Kai Ika project a runaway success

October 26, 2018
When two worlds collide the results can be catastrophic, when it comes to the Kai Ika project it is an outright success. In just two years over 19,000 kilos of fish parts that were previously wasted have been rescued and shared with needy families in South Auckland. Kai Ika is so successful that LegaSea and the volunteers at the Outboard Boating Club and Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae are struggling to keep up with the demand. In 2016 LegaSea worked with the Outboard Boating Club of Auckland (OBC) and Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae in Mangere to develop a programme to better use leftover fish parts after club members had removed the fillets. Those parts were destined for the landfill. Kai Ika was hatched as part of the broader FishCare scheme to minimise waste and reduce peoples’ impact on the marine environment. The OBC now collects and sorts the fish heads, frames, and offal then Marae volunteers collect and distribute the food to an appreciative South Auckland community. Since September 2016 over 19,200 kilos of this rangatira kai, or ‘chief’s food’ have been shared. The offal is not wasted either. It is separated and used as fertiliser in the Marae’s community gardens. The Marae encourages needy families to learn how to grow nourishing food as a substitute for unhealthy fast foods. At least 80,000 kumura and other vegetables have been grown and distributed by the Marae to families, community and church groups. Two years on and recognition of the project’s success is reflected in several ways. Kai Ika was recently nominated as a finalist in the Transforming Food category of the NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards 2018. Also, Westhaven, the largest marina in the country, has committed to resourcing filleting and collection stations for returning fishers with unwanted fish parts. This expansion will require a dedicated person to service the various collection points and relieve the volunteers of some responsibilities. Work is underway now to find a suitable candidate. Funding will be sought to have the necessary resources available by summer. LegaSea is grateful to all the supporters and sponsors of Kai Ika, without whom this project would not be a success. Thanks also to The Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation who recently confirmed their contribution to the cause by funding a refrigerated truck to transport the rangatira kai from the OBC and donor collection stations to Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae. Until recently, those involved in Kai Ika were distinctly separate communities struggling on their own to deal with wastage and reducing their environmental impact. By working together on this project they have proven that taking a step into another man’s world can be beneficial for everyone involved and the environment. This is conservation and utilisation at its best. Kai Ika is a masterstroke on many levels. Kia kaha team. If you want to support this ongoing effort please donate here. Do you have unwanted fish parts? If you have unwanted fish heads or frames please use the Free Fish Heads app or go online to find someone local who will gladly take them.