Doing the good mahi for food rescue charity KiwiHarvest

volunteer Phillipa Jones, KiwiHarvest volunteer with a basket of fresh fruit and vegetables

Three pairs of Wānaka volunteers are doing the good mahi for food rescue charity KiwiHarvest.

Working in collaboration with the Queenstown branch of KiwiHarvest they are part of a charity that last year diverted 120,000 tonnes of food from landfill - the equivalent of 340,000 meals. That rescued food ended up on the plates of those most in need.

Every other week Kiwi Harvest volunteers Craig Sudron and Myra Vandenbergen pick up perfectly good food and household items that are surplus to the needs of our local supermarkets and deliver to local charities including Food for Love, Kahu Youth and the Community Networks Food Bank.

Craig says “At the moment we use my SUV to collect about 8-10 banana boxes full of food. Myra and I sort and weigh it and then have the joy of delivering it to charities who ensure it goes to people with genuine needs. And sadly there are more of those in Wānaka than a lot of people realise.”

Craig’s volunteering partner Myra was volunteering at the community garden Grow Wānaka when she heard about KiwiHarvest from another volunteer. “It’s such a fun Friday activity and I get a great sense of satisfaction doing a little something that is helping the world move in the direction I think it needs to.”

Wānaka couple Martin Hill and Phillipa Jones decided to join KiwiHarvest because it provided an opportunity to do something genuinely useful to decrease waste and increase sustainability.

Philippa says “We first encountered KiwiHarvest at a WAO event and we were so inspired by their cause and enthusiasm. We find the stores are positive about contributing and those on the receiving end are always grateful.”

Her partner Martin says “Food waste is damaging to the environment. With this I feel we can do something genuinely useful for both the environment and the wellbeing of our community. It’s meaningful and fulfilling.”

Barry and Kit South echo the other volunteers. “We liked that we could make a difference to someone by just giving a few hours every other week. Wānaka is an expensive place to live and there are people on the breadline. Any food donation is appreciated. The icing on the cake is that we are keeping food out of landfill.”

All these volunteers speak positively about their involvement in KiwiHarvest and they are committed to seeing the organisation thrive in Wānaka.

There are still plenty of opportunities for KiwiHarvest in Wānaka - engagement with more suppliers including cafes and restaurants, purchase of a van or truck committed to Wānaka, more community education and, as the charity grows, more volunteers.

Gary Hough Branch Manager for the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago KiwiHarvest says, “A year ago we only had the resources to visit Wānaka once a week, now thanks to these eight amazing volunteers we do collections twice a week saving a huge amount of food going to landfill. They have stepped up with their time and even volunteered to even use their own vehicles. They are a credit to their community.”

KiwiHarvest began as a food rescue charity in Dunedin.Today five branches around the country are engaged in collecting and redistributing over 8 million kilos of food that would otherwise go into landfill. This food ends up on the plates of the 40% of New Zealanders who currently experience food insecurity. Contact: Gary Hough,

Story by Juliette Hicks for Volunteer South and KiwiHarvest.
Photo shows volunteer Phillipa Jones, KiwiHarvest volunteer.