About Toha Kai


Toha Kai’s focus is to enable equitable access to healthy, locally grown and climate appropriate kai while aiming to develop personal skills, build empowerment and strengthen rangatiratanga, kaitiakitanga and manaakitanga.

Toha Kai will do this by:

  • Working with local food producers to purchase and redistribute high quality food and food waste in order to increase its access and affordability.

  • Collaborating with local organisations to host workshops focused on cooking skills, growing produce and nutrition education; and we aim to interact with social services in the Woolston community so as to engage with whānau and individuals in need of support.

Recent research highlighted that Woolston and surrounding suburbs have inadequate geographical access to healthy food, poor quality and variety of food comparative to neighboring higher socioeconomic areas. To illustrate this it has been shown that over half of Woolston’s food outlets provide fast food.

Toha Kai intends to significantly strengthen food sovereignty within the Woolston area, while collaborating with local organisations and whānau. Outcomes include:

  • Increased access to fresh high quality produce,

  • Strengthened personal skills, food knowledge and empowerment,

  • Reduced food waste

  • And ultimately increased health and social outcomes for whānau in the Woolston area, potentially resulting in less dependence on government services.

To build upon the existing research and as the Covid-19 crisis continues to exacerbate social inequalities, Toha Kai will continue to partner with University of Canterbury to monitor and evaluate the food sovereignty of our community. This will allow us to continually assess how we build social, cultural and economic resilience for those experiencing poverty in our community.

about toha kai

The Team

Copyright Neil Macbeth

Michael Reynolds


Kia ora Toha Kai whanau...I'm Michael

I am a co-founder of Toha Kai, as well as being founder & Kaitiaki of Roimata Food Commons.

I have a passion for developing food sovereignty and increasing the accessibility of local, healthy food...I also love to empower people to increase their sense of wellbeing….

The natural world fascinates me...I love discovering relationships and connections...as well as experimenting with different types of nutrient rich kai

I am always up for a yarn...you will find me at Roimata Food Commons on Wednesday and Friday mornings

Jen Pomeroy

Head Chef

Kia ora, I'm Jen

I'm super passionate cooking and eating and about helping people cook well to eat well. Seasonality is my thing and I love packing my recipes with loads of vegetables and flavour. 

I'm a chef by trade and now I run a recipe subscription with a seasonal focus while also being a stay at home parent. 

My husband and I love gardening and have our own wee garden full of edibles. We love a project! We get the kids involved too and they love it. 

I'm looking forward to running some more community cooking lessons this get with Toha Kai, we all enjoyed them so much. 

Find out more about what I do @the.modern.mess or www.themodernmess.co.nz 

Meagan Columbus


Hello! I’m Meagan, another of Toha Kai’s founders  Staying healthy, both mentally and physically, is really important to me. My hope is that through our initiatives we’re able to remove some of the obstacles that get in the way of people making healthy choices

Working with local businesses and strengthening connections are crucial aspects of long term change in our community  If we can reduce food waste at the same time, then that’s a win for all!

I’m a big fan of getting out and exploring our awesome world. When home, I can often be found in my ever-expanding veggie patch

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Nina MacDonald


Kia ora  my name is Nina. I am a nutritionist, associate registered with the Nutrition Society of New Zealand. I am passionate about holistic health and wellbeing, and being able to help make this easily accessible to everyone. I have been running my own clinical nutrition business @nm.nutritionist for the past year, which I absolutely love. I am super passionate about health promotion and had been wanting to move into the field when the opportunity to work with Toha Kai popped up! so I am very excited about this new step and thrilled to be a part of the awesome team

I love exploring the port hills, beach walks and swims, improving my pottery skills and anything else arty, and growing, cooking and eating tasty kai.

Tegan McGowan


Kia ora whānau I’m Tegan, Co-founder of Toha Kai. During 2019 I was lucky enough to stumble across Michael Reynolds and Meagan Colombus and their amazing mahi at Roimata Commons. Over some weeding and mulching, tea drinking and kōrero we realised we shared values, ideas and a desire to create change. Toha Kai was grown through our Wednesday working bees and came from an increasingly urgent need for a more resilient, sustainable and sovereign food system. A need for our communities to have access to nutritious kai and nutrition education. Following the success of our 2020 pilot cooking classes with Jen from the Modern Mess, the Toha Kai crew is ready to crack into 2021.

I have a strong passion for strengthening communities and making the healthiest choice the easiest. I am an Associate Registered Nutritionist, dedicated to championing people's wellbeing while supporting autonomy and empowerment. As of January 2021, a new role in the public health sector as a Health Improvement Advisor has taken me to the sunny Bay of Plenty, predominantly working in community resilience and food systems change. Although bittersweet to leave my home in Ōtautahi and the Toha Kai whānau, I know the kaupapa is in good hands. A big mihi to the team for continuing the vision XX

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