Over 300 nominations for the NZ Food Heroes Award have flooded in from all corners of Aotearoa. Nominations closed July 31, and the finalists will be announced August 31.

Diverse in nature, entries reflect the Kiwi innovation and community spirit that flourished during the COVID-19 lockdown ensuring New Zealanders had access to fresh, local produce. Many nominees provided meals for those doing it tough, as well as preventing food waste.

Nominees from around the Auckland region include everything from yoghurt, organic flour, fresh oysters and Turkish bread makers to the Rawiri Team who provided food boxes and blankets for whanau nation-wide. Red Shoots, a small group of Kiwi women, developed two new products during lockdown using ginger and turmeric from their partners, award-winning and organic Fijian farm, Ranadi Plantation.

Other heroes nominated from Tamaki Makaurau include Fair Food, whose staff and volunteers rescued tonnes of food from restaurants and cafés that would otherwise go to waste and delivered it to West Auckland organisations in need. In April, they rescued the equivalent of 348,000 meals!

The campaign was launched by the New Zealand Food Awards in place of their usual programme as a way for Kiwis to show their appreciation and support for the numerous ‘heroes’ across all sectors of the food and beverage industry who have to keep our hunger at bay.

Regional foodies rock

The geographical spread of nominees reveals flourishing innovation in our regions. Among them are Mt Manganui’s Solomons Gold, makers of handcrafted chocolate using single-origin cacao from Solomon Islands growers. A wide variety of businesses includes Foxton’s Petal and Bee Grocers and wholefood store, which continued to deliver during lockdown; and South Island Black Estate winery restaurant, which pivoted to make delicious pies served outdoors.

2018’s New Zealand Food Safety, Food Safety Culture Award Winner, Pic’s Peanut Butter have also been nominated. The company has been noted for its kindness to its staff by giving them care packages and Easter eggs. It also supplied products to 500 families in the Nelson and Tasman districts in need of food, as well as teaming up with other local and national companies to give away 3000 packs to frontline healthcare workers.

Waste not – care and kai

All over New Zealand people joined together to create new groups or join existing organisations, charities and local marae as volunteers to make, harvest or collect and re-distribute food to those in need. Gizzy Kai Rescue (Gisborne); Ngati Porou Seafoods Group; Katikati Community Services COVID-19 Response Group; Auckland’s Everybody Eats NZ (feeding bellies, not bins); Palmerston North’s Just Zilch and Tasman-based Meat the Need are just a few examples of Kiwis nominated as ‘food heroes’ for addressing the needs of their community with kindness, care and kai.

Massey University’s National Events and Sponsorship Manager, Kelly Douglas says, “The New Zealand Food Awards, Massey University and our partner network have been amazed by the efforts of our community to help Kiwis and businesses survive this challenging time, and we believe they deserve recognition.”

The finalists will be announced 31st August, with a celebration and winners announcement on October 8, 2020.


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