With little of the homemade Pacific brew available in Australia, prices have skyrocketed, and there’s been a spike in seizures at the border.

The questions are asked quietly, but urgently: “Kava, do you have any? Do you know where to get any? Have you heard what they are paying for it in Sydney?”

When Pasifika meet in Australia, it is often kava that dominates: now, it is the absence of it.

The traditional brew, made from the kava plant and central to so many of the Pacific’s social interactions, is in vanishingly short supply, an unlikely, unhappy, corollary of Covid shutdowns.

And the shortage is harming businesses across the region.

Kava—usually brackish, bitter and mildly euphoric—is made by crushing the roots and rhizome of the kava plant, and mixing the powder with water.

It is drunk, as Faonetapu Takiari, president of Pasifika community group the United Nesian Movement, told the Guardian, whenever Pasifika gather.

“Kava is present at nearly every Pasifika occasion from formal ceremonies to social gatherings and used as a medium to share our culture, carry out traditions and promote social cohesion through talanoa [conversation]”.

Please click here to read the full “Calls for a Covid ‘kava bubble’ as supply from Pacific to Australia dries up” article published at Guardian, written by Griffith Asia Institute, adjunct researcher, Tess Newton Cain.