Kai Conscious

We aim to reduce food waste, connect community and encourage composting.

Why do we need to be Kai Conscious?

The Kai Conscious project was developed by the Waiheke Resources Trust (WRT) to tackle two critical environmental and social problems: food waste and food poverty.

Through Kai Conscious, WRT is changing how food and compostable waste is managed on Waiheke Island. This has resulted in more food being eaten rather than thrown away and scraps being composted rather than sent to landfill.

As an island, we receive the majority of our produce from the mainland, which in turn may have arrived in New Zealand from abroad. This adds a layer of logistics, and therefore environmental impact, to our food systems that heightens the need for households and businesses to take responsibility for reducing food waste.

Kai Conscious: food rescue, redistribution and education

  • Many local businesses have responded swiftly to a food rescue service offered by WRT, which collects produce that can’t be sold due to industry regulations. This is sent to high-needs households through community outreach partnerships. 
  • Rescued food items are also placed in a free community fridge and pantry outside the WRT’s Sustainability Centre for anyone to take.
  • A weekly cooked lunch provided by the Kai Conscious Cafe at WRT’s Sustainability Centre invites the community to enjoy a meal made with rescued food for a koha / donation. Between 50-110 people attend and Kai Conscious ideas are shared and discussed.
  • Food scraps are composted.
  • Educational events and materials are created by WRT to help people become Kai Conscious. This involves meal planning and using leftovers, composting at home and using zero waste techniques 

If you are a food-producing business on Waiheke that would like our food rescuers to collect donations from you, please get in touch.

Get Kai Conscious

kai conscious cafe

Kai Conscious Cafe

Visit the Sustainability Centre on a Friday lunchtime and join a shared lunch prepared by our Kai Conscious cooks using rescued food from stores and eateries across Waiheke. Donate what you think it is worth, or what you are able, and contribute to reducing food waste and food poverty in our community.

Community Fridge

Community fridge and pantry

The community fridge and pantry is just outside the Sustainability Centre door and it is open to all, 24/7. The Kai Conscious team stocks it with rescued food from local supermarkets and eateries several times a week. We also welcome any donations of surplus garden produce or food - pop them straight in! They are greatly appreciated by the community.

garden beds outside the Sustainability Centre flourishing with flowers, beans, tomatoes, greens

Kai Gardens

Kai Gardens is a demonstration space at the front of the Sustainability Centre where we grow edible plants in raised beds and run composting workshops. We also have a greenhouse out the back where all our seasonal seedlings are raised and sold. The project supports food resilience and education on Waiheke, providing practical skills skills in growing food at home.


Food matters

By challenging an unnecessary disposable economy we are able to reduce hunger in the community and reduce food sent to landfill that results in climate change-causing emissions. 

WRT’s Kai Conscious project is a replicable model. If all communities across New Zealand adopted this model (with support from food-producing businesses and government regarding job creation for food collection and redistribution) thousands of tonnes of landfill could be avoided and thousands of people living in food poverty would be fed.

The scale and impact of unnecessary food waste is a well-known national and international problem that requires government action and local support. WRT’s Kai Conscious project is in line with international Sustainable Development Goals and can help deliver the circular economy that the New Zealand Government has said it is working towards.

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Related resources

Prashanti pic at compost co.

Get composting

We can help you get you started at home with workshops, support and composting products including Bokashi systems and worm farms. We even sell our own compost and crushed shells for the garden. If you're a business looking to manage food scraps and compostables sustainably, we want to hear from you too. Visit the Sustainability Centre for supplies or get in touch.

      Contact us      
lots of colourful fresh produce

Food resilience initiatives

There's lots happening in the food resilience space on Waiheke. Download our PDF which summarises opportunities to get involved in your area, including contact information, social media links and locations. You'll find some of our projects on the list, as well as many more!

hands picking fresh tomatoes off the vine

Donate your surplus produce

Is your gardening going so well that you've got lots of surplus? You can pickle and preserve to your heart's content, but you can also give to the community by donating your fresh fruit, veges and herbs to the Sustainability Centre community fridge. Check out our 1-page guide on best practice for donating kai and drop-off locations.

Volunteers Love Our Wetland

Volunteers and internships

Join one of our amazing projects and  reduce food waste support our community or help restore our beautiful wetlands. There are plenty of activities to choose from and if you're more of an indoors person, there's lots going on in the Kai Conscious kitchen and WRT offices.

      Join us      

Living sustainably

Whether you are a visitor to Waiheke or a resident, life can be a little different from living in a city so we share ideas and information to help you live more sustainably and in tune with the island. We have guidance on conservation, reducing and managing waste, conserving water and connecting with your community. You can also find out how to grow food, and compost scraps.

Beloved ZWE volunteers

Workshops and events

Food waste reduction - wetland restoration - composting - volunteering - septic tank health - water sensitive design - waterless composting toilets - honey wraps - movie nights and compost cafes are just some of the workshops and events we have held, and most are free. Take a look at what's coming up in our events calendar.


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​​Ngā mihi nui

WRT Team