International nutritionist visiting Massey

Press Release – Massey University

Thursday, February 22, 2017

International nutritionist visiting Massey

A leading nutritionist who specialises in indigenous peoples’ food systems, is visiting Massey University for five weeks to partner on a project with the School of Public Health.

Fulbright Specialist Professor Harriet Kuhnlein from the University of Hawai’i in Manoa and McGill University, Canada, began her work with Massey on Monday. Based in Wellington, she will also visit the Manawatū and Auckland campuses to meet with staff and give seminars.

Nutrition and Food Systems Professor Barbara Burlingame from Massey’s College of Health says, “It is a privilege to host Professor Kuhnlein. I am excited about her time here, as she will share her experiences with indigenous peoples and their unique food systems from other parts of the world with our students, academic colleagues, and professionals in the nutrition, health and agricultural sciences areas.”

Professors Kuhnlein and Burlingame have worked together over the years on research and interventions, characterising traditional food systems, ecosystems and agro-ecological zones for sustainable diets, informed by, and for the benefit of, indigenous peoples.

Professor Kuhnlein has always wanted to explore New Zealand. “I am delighted to learn about the treasures of the unique and delicious foods of the Pacific region, and to learn with colleagues at Massey about how they can be used for health benefits of the Māori and Pasifika peoples. This is my first time in New Zealand, and I am looking forward to the entire experience.”

Biography: Dr Harriet V Kuhnlein, BS, MS, PhD, LL D (hon), FASN, FIUNS

Professor Harriet Kuhnlein is a nutritionist and Founding Director of the Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment and Emerita Professor of Human Nutrition at Montreal’s McGill University. She is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences of the University of Hawai’i in Manoa.

Dr Kuhnlein received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and holds an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Western Ontario. She was a Professor at the University of British Columbia before joining McGill University in 1985 as Director of the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition.

Dr Kuhnlein’s research uses a participatory approach with indigenous peoples and spans more than 40 years. Recently she directed a Global Health Research initiative involving 12 cultures in different parts of the world, to provide evidence that biodiversity inherent in traditional food resources of indigenous peoples fosters food security and good health, and should be environmentally protected.

Dr Kuhnlein chaired the Expert Panel on the State of Knowledge of Aboriginal Food Security in Northern Canada for the Council of Canadian Academies, and she co-chairs the Task Force on Traditional, Indigenous and Cultural Food and Nutrition of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences.

Publications for background:

Kuhnlein HV, B Erasmus and D Spigelski. (2009) Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems: the Many Dimensions of Culture, Diversity and Environment for Nutrition and Health. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Kuhnlein HV, B Erasmus, D. Spigelski and B Burlingame (2013) Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems and Wellbeing: Interventions and Policies for Healthy Communities. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

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