Lean people … abundant food: memories of whānau health and food in mid-20th century everyday life.
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This article reports the first phase of a project to develop, in participation with a Māori community, a model of health promotion to combat the impact of metabolic syndrome.
A series of hui (meetings and focus groups) were conducted with community elders to learn about the food they gathered, prepared and consumed in the mid-20th Century before diabetes became endemic. A participatory research approach was used.
Three main themes emerged: food related work, self-sufficiency and the ‘richness’ of food. Most people were lean with diets rich in vegetables, fruit and sea food, while low in red meat and processed foods. The resources of the whole community were devoted to the growing, gathering, preparation and preservation of food.
This first phase provides only a partial record; continued gathering of the stories to widen and deepen understanding of the changes to Māori communities and their health is recommended. Next is to collaboratively develop and test a Māori model of health promotion, using local knowledge to develop interventions relevant to the community. It is contended that the future of health promotion lies in the interface between medical science and the knowledge held by communities.