Two years ago, a small pocket of land three kilometres from Auckland’s international airport became the most prominent site of a struggle by Māori, New Zealand’s indigenous people, to reclaim land confiscated by the crown more than 150 years ago. Ihumātao contains evidence of New Zealand’s first commercial gardens, where thousands of hectares were planted with kumara, a tropical sweet potato which thrived in the warm and nutritious soil. The adjacent stonefields, today a category one Unesco heritage site, are rich with ancient nurseries and storage pits. When William Hobson, then-governor of New Zealand, founded Auckland in 1840, the produce of Ihumātao sustained the growing population.
Working in sustainability, one understands that context is key. When we fail to identify or understand the nuanced, complex, systemic and local context of a situation, the best-intentioned solutions simply won’t solve society’s most pressing problems. The first economic model I came across which offered an effective, modern context for our planet was the doughnut, developed by acclaimed economist and author, Kate Raworth. To inform the local context for sustainability, I felt New Zealand needed a doughnut of its own. I have been to too many meetings held to discuss issues affecting minority groups (Māori, Pasifika, women, children) without them at the table.