Kirihimete Koha campaign to feed hungry tamariki

By Taroi Black

KiwiHarvest general manager Blandina Diamond

About 180,000 New Zealand tamariki go without kai during Christmas and one organisation is determined to do something about that.

Some of those children's parents already rely on food donations from groups like food rescue organisation KiwiHarvest, which is now about to launch its first Kirihimete Koha campaign to feed whanau nationwide.

The inaugural Christmas campaign is primarily designed to raise awareness of food security in Aotearoa, KiwiHarvest general manager Blandina Diamond explains.

"We don't want them to miss out on their Christmas meal. We don't want them to line up with their children on the street waiting for a community meal."

KiwiHarvest estimates one in five Kiwi children (20%) suffer from severe to moderate food poverty. Food poverty takes many forms but the Ministry of Health ran a national survey in 2019 describing some of the factors, which include affordability (weekly), eating less, variety of food to eat, reliability, using food grants and food banks, and stress for not having enough money or special foods on social occasions.    

Many whanau use food support agencies throughout the year, with many attending a community Christmas meal such as Auckland City Mission's giant event. 

Xmas manaakitanga

Kirihimete Koha Campaign's main objective is to distribute kai to its 260 social service organisations, which then will deliver kai parcels to homes right across the country, ensuring the privacy, comfort and aroha of their homes make a special Christmas occasion. 

The public, businesses, community clubs and sports clubs have been invited to help get the food to their fellow Kiwis.  

"The thought was one Kiwi doing something special for another Kiwi was really important and so I thought about the days when rugby clubs, netball clubs when I was growing up, we use to do can drives," Diamond says.

"Their communities are important to them and they probably had members on their teams who suffered from food insecurity."

MSD's general manager service and contracts management Kelvin Moffatt says the ministry has invested $32 million over the two years to July 2022 to address additional demand on food banks, food rescue and other community food services, while supporting communities to become food secure. This includes funding of $847,800 + GST over two years for Auckland City Mission.

To reduce longer-term dependency on foodbanks, MSD has also funded 49 communities to plan for and build longer-term sustainable community food security.

Kiwi Rescue has received some funding from MSD and is due to also receive funds from the Ministry of Environment. (The food rescue organisation saves food from going to landfills while it is still good to eat.) 

Since September, Auckland-based KiwiHarvest has opened three more facilities to store food in Queenstown, Dunedin and Auckland's North Shore.