KaiGo lifts off

Community activator Alan Maxwell, MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan, MP Angie Warren-Clark, Katikati Taiao manager Sharaine Steenberg and KaiGo project lead Michael Mills

Katikati has a new food redistributor – KaiGo, designed to address a need for those who are suffering from income or food poverty in the community.

“On the surface, Katikati is quite an affluent, comfortable, coastal community that is underpinned by a very robust horticultural sector, however, during the pandemic the communities’ needs really came to the surface,” says KaiGo project manager Michael Mills.

“There’s many people here that need just a little bit. It’s not a few people needing a lot,” says Katikati Taiao community activator Alan Maxwell.

“These people are one day a week short of food, unlike people who typically go to foodbanks that are in need of a weeks’ worth.”

KaiGo launched on Monday, June 13, as Katikati Taiao’s latest project, where it began collecting spare food from the local Katikati Countdown.

“We work as a broker. We collect surplus foods and distribute it to community organisations are providing meals, giving food parcels, or delivering to people,” says Michael.

“The reception has been great, but they keep asking us: ‘can we have a whole lot more please’.”

Michael says the food redistributors in Katikati are in high demand.

“There are pockets of people living in substandard or overcrowded housing, there’s income and food poverty, and that is not for people who have nothing, but it is for the working poor too.”

Alan says the preparatory work for KaiGo began in November last year, after a ‘food hui’ was held to see if members of the community were interested in becoming a potential collaborator.

“We had plenty of people show up to support it which gave us the signal it was something definitely worth pursuing.”

Alan adds the food hui was set up initially to think forward into the future.

“It was becoming apparent food security and food poverty was going to become an issue along with the rising cost of living.”

Fast-forward eight months of building relationships - and KaiGo is providing food for the Katikati Christian Foodbank, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tamawhariua, Kurakai, Katikati College’s students in need, and the Katikati community centre for their various initiatives.

“We’re really just scratching the surface,” says Michael.  

“The biggest plea we would put out now is for more donor groups to come forward. We will take goods from businesses, orchards, pack houses, growers, and retailers. Anything that can be supplied.”

Michael says people who have extra or unused food can also donate to KaiGo.

“Part of this project is to also reduce any waste in the community and to redistribute any unused foods.

“It’s a social solution to an environmental problem.”

“We’re doing on average half a tonne of food per week. We could easily do three times that and still have not met all the need,” adds Alan.

To make a contribution to KaiGo, Michael suggests contacting him on: 027 493 7322 or alternatively by email at: Michael@Kaitkatitaiao.org. For more information on KaiGo visit the Katikati Taiao website: katikatitaiao.org/

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