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Fizz-free festival commended

The Health Promotion Forum of NZ has commended Waka Ama New Zealand for sticking to its fizzy drinks ban at its national championship festival this week. First established in 2000, this year will be the 30th year for the festival, and its sixth year as a ‘fizz free’ event. As many as 10,000 people from all corners of New Zealand and the Pacific Islands have converged on the shores of Lake Karāpiro for the event which runs from January 15 – 19. HPF Deputy Executive Director and Maori strategist Trevor Simpson said, “seemingly small interventions can have far-reaching results. In a way what we are seeing is a reinstitution of the cultural norm of wai as the basis for life and wellbeing. We congratulate Waka Ama Aotearoa for their leadership and support for the fizz-free kaupapa.” Janell Dymus-Kurei, General Manager of Hāpai Te Hauora which has a regional public health team at the event said the event was a great example of leadership in Māori health. “The organisers have shown a strong commitment to oranga tinana through the promotion of physical activity which is embedded in te ao Māori. Through the adoption of a ‘fizz free’ stance, the festival also highlights the importance of the availability of water – wai Māori – to all whānau across the motu.” The event also comes at a time when the role of sugary beverages in poor health outcomes are again being questioned. The New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) has called for sugary drink manufacturers to be forced to label their products with a teaspoon icon to clearly show how much sugar is in each beverage “We support this call by the NZDA for better labelling of beverages,” says Selah Hart, and HPF board member. “As a signatory to the NZDA-led consensus statement on sugary drinks, we appreciate the importance of good information for whānau when it comes to making choices about food and drinks.” Photo provided by Hāpai Te Hauora