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Feeding Bellies, Not Bins: Food Waste and NZ Food Systems: Te Whanganui-a-Tara - April 2023

“Food is about community, about sharing, about showing respect to others and to kai.”

Access to nutritional kai is a basic human right, however our current food systems in Aotearoa are profit driven, not people driven. Despite food waste being the 3rd largest producer of carbon emissions, too many New Zealanders do not have access to basic nutritional meals. With the cost of food rapidly rising, how can we ensure good produce is accessible to all and not wasted?

For our second Te Whanganui-a Tara event of 2023, we partnered up with Everybody Eats to host a three course meal paired with a wonderful line up of speakers. We explored the food systems and food waste in Aotearoa and what change we can make on a personal and systematic level.

Everybody Eats Wellington Manager, Jack Rainey helped to organise and introduce the event, with the delicious meal being created and prepared by their head chef El Robbins. Between each meal we heard from our amazing speakers; Esther Lewis from Seeds to Feeds, Ali Kirkpatrick from Kaibosh Food Rescue, Tessa Acker from Te Whatu Ora National Public Health Service and Deputy Mayor Laurie Foon.

Esther started us off sharing her experience as a small business owner and the constant struggle of balancing cutting costs and producing more environmental/sustainable products. Esther further shared ideas on how we can re purpose our left over food and highlighted the work Seeds to Feeds does to educate and enable others.

Ali opened her discussion with staggering figures of how much food doesn’t even enter the food system, with 1/3 of food production not even making it from paddock to freight. She outlined Kaibosh’s purpose which is to minimise food waste acting as an intermediary between food producers and food charities. In 2022 Kaibosh rescued 7,007,508 kg of food, that’s over 2 million meals in Wellington.

Tessa spoke to the current power imbalance in our food systems and the need for community driven food systems with sustainable food production. The current imbalance can be reflected by the number of food producers in Aotearoa today, approximately 900 in 2023 compared to around 24,0000 in 1986. We also explored the double edged sword of food production being both a victim of climate change while also a significant contributor.

We finished our kōrero hearing from Laurie Foon who talked to the Te Anamata ā-Kai o Tō Tātou Tāone, the council’s Action Plan for a sustainable, equitable, healthy, and resilient food system in Pōneke. She discussed how we need a system shift and re-imagine the city and using our land differently with a focus on enabling a lively and prosperous local food economy.

How to take the kaupapa forward:

With currently 30% of Wellington landfills being filed with food waste it’s time for us to take action to be part of creating a more sustainable food economy and abolishing food poverty in Aotearoa.

In your own household

Become a food waste champion! Educate yourself on how you can reduce your own food waste and encourage others to do the same

  • Plan your meals

  • Get creative with leftovers

  • Compost

  • Know your ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates

Keep yourself educated and up to date

  • Sign up for the NZ Food Waste Champions newsletter to receive the latest stories, news and updates on food waste action around Aotearoa NZ. More info here:

In the community

Support local not-for-profit organisations that focus on reducing food waste.

  • Volunteer your time

  • Join the team of volunteer servers at Everybody Eats or help reduce and sort food with Kaibosh

  • Donate food or funds

  • Engage with your local council about food systems, food waste and food sustainability


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