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Warrior gardeners empower others2 min read

May 4, 2022 2 min

Warrior gardeners empower others2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Kelly Francis had always dreamed of creating self-sufficient food systems in her community that would be easily accessible to all, so she started off by planting edible organic gardens in people’s backyards to help empower those impacted by food insecurity.


With the support of friends who shared her love for people, she went on to establish the Whenua Warrior Charitable Trust to respond to the demand for more community projects and to receive funding support. The not-for-profit organisation receives no funds from Government and relies heavily on generous donations, grants and funding support, fundraisers, and volunteers.


Whenua Warriors is made up of passionate mothers, aunties and grandmothers who support and teach the community to feed themselves, while empowering them to feed each other. They work collectively with whānau, hapu, marae, iwi, kindergartens, schools, community groups, and agencies to improve access to quality and nutritious food for all.


They offer a range of māra kai (gardening for food) initiatives, and work to preserve the cultural significance of kai essential for community wellbeing. Their very first project helped establish 132 gardens over two days across South Auckland, and they are currently working on an initiative to complete 600 gardens at the back of 600 homes.


Kelly left a high-paying corporate job to make her dream a reality, and sInce then, the movement has expanded rapidly and continues to flourish. “I have found so much more value through this work, and the whole experience has been an eye-opener for me. Mamas have been connecting communities for generations – they possess the natural ability to heal and support. It has become so much more than just growing gardens. It’s helping to address social issues and break stereotypes we have today,” she says.


Kelly would love to connect with people in the community who would be interested in growing seedlings in their home, to later donate back to the programme for planting. The next big-scale project in September will see them creating an additional 600 gardens, and the Whenua Warriors would like to thank Bunnings for their ongoing support.


To get in touch, visit to fill out a contact form, or go to to register your interest in starting your own garden