NZ Food Waste Champions 12.3 – Kai Commitment - Impact story

“As New Zealanders, we would hate to know how much [food] waste there is so this is about fundamentally reversing something that just does not sit within New Zealand culture.”
Former Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern – speaking at the launch of Kai Commitment

One third of food produced globally is wasted. This is equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes of food that is never eaten.  When food is thrown away, it can produce harmful emissions in landfill.  It also wastes the energy, fuel and dollars that went into producing it in the first place.

Jacinda Ardern at Kai Commitment launch
Former Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern – speaking at the launch of Kai Commitment.

And the wasteful situation within industry is mirrored at home. In New Zealand, 157,398 tonnes of edible food are thrown into household bins each year. This typically ends up in landfill and can produce approximately 409,234 tonnes of carbon-equivalent emissions annually.

Our attitude to food has become unnecessarily disposable and in considering the statistics it’s unsurprising then that reducing food waste has been ranked as the third best global solution in addressing climate change. This is a powerful motivator for action and the greatest gains in reducing food waste start with addressing industry systems.

Having researched international responses to the problem, New Zealand Food Waste Champions 12.3 Charitable Trust (NZFWC 12.3) was launched in March 2020 with the ambition of radically reducing food waste and the associated environmental impacts. Kai Commitment is a voluntary agreement between leading food business in Aotearoa who have committed to measuring and reducing their food waste and associated emissions. It is the start of something big and a sign that businesses are seeking to tackle the issue proactively.

It was the opportunity to catalyse a system change in the way we manage and measure food waste that inspired Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation to back NZFWC 12.3 and the Kai Commitment. The impact on the climate is clear – food waste is a big problem that can be solved through achievable actions. The road leading up to Kai Commitment has required broad and sophisticated discussion. Ultimately, everyone wants to do the right thing but it has been difficult to know where to start.

NZFWC is to be the independent convenor of a national, co-designed and industry-led agreement using internationally proven framework where food businesses will:

  • Set common food waste target(s);
  • Measure and record food waste data; and
  • Take action to extend their food waste reduction initiatives above business as usual.
  • Collaborate on food waste reduction across the supply chain.

Kaitlin Dawson is leading the initiative at NZFWC with support from Miranda Mirosa, Director of the University of Otago Food Waste Innovation Research Theme, and Deborah Manning, Founder of Kiwi Harvest and NZ Food Network. Both are NZFWC 12.3 Board Members.

Kaitlin brings a long-standing passion for reducing waste and believes the success of Kai Commitment will come from teamwork. “Food waste is a design flaw, it occurs at every stage in the process which is why collaboration from across the sector is not only desired, but also necessary. The programme and vision we have for a future where collaboration is the norm, will mend the breakdowns from farm to fork. We are confident that if food waste can be designed in, it can be designed out and will achieve environmental and economic value.”

The Kai Commitment will support the individual food waste reduction actions of each signatory, encourage collaboration and innovation, and evolve into a community of best practice to build sector capability. The launch of Kai commitment occurred in November 2022 at signatory Fonterra’s Auckland office. Goodman Fielder, Countdown, Silver Fern Farms, Foodstuffs, AS Wilcox and Nestle were also in attendance as committed business, and New Zealand’s then Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern gave the main address. Kai Commitment is off to a solid start in helping NZFWC 12.3 achieve their goal of halving food waste in Aotearoa by 2030.

The vision of NZ Food Waste Champions 12.3 (NZFWC 12.3) is He Taonga Te Kai – an Aotearoa where food is valued, not wasted. Their mission is to progress SDG Target 12.3, to end food loss and waste across the New Zealand food system.

By the numbers

As at March 2023


target year to halve food waste in New Zealand


businesses signed up


our investment

Te Kiwi Māia - Impact Story

“It is my role to help people remember the fallen. But I want to do all I can help our first responders and military service personnel, so that they are supported in their recovery when they’re impacted in the line of duty. It is the least we can do when they knowingly give so much of themselves.”
Rebecca Nelson, Co-Founder – Te Kiwi Māia and Official Singer of the Royal New Zealand Navy

Who is looking after the wellbeing of those who look after us? From minor accidents to natural disasters, nearly all of us will, at some point in our lives, call for help. Our emergency first responders – be they Police, Fire and Emergency, St John’s Ambulance, Coastguard, Navy or Army – all work towards a shared primary goal of helping people and saving lives.

The individual jobs can look quite different, but for those on the front line it will involve interacting with people in their darkest hours. Exposure to someone else’s trauma leaves a lasting impression, because as humans we are not immune to the suffering of others. Training prepares people for the theory of a thing, but the physical and mental impact from responding to crisis or conflict can go beyond the realms of theoretical comprehension.

An aspect of building resilient communities is creating support systems that consider all of us. Including those who dedicate their careers to supporting others. In the UK, an example of this is Help for Heroes, a charity set up to care for retired servicepeople who are suffering the physical and mental effects of war and crisis. Until recently, nothing like that existed in Aotearoa.

Rebecca Nelson is a reservist and official singer of the Royal New Zealand Navy. Over the years, she has made many friends who work on the front lines, and she has made it her mission to see that people are supported and help is offered. This goes beyond the Navy to all to first responders who, for example, may have been digging through the rubble of earthquakes, searching for survivors at sea, responding to accidents on our roads or even managing 111 calls from desperate Kiwis.

“As a singer I celebrate and raise awareness of the work of our military and first responders, but I needed to do more,” says Rebecca. In 2019 she joined forces with friends and colleagues Megan Mashali and James Burt to co-found Te Kiwi Māia, with the aim of working with public services to identify employees who have been exposed to major trauma through their work. And then to provide psychological, physiological and cultural therapy.

“We spent the first year recruiting people onto our Advisory Board. This means all the emergency services are represented alongside specialist skills in health, governance, finance and legal expertise. Then we started designing our recovery retreats. Access to nature is a big part of that and in 2022 we ran our first programmes, which as seen 24 people get the help they needed. And that is both physical and mental support.”

In the early days of 2019, Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation connected with Rebecca over a coffee to discuss goals, pathways and set-up costs. It was clear that there was a gap in the system. The wrap-around support that Rebecca outlined was inspirational and as a country we are a step behind international efforts to care for those on our frontlines. With so many national and international crises unfolding, from pandemics to floods and earthquakes, our emergency responders are exhausted.

The programme from Te Kiwi Māia runs over six days and includes workshops and one-to-one sessions. Participants have access to personal trainers, psychologists, nutritionists and cultural support. Vaughan Park in Auckland’s Long Bay hosted the first gatherings in 2022. The plan, however, is for Te Kiwi Māia to have a dedicated space that is even more nature focussed.

“We are a community of first responders,” says Rebecca. “Participants arrive together and leave together, and support can be both shared and tailored throughout. Te Kiwi Māia can be holistic in the experience it provides and being close to our natural landscapes is so important for that. It is restorative, grounding and helps us to reconnect.”

Te Kiwi Māia looked at international examples of sector-based responses and created a more comprehensive support system for impacted first responders in Aotearoa. The focus is connecting people across the spectrum of emergency roles. Responding, whatever shape that takes, is the common ground.

By the numbers

As at March 2023


supported first responders




our investment

Mindful Fashion - Impact Story

“In New Zealand, approximately 45,000 tonnes of apparel is sent to landfill every year, made up of a whole range of clothing from different sources. That’s a lot of textile waste and it’s a problem because we know it releases a disproportionate amount of carbon emissions as it breaks down. Mindful Fashion has over 80 members who all believe in a more sustainable future for the industry. But, we’ve got a bigger problem in that we don’t, at a country level, have a system to deal with textile waste. This is something we are talking to the Government about addressing at a national level. ” – Jacinta FitzGerald, Programme Director, Mindful Fashion, speaking on Radio New Zealand

Each garment holds its own story; from design through to fabric creation, dyeing, cutting, sewing, finishing and selling. It can journey around the world in this time, consuming energy and water as it goes. The same items are worn less, if at all, contributing to vast quantities of textile-based landfill.

The New Zealand fashion industry faces enormous challenges to dramatically decarbonise, regenerate natural systems and reduce waste from its activities, while at the same time continuing to inspire and clothe consumers. However, there has been no clear vision for a low carbon, circular and regenerative clothing and fashion system in New Zealand and no pathway to guide the industry in this transition.

An area of particular importance for this sector is the circular economy; designing out waste, pollution, greenhouse gases, and keeping safe and clean materials in circulation. It means using new techniques to disrupt and improve supply chains and business models, and investing in people and communities that can make this possible.

In response to the current state of play, Mindful Fashion designed the New Zealand Fashion Industry Climate Action Programme, which was kickstarted by funding from Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation. This led to further support from the Ministry for the Environment | Manatū Mō Te Taiao. It has been co-developed with carbon measurement and offset specialist Ekos and it is open to all of the fashion industry.

“As consumers we’re buying more clothes than ever and wearing them less than ever, and the industry is feeding these habits. So, the challenge is both to change buyer behaviour and disrupt the industry – because this can’t go on,” says Yii Petrus, Programme Director for Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation. “I have seen Jacinta take the lead in this space. She has quickly become a national spokesperson for sustainable fashion in Aotearoa due to the pace at which she has gathered support from the industry. She is collaborating with leaders who are seeking solutions and it is an inspiring movement to be part of,” says Yii.

“We know that globally the fashion industry is a huge contributor to carbon emissions. Our action-oriented programme will build capability and use collective action to drive reductions over time. This is a programme the entire fashion and textiles industry can get behind, and frankly it must if we are to meet global targets.” – Jacinta FitzGerald, Programme Director, Mindful Fashion

With support from Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation, Jacinta has worked with industry, national and international stakeholders to develop an NZ fashion industry programme and high-level roadmap, to drive climate action. She has campaigned across the sector to establish crucial partnerships and signatories and is seeking ways to incentivise participation from the wider industry.

The roadmap identifies a staged approach to climate-positive action that all players in the industry, from textile suppliers to machinists to retailers, can follow. The people, processes and channels are all touchpoints for sustainability and emissions reduction, and product stewardship is central to success. Through Mindful Fashion, members can gain knowledge and upskill in sustainability, and find ways to take action to lower their emissions throughout their supply chain with industry specific guidance and tools.

As the only industry body for the sector in Aotearoa, Mindful Fashion is uniquely positioned to drive the collaboration required to build a sustainable and thriving future for our fashion and textiles.

By the numbers

As at December 2022


workshops and events




our investment

Upside Youth Mentoring - Impact Story

“Mentoring is a circuit breaker that can be life changing for young people. Introducing a consistent and positive role model into the lives of struggling 9 to 13-year-olds gives them the hope, confidence and ambition to choose a different path.” – Jenny Horst, Chief Executive, Upside

Upside works with schools to identify young people who are showing signs of hardship or where a difficult homelife is manifesting in troubled behaviour in the classroom. This early window of intervention can make a difference to the rest of their lives.

The charity came about in 2006 through the combined efforts of co-founders John Newman, Bill Grayson and Dave Robertson. The trio carry a sustained belief that showing up for young people, through mentorship, at the early signs of trouble can give them a chance in their life that, so far, may not have had much chance at all.

Since then, over a thousand young people have been personally supported through the programme, which sees them meeting with an assigned volunteer mentor once a week for a year. It has a 90% success rate (those matches who reach 12 months in their journey together), often leading to a long-term bond.

Until 2021, income was predominantly from grants, with some individual donors, making funding uncertain and planning for the future a challenge. The organisation was growing, so achieving more reliable and diversified income was important. Broadening funding sources was a key strategic goal identified by the organisation to ensure sustainable service delivery and growth. Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation supported Upside to achieve their strategy, resulting in the recruitment of a Fundraising Manager to generate a more sustainable income stream. Rachel Clarke was hired and her skills in fundraising and marketing have changed Upside’s future.

Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation is a catalytic funder and seeks to support organisations to generate greater impact and more robust operational models. “Upside was keen to develop its income mix to provide a diverse and reliable position for planning. However, getting the funds to build this capacity is always a challenge. Fundraising for activity that is not part of a charities’ core work is hard, but we view this as strategic and a way to support the team on their journey to delivering outstanding results for disadvantaged young people.” says Carl Vink, Chief Executive of the Foundation. “We were able to provide upfront support for their initiative with progress payments during the project to support the milestones being achieved.”

The Upside team had the confidence to push ahead and recruit a fundraising role and develop their approach and strategy. The investment has paid off and they now have a broader and deeper income mix with enhanced relationships and ultimately more sustainable income streams.

For every dollar invested in Upside, $4.70 of social returns are achieved. This is according to ImpactLab, who have quantified the harm that has been avoided and the good created from Upside’s youth mentoring programme.

“Upside is also catalytic in its nature; early intervention in the lives of young people brings hope and opportunity into an otherwise darkening future. We saw a chance to uplift their work through venture philanthropy; to de-risk an investment in skills that could grow their work. It is exactly where we are positioned as a funding partner,” says Carl.

Research shows 84% of young people that Upside is working with have experienced some form of neglect, nearly all are in living in poverty, almost half have experienced violence and 33% were at risk of suicide. Understanding the situation for young people, as well as how Upside is making a difference is another important part of Rachel’s job. “By undertaking research, we can communicate what is happening in the lives of young people and how the tools and experiences we offer can support them in building a brighter future. It helps funders understand that, through investing in us, we can make a real difference together,” says Rachel.

Upside have gone on to share their programme with others, such as Springboard Community Works, who use the Upside Youth Mentoring model in their own work, bringing even more positive options into young lives.

For every dollar invested in Upside, $4.70 of social returns are achieved. This is according to ImpactLab, who have quantified the harm that has been avoided and the good created from Upside’s youth mentoring programme.

By the numbers

As at January 2023


annual volunteer hours


young people reached


our investment

Auckland Climate Festival - Impact story

“It is predicted that we will exceed our city’s allocated carbon budget within the next five years under the current scenario. This means, to secure a safe city for future generations and ‘play our part’ on the global stage, we must radically accelerate impactful change across our whole society within this time period. One of the successes of the festival is the ability to bring different parts of society together to help drive and amplify this change together.”
Michelle Kennedy, Founder – Auckland Climate Festival 

As Aotearoa’s most populous region, it is the citizens, businesses and communities of Tāmaki Makaurau that will determine the region’s – and ultimately much of the country’s – ability to create a climate-resilient future. The Auckland Climate Festival has shown that those living, working and studying here are up for the challenge. Many are, in a diversity of ways, better understanding their current impact and looking at ways to embed regenerative behaviours.

When Michelle Kennedy returned to her homeland, having worked on London Climate Action Week, she brought with her the ambition to create the same powerful platform in Auckland. Inspiring Kiwis to engage in tackling the greatest issue facing our world and bringing hope into a space that is dominated by narratives of doom and gloom. 

Michelle founded Auckland Climate Festival in 2021 and Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation was right there with her. Getting behind her passion, helping ignite her idea and supporting her both financially and strategically to see more than 70 events take place over several weeks in October. Despite the need to pivot to online gatherings in response to further lockdowns and a year of disruption, people connected. A year on, the number of events nearly doubled with the social energy returning to the room as people met in person in October 2022. 

A diverse menu of opportunities for participation, that speak to schools, whānau, businesses and individuals, means there is something for everyone to be inspired by and feel empowered to act on. People have been invigorated at events hosted by community groups talking about composting and food resilience, businesses collaborating and designing low-carbon systems for the corporate world, restaurants delighting diners with sustainable foods, and climate activists raising issues such as how Aotearoa can welcome climate refugees as a result of sea level rise in the Pacific.  

The partnership between Michelle and the Foundation is far more than a transactional funding relationship. The critical need at the beginning was for catalytic funding to help establish the project and support the operational team to build momentum. The Foundation’s support came in the form of an initial grant, impact loan and strategy support. Yii Petrus, Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation’s Programme Director, stepped into a strategic role on the festival’s board. This gave Michelle and her team access to planning advice and connections with the financial, technological and marketing skills to bring about a robust framework for the festival.

“I have been hugely impressed with Michelle’s determination and commitment. She has worked relentlessly to realise her vision for the festival and backing her has been a privilege. In just two years I have seen a community of climate leaders grow around Michelle, setting in motion an accessible, educational and hopeful movement,” says Yii.  

By the numbers

As at October 2022




people reached


our investment

Live Ocean - Impact Story

The ocean is a life support system for our planet – it provides 50% of our oxygen, has absorbed 90% of the extra heat we have produced, and can host thriving ecosystems of marine life. But climate change is affecting what’s above and below the waterline. Our oceans are changing, they’re heating up, becoming more acidic, and are at a tipping point.

Aotearoa is an ocean giant. We have the fourth largest ocean space in the world, but we only protect 0.4% of it. As guardians, it’s our role to look after, protect and restore it so that life can flourish.

Having seen first-hand through their sailing careers the interconnectedness of the world through the ocean, and realising the critical need to look after it, in 2019 sporting legends Peter Burling and Blair Tuke founded Live Ocean Foundation. It partners with exceptional New Zealand scientists, innovators and communicators to scale up action for a healthy ocean.

An example of research taking place is the documenting of kelp forest loss in Tīkapa Moana, the beautiful Hauraki Gulf. Beneath the surface the ecosystem is in crisis. A key tohu or indicator is the kina barrens that have become prevalent where kelp used to thrive. Live Ocean Foundation is supporting research into the significance of kelp forests and their regeneration. This research is led by Dr Nick Shears and Dr Caitlin Blain from the University of Auckland. The research is looking at how we can protect and restore coastal areas to encourage kelp forests to bloom and those ecosystems to recover. It’s also investigating how kelp forests contribute to carbon cycles, providing an exciting potential opportunity to quantify blue carbon.

“There is no option other than to act, together and with urgency to secure the ongoing health and productivity of the ocean.” – Sally Paterson, Chief Executive, Live Ocean Foundation (Speaking at the United Nations Ocean Conference, Lisbon 2022)

In 2022, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke presented a commitment of over 120 leading sportspeople and ocean communities to the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, Ambassador Thomson, at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon. This is part of Live Ocean’s work to create a platform that amplifies the voices of sportspeople – calling for better global marine protection on the world’s stage. Here, Chief Executive Sally Paterson spoke to the conference on behalf of Live Ocean Foundation, presenting its work.

Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation’s journey with Live Ocean Foundation started two years ahead of Lisbon. With the combined talents of Peter Burling, Blair Tuke and Sally Paterson on board it was clear that their strong leadership, diverse connections, experience and a shared global vision for the ocean could create much-needed kinetic action. Action that is required across government, business and communities. As an initial partner, Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation was able to provide catalytic funding to help establish Live Ocean and provide core infrastructure to set up and run the organisation.

As Founder of Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation and a keen recreational sailor, Ian Kuperus relates to Live Ocean’s mission. “The sea connects us all, we rely heavily on its prosperity and we are bound together to protect it. As a nation of voyagers and travellers who have made our home on a group of islands way out in the Pacific, our identity extends to the water as much as the land. We are all invested in its restoration, and I am inspired by the team’s urgent and considered progress at Live Ocean.”

By the numbers

As at October 2022




people reached


our investment

All Heart NZ - Impact Story

An extraordinary amount of corporate and construction, or demolition, material ends up in landfill when owners consider it to have reached the end of its useful life. It is these materials that make up the large majority of what goes into landfill, currently about 83%, but what else can we do with it?

Joe Youssef placed himself at the heart of this question and rose to the enormous challenge of repurposing and redistributing perceived ‘waste’ to those who look at it as an exceptional, life-changing resource. He founded All Heart NZ in 2016 and communities around Aotearoa began receiving office chairs and tables, storage furniture, stationary, de-branded clothing, technology, hotel linen and repurposed retirement-home furnishings. Everything, including the kitchen sink!

All Heart NZ employees come from all walks of life and Joe seeks to bring on staff who are looking for a chance, helping them to return to the workforce, for whatever reason, and gain meaningful employment. Roles are varied and have recently extended towards upcycling materials that need work before they can be redistributed, and breaking down materials into their separate recyclable parts, diverting them from landfill and extending their use.

“We have a tendency to think and act in a linear way. We extract resources to create a thing that is then sold, consumed, and ultimately thrown away. That has to stop. At All Heart NZ we don’t talk about waste, we talk about resource.” – Joe Youssef, Founder and Chief Encourager, All Heart NZ

“Businesses aren’t buildings, they are people,” Joe reminds us. As soon as a better way becomes available, people are drawn to it. Since All Heart NZ started six years ago, the All Heart NZ network of providers and recipients has grown to a level that requires minimal storage. An All Heart NZ driver will pick up and drop off all items on the same day as matches are made in advance. There is also a social enterprise stream at All Heart NZ. Items that can be repurposed or sold are taken through the retail network, All Heart Store, providing a circular solution for the resource, creating further employment, volunteerism, and training opportunities.

With All Heart NZ looking to grow further outside of Auckland, establishing its regional All Heart Store network was key. However, funding was a significant constraint. Through the partnership with the Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation, Joe has been able to explore new initiatives and grow the store network, including adding additional services to the business model, enabling corporates to strategically rethink and redesign waste out.

Having seed funders that can appreciate the vision and get behind it is absolutely critical. Joe worked closely with Carl Vink, Chief Executive of Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation, on realising the vision. “Joe is one of the leading lights in trying to change the mindset of our businesses and communities, while also providing the critical infrastructure to help organisations do better with the material they no longer need,” says Carl.

By the numbers

As at October 2022

4.4m kgs

resources recovered


community recipients reached


corporate providers reached


our investment