At the Tindall Foundation, there are many valuable lessons we’ve gained over the years and now even more so, as we navigate our way through a global pandemic. A stand-out learning for us though, is that together, you can achieve so much more.

There was no better example of this than just a few weeks back when one of our fabulous Trustees learned that 25,000 Easter eggs were not able to be sold through The Warehouse channels due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Alongside Sam Morgan’s foundation, we had been working with Kiwi Harvest on expanding their capacity to collect and distribute bulk amounts of rescued food to a range of community organisations and foodbanks. By redistributing excess food, it also reduces the negative impacts of food waste on our environment. We connected Tindall Foundation Trustee, Rukumoana Schaafhausen, with Kiwi Harvest. Ruku is Chair of Waikato-Tainui – the tribal authority that represents 76,000 tribal members. Waikato Tainui Iwi’s staff and volunteer base were already delivering over 1000 food parcels to whanau across the Waikato, so Ruku was very aware of the extra challenges the pandemic was creating for whanau in some of our more remote communities.

On the Thursday before Easter, Ruku arranged for a bulk delivery of food from Kiwi Harvest to Waahi Marae in Rahui Pokeka (Huntly) who were operating a Kai Distribution Hub for approx. 600 whanau across 18 Marae. Easter eggs from The Warehouse were part of the delivery. A further 25,000 Easter Eggs were delivered to Marae across Thames, Hamilton, Taupo, Tokoroa and Te Kuit in time for Easter.

Ruku says that she was aware that in times of crisis many families and whanau won’t go to food banks or food distribution centres for fear of being judged. “We need to appreciate the stigma that surrounds queueing for food. The processes that Iwi have set up for their volunteer base to deliver essentials to family and whanau helps honour the mana of those in need at a very stressful time”.

The Kiwi Harvest food delivery to Waahi Marae was the pilot for a national roll out of a new rescued food initiative by Kiwi Harvest – the NZ Food Network. Over the next few weeks that network will be in place and able to distribute bulk rescued food throughout the country. It will now include a large number of Iwi-Maori organisations and Marae.

In Ruku’s eyes, the real champions of this story are Iwi and Marae leaders – they have created the network and processes to mobilise their volunteer base. They organise storage facilities, pack food and arrange delivery to urban and rural addresses far and wide – sometimes at their own personal cost in a way that preserves the pride and mana of families and whanau in need at this time.

Many grateful whanau didn’t know who to thank for the unexpected Easter treat, but the reality is there is no one person. It’s the collective work of many like-minded people breaking down barriers and working together to serve a greater purpose for the needs of each other.