20 Dec 2011

NIWA study finds most Maori not gathering traditional kai

7:01 pm on 20 December 2011

A study by research institute NIWA has shown that Maori surveyed in two regions no longer rely on traditional food sources.

NIWA researchers started the study about four years ago to assess the risk of contaminants in traditional Maori food sources, collecting data from parts of Bay of Plenty and South Canterbury.

Project manager Dr Ngaire Phillips says Canterbury members of Te Runanga o Arowhenua checked levels of contaminates such as heavy metals or pesticides in kai, including trout, eel and flounder.

She says the data they collected showed that, in both regions studied, there was no greater risk of developing cancer through gathering and eating wild kai.

Dr Phillips says the big revelation was that not many Maori were gathering food in the traditional way.

The study found, for example, that only 13% of Arowhenua members ate fish caught in the wild.

Instead, she says, tangata whenua in the survey area were more likely to go to the shops to buy their kai or buy takeaway meals.