Toi Tangata responds to McDonalds’ te reo Māori menu by challenging healthy food outlets to follow the lead of Ngati Kahungunu

Toi Tangata commends the efforts by Ngati Kahungunu to normalise te reo Māori in everyday settings, but highlights the need for a wider conversation to be had amongst Iwi, Māori organisations and Māori communities around normalising its use in outlets like McDonalds.

As advocates for positive health,Toi Tangata stands behind using Māori culture and language to promote hauora and wellbeing and welcomes discussion on the role of te reo Māori in the advocacy and achievement of hauora.

Toi Tangata CEO, Megan Tunks, questions the promotion of te reo Māori at unhealthy establishments such as McDonalds.

“We recognise that having spaces where we can practice and normalise te reo Māori is both absolutely necessary and desired, but in the face of a franchise and product which we know has a negative effect on many of our people and our taiao, we need to make more conscious decisions on the impacts on our oranga. It is our obligation as an organisation is to ensure whānau are informed of healthier eating options and the negative impact of food outlets such as McDonalds.  

“There is a need to be more intentional in our messaging when the odds are constantly stacked against tamariki, whānau and communities. Protecting them from overexposure to junk food marketing around unhealthy food and beverages is a societal responsibility. We need to strike the balance between normalising our beautiful language and ensuring it is used in a positive and uplifting way. Initiatives, such as the recent Poitarawhiti tournament in Auckland which was conducted entirely in te reo Māori attracted over 600 students from kura kaupapa and mainstream schools, affirms the interest exists.”

Toi Tangata welcomes the opportunity to tautoko approaches that weave language revitalisation with oranga Māori and invites healthy food outlets to follow Ngati Kahungunu’s lead and incorporate more reo Māori.

“There is a growing need to look at more opportunities to increase healthy, supportive kai environments which promote and grow te reo Māori. McDonalds is a global entity, we should be looking at how we support our Māori economy, including our local Māori social enterprises that promote healthy kai. Let’s look at the role of reo in hauora and at efforts that uplift healthy kai- kai fresh from our atua with enhanced mauri.

Successful Māori examples of healthy kai businesses include the Kākano cafe in Otautahi and Koha Kai in Murihiku. Both promote healthy kai, and teach whānau the mātauranga around it.

“There are conversations to be had on how we reclaim our own mātauranga around kai practices, such as the promotion of maramataka and maara kai and how we advocate for and encourage food sovereignty and security amongst our whānau, hapū and Iwi.”

Hastings McDonalds yesterday became the first in the country to introduce bilingual menus, written in both English and Māori, with plans to roll it out to all McDonalds restaurants in Hawke’s Bay.


For more information contact
Megan Tunks, CEO Toi Tangata 022 658 5215
Crystal Pekepo, Toi Tangata Kaiārahi 027 387 4751