A huge effort to reduce food waste and help people in crisis

08.08.23 01:45 PM By WasteMINZ
Gizzy Kai distributed rescued kai to those affected by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Months on from the Auckland floods and Cyclone Gabrielle, we spoke to WasteMINZ members about their involvement in the immediate response and the clean up, ask them to share memories that stood out for them and learnings from the disasters. We talk to the team at Gizzy Kai Rescue, a member of the Aotearoa Food Rescue Alliance (AFRA). 

Tell us about your organisation in its BAU capacity

Gizzy Kai Rescue Charitable Trust has been operating since late 2018. 

To date we have rescued and allocated over 280 tonnes of food throughout Tairawhiti, as far north as Hicks Bay and south to Wairoa. We distribute to around fifteen community groups and have 35+ amazing volunteers. 

Rescued kai is sourced from local retail businesses, orchards and packhouses as well as through the New Zealand Food Network and other contacts.

The shelves are full at Gizzy Kai Rescue's storeroom.

What was your organisation’s involvement during Cyclone Gabrielle?

We continued to rescue and distribute kai during this time. Initially we pivoted to only distributing to Civil Defense centres whilst in emergency mode.

Once the state of emergency was cancelled, we switched back to distributing to all our regular groups and, through community connections, adopted a few more community groups.

Gizzy Kai Rescue also received and distributed items outside of our normal scope through the response period, such as gumboots , wheelbarrows and shovels.


Can you tell us about an interaction or moment that stood out for you?

It is a massive deal when the roads go out in our region and, as a food rescue  organisation, being able to step up and help move locally food that is unable to be freighted out is great. We were helping people in a crisis whilst preventing waste.

What learnings can you share with us? What surprised you, and what didn’t?

Surprises: One of the biggest challenges was losing all communications for several  days in February. We reverted to leaving written messages and making announcements on the local radio station.

All the offers of help, support and kindness from outside of our region were massive! We received baking and kai to support those with special dietary needs and food for our four-legged friends.

Not surprising:  We are really proud of our systems that enable us to be agile in times of crisis. We place value on resilience and robust processes that allow us to operate safely and efficiently under pressure.

The cyclone recovery is ongoing. What’s next for you/your organisation?

We will continue to rescue and allocate kai and keep connected in our community, reducing food waste whilst also reducing food insecurity. 

We operate seven days per week. It was really important for us to recognise the toll that the events this year has taken on all of us and so to maintain our resiliency, we made the decision to close for Matariki weekend to rest and reset. We also gathered our volunteers to share a meal and some time for reflection and connection.

Collaboration is such an important value for Gizzy Kai Rescue! Being able to work with our existing groups as well as reach out further to support others in a crisis is really important to us. We also use our connections to broker relationships between a need and a solution.

Thank you

Our gratitude for our volunteers and kai donors is massive - they stick with us even when the going is tough. We also really appreciate the faith and trust our funders put in us to utilise their inputs to make the most impact.

This is the third story in a series about the experiences of WasteMINZ members during the Auckland floods and Cyclone Gabrielle. Read the others here.