For the third year running, the Fizz Free Whānau (FFW) challenge challenges people to phase out fizzy drinks, by not drinking sugary sweetened beverages (SSB) and choosing to drink only wai Māori (still water) for a whole month. On the surface, FFW is a challenge to go without sugary drinks for the month of February. However, more than just a challenge, FFW takes a whānau-centred approach to awhi (care for) challenge-takers, and those struggling with nutrition, by providing ongoing support and education. We also work with our Whānau Whanui collective to support policy development in the community to prevent poor nutrition in the first place.

We believe that the answer to our people’s health problems is not to shame them, but rather to surround them with aroha and support to achieve their goals. On a larger scale, we believe that we can change the narrative around Māori being overweight, sick, unhealthy, and lazy. We know that our tūpuna were strong, fit, and healthy and that programmes that support Māori are good for everyone too- so we are pleased to support our Pasifika, migrant and other communities to also be well!

This year, our FFW team were successfully met a vast array of people from iwi and communities from all over New Zealand at various events, including Waka Ama Sprint Nationals, Waitangi Day at Waitangi, MIT Open Day, Te Matatini and Ōtāhuhu Whānau Day. Many Māori events including Waka Ama Nationals, Waitangi Day and Te Matatini chose to implement healthy food policies such as no sale of deep-fried food and fizzy drinks, as well as access to free water. The importance of having fizz free events and drinking water continues to help promote and support healthy habits in our communities, allowing us to take our health into our own hands. We were able to provide whānau with reusable drink bottles, helping to stay hydrated easier and with access to free drinking water at these events, the drink bottles were able to stay full all-day.

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