Kera Sherwood-O’Regan, Community Engagement Advisor, Hāpai Te Hauora

In January 2017, Hāpai Te Hauora launched the “Fizz Free Whānau Challenge” to engage whānau in the healthy lifestyles kaupapa by taking an online pledge to go without fizzy drinks, sugar sweetened beverages, or to go totally sugar free throughout the month of January and beyond. Our approach recognises the importance of whānau support in creating sustainable lifestyle changes, and the central role that whānau play in Māori communities, but also provides avenues for community leadership and social change.
While the challenge itself capitalised on the tradition of New Years’ Resolutions, “ditching the fizz” for 30 days provided a starting point for whānau to not only change their own consumption, but to take leadership in facilitating healthy lifestyles within their wider communities, and to contribute to a broader discussion about healthy lifestyles and the development of healthy public policy. 

As a pilot programme with minimal funding, we learned important lessons in designing effective digital activations; converting online momentum into long-term wider community change; being agile and responsive in the face of a fast-paced digital campaign; and measuring success in the world of likes and shares.

In Fizz Free Whānau 2.0 we are working to capture the momentum from our digital engagement, and translating this into sustainable solutions within our communities through local community champions; community groups; and our Whānau Whanui Collective, which advances public health and continues the legacy of our tūpuna by creating environments in which whānau and communities thrive.

In this kōrero we’ll share some of our key learnings from our pilot, as well as some of our future aspirations and how you can be involved in this exciting project.