Māori food banks get bulk storage and distribution assistance

By Bronson Perich

Iwi, hapū and other organisations which distribute food donations but lack sufficient on-site storage or supply chain infrastructure are now able to get assistance from a newly established food distribution network.

The New Zealand Food Network (NZFN) which launched last week helps Kiwis access healthy kai. It is a not-for-profit organisation that acts as a centralised distribution hub providing food storage space in Auckland and distributing kai to communities across the country at no cost.

Gavin Findlay, NZFN’s chief executive, says the demand for food has gone up but food banks do not have the space to store large supplies of food.

He says when Covid-19 first struck,  food supplies were low but, as hospitality businesses shut down and wholesalers' sales dropped their surplus, food supplies became the means of helping the disadvantaged through lockdown. 

Although it has just started, already it is making waves. It recently worked with the Ministry of Primary Industries to distribute 650 tonnes of pork.

Working with Māori

Findlay says it has been difficult to get their kai to some communities in need but they have worked to overcome many of these issues.

“We work with over 50 Māori communities up and down the country, some extremely remote,” he says.

“Previously, we just didn’t have those connections and didn’t understand what it takes to get some surplus and donated kai into these communities.”

Developing close relationships with iwi and hapū has helped them resolve these issues and Findlay says the process is now seamless.