Pacific kava experts praise the cultural understanding that the New Zealand government has chosen not to restrict kava use in the country.
Meanwhile, the Australian government is urgently tightening rules on the use of kava.
Last year, Australia New Zealand Food Standards (FSANZ) agreed to amend kava’s status in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
The amendment banned takeout kava and strengthened existing regulations on how it should be prepared.
It came into force immediately in Australia.
New Zealand deferred, but the norm did not take into account the cultural importance of kava to the Pacifica community.
Australia then conducted a 12-month review of the code. They were trying to see if further changes were needed or if the fix needed to be reconfirmed or canceled.
In March, the Australian government decided to keep the changes.
Cultural Importance of Kava
The New Zealand government has confirmed that it will not maintain the proposed changes regarding the cultural use of kava.
Kava expert Dr. Apo Apollosa at the University of Waikato is delighted.
As a Pacific citizen living in Aotearoa, he said it was important for the government to recognize the cultural significance of Kava.
“Their consideration included a recognition of the cultural importance of kava to Pacific peoples as part of their cultural practices and relationships, along with the safe use of kava, and the use of kava under food safety standards. continues to be classified as a ‘food’,” he said.
Apollosa said it also means the government supports its commitment as a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This was demonstrated by recognizing the culture and practices of the Pacific peoples of Aotearoa.
The government’s decision also took into account the increased use of kava by Maori as part of their pre-migration culture, Apolloso said.
“It also supports and encourages the use of kava as an alternative to alcohol by Maori people. It has been found that 99% of the health and sociocultural effects caused by alcohol are not caused by kava. I’m here.
“This is also why it is important that the people of the Pacific have free access to kava. We try to limit the harm of alcohol in our communities.”
Aporosa has advised the Australian government on hippopotamus safety since 2008.
He said it was sad that Pacific families across Tasman weren’t taken into account when the changes were made.
“This has imposed additional barriers to access to Australian hippos.
“Additionally, these barriers in Australia continue to prevent me from posting hippos to family and friends.
“Do the math, especially given the disproportionate level of harm caused by alcohol when compared to kava.”
Vincent Arbuckle, deputy director of the Ministry of Primary Industries, said last year’s amendments were made under an urgent proposal.
“This is not the normal process of change to standards,” he said. Under the FSANZ Act, urgent proposals were reserved for issues that were urgent public health risks.
“This proposal meant that New Zealand’s Pacifica community did not have enough opportunities to address issues of cultural significance.”
Food Safety Minister Meka Whaitiri said kava is a culturally important drink for the Pafika community. Therefore the amendment is not adopted in New Zealand for cultural reasons.
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