Regional | Fish

Gourmet fish redistributed to Northland communities

To Northland where fish farmed specifically for market to high end restaurants are instead being distributed to local communities and those in need. It comes as a result of the closure of restaurants nationwide under the level 4 lockdown.

Fish farmed as a premium product for the world market, these kingfish are instead being distributed to feed hungry families.

Pete Nicholas, from Whakaora Kai says, “Oh, hugely appreciated and slightly amazed that this is on the menu so to speak in these times. Y’know kingfish is a prized fish and it’s a special opportunity for us.”

Food Rescue are one of nine charities to receive a weekly quota of fish for the past four weeks.

Chris Ewens, from Soul Food Whangarei says, “This is an awesome godsend.  Even though we can get out there and do the meals for the homeless at the moment I've been going home each week and smoking all the fish and we still do food parcels and everything.  So yeah, some people get smoked fish in their food parcels now.”

This kingfish farm at Ruakaka is a research project run by NIWA to test the market with the first commercial scale kingfish production unit set to be built in due course.

Andrew Forsyth, NIWA Kaiputaiao Matua says, “We've been producing a few hundred kilograms of fish a week and sending them out to high end restaurants. For specific feedback from chefs and consumers about the quality of the product and it’s all been top notch.  And now we've got an opportunity to spread it around our local community and get some feedback from people who are pretty discerning about their fish, because three quarters of them go out and catch their own.”

The fish cannot be sold due to the closure of all restaurants with the decision to give them to the community rather than bury them.

Andrew Forsyth, NIWA Kaiputaiao Matua continues, “It feels great because the alternative would be to simply stop producing and we can’t do that.  Our whole operation would come to a grinding halt if we had to stop everything.  So it’s good for us, it’s good for the community. It’s good for the staff.”

Mihi Pereri Tito, of Te Parawhau says,

“This food will feed all.  Our elders taught us to care for one another no matter who we are or where we're from we must share.  So I thank Food Rescue, Northland.”

One restaurants' loss, is a Northland peoples' gain.