have their culture celebrated and for other students to be able to experience it,” InCommon Project Manager Holly Griffin said.

The Share Kai and Kōrero model is a pop-up community event where people can experience the food of different cultures that call Ōtautahi home, including from Afghani, Eritrean, and Nepali/Bhutanese communities.

Passionate cooks from the Share Kai Cooks Collective created a menu of delicious drinks and snacks for the City camps lunchtime crowd. Options ranged from halal beef Afghan mantu (dumplings) to Nepali/Bhutanese sel roti (ring shaped fried rice dough) and sweet zalabiyeh (donuts) from Eritrean cuisine.

“It’s been a great experience and exciting to see how this sort of thing works on a campus. Hopefully it’s the first of many,” Griffin said.

She added that this event came at a significant time.  “We acknowledge that there is a lot going on in the world at the moment and here in Ōtautahi. We want to emphasise our commonalities. We are all people first and we have so much that we can share and learn from each other, and this is a place to do so.”

Ara | Te Pūkenga Director Safety, Health and Wellbeing, Freedom Preston, agreed, adding that in a world marked by conflict it was important to be reminded of the key Te Pūkenga values of manawa nui, manawa roa and manawa ora (we reach out and welcome in, we learn and achieve together, and we strengthen and grow the whole person.)


InCommon’s Holly Griffin and Freedom Preston from Ara |Te Pūkenga.

She said InCommon and Ara were dedicated to fostering a more just and equitable society by providing programmes and resources that facilitate connection, cultural understanding, and the development of skills needed to create positive change.

“By collaborating, we can strengthen our voice for peace and make a meaningful impact.  We must seek common ground in our diverse communities and backgrounds to share the burden of care for those in need, both at home and abroad,” Preston said, pointing to how these events build ‘social capital’.

“Finding commonalities with different cultures is a pivotal aspect of building social capital, or social cohesion. So, by connecting with others from diverse cultural backgrounds and identifying our shared values, traditions or experiences, it helps create a foundation of connection and trust.”

Supported by the Student Life Team, Wellbeing Action Group and Ara | Te Pūkenga Health Promotion ākonga, the turn out for Kai and Kōrero shows a healthy appetite for this kaupapa at Ara.