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Kaitaki Food Storytellers

Kaitaki Food Storytellers

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Meet our 2022 / 2023

Eat New Zealand Kaitaki

We are incredibly excited to introduce you to our Eat New Zealand Kaitaki for 2022/2023 - a collective of young future food leaders telling the Aotearoa food story.

This year we had a huge number of applications from individuals across the food system that we made the decision to welcome just over 40 next-generation individuals who have been gathered from all corners of Aotearoa.

We are grateful to have the support of our major sponsor Our Land and Water National Science Challenge who came on board last year to help us champion and facilitate this powerful and exciting project.

The cohort is led by Kate Underwood, a Kaitaki herself, she is a Freelance Food Writer and Communicator (@relishthememory) from Te Puke, who has worked alongside Angela Clifford for the last four years as the Communications Specialist for Eat New Zealand.

You'll find stories and content from our Kaitaki across various platforms including:

Read on below to meet the voices behind this incredible collective...

Te Tai Tokerau / Northland

Stefan Apiata – Cook/Food Adventurer - Ōhaeawai

Stefan aka. Stef the Maori was born and raised in the heart of Ngā Puhi, in the far north of Aotearoa. He is an outdoor cooking aficionado, kai gatherer and food adventure tourism enthusiast. A self-dubbed cheeky fulla, social butterfly, tattoo collector and creator of videos; both informative and humorous. @stefthemaori_

Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland

Sophie Merkens – Photographer/Writer

Sophie is a photographer, writer and recipe developer. She recently released her first book ‘Grow’ – a collection of interviews and photographs with 35 food connected wāhine from across Aotearoa. Sophie is happiest when food and story are at the centre of her work (and life). She is a keen gardener and an enthusiastic forager. @sophiemerkens

Michal Garvey – Food Waste Champion

Michal is on a mission to empower Aotearoa to take action against food waste. She runs the award-winning Foodprint app, a two-sided marketplace where you can purchase discounted surplus and imperfect food from local eateries to prevent it from being wasted. Foodprint currently operates in eight cities and towns across New Zealand. @foodprintnz

Kimberley Lim – Dietitian

Kimberley is a community dietitian for Te Whatu Ora – Counties Manukau. Her mahi involves giving nutrition education and counselling to patients at home. Addressing barriers to poor food security and reducing inequity for patients are two things that she is passionate about.

Perzen Patel – Cook/Writer

Perzen is an Indian food expert. The eating kind. Perzen spent years being ashamed of and confused about her food heritage until she started cooking and writing about food as a new bride. Perzen now runs Dolly Mumma, making authentic spice pastes that help us cook tasty Indian food easily. She also writes for The Spinoff telling stories that encourage us all to go beyond butter chicken. @dollymummanz

Adriana Ferdian – Restaurant Owner

Adriana is the co-owner and operator of two Indonesian restaurants in Auckland - Bali Nights and Java. Coming from a completely non-hospo background and having made a career in Product Marketing for software companies for 15 years, she only made the nerve-wracking jump into the wonderful world of hospitality a little over a year ago. She is passionate about introducing new and diverse food culture into New Zealand - and being a mother, immigrant, and proud modern Muslim woman, she brings with her a multitude of new and different viewpoints. @balinights_nz | @itsjava_nz

Ruby White – Artist/Producer

Ruby is a Chinese-Malay Hakka and Australian-Pākehā artist and producer. They work predominantly with food and ceramic to create objects and experiences that aim to foster a sense of connection and community. They believe in the transformational and healing power of food: growing, cooking and eating, as a crucial part of a sustainable and meaningful future for everyone. Ruby was the owner-operator of the pop-up dining series Miss Changy and cafe Small Fry at Te Tuhi. @rubyjetwhite

Sarah McFadden – Community Garden Manager

Sarah is the General Manager at Kelmarna Gardens in Grey Lynn and has held leadership roles in the urban farming and community gardening realm for eight+ years. In her role at Kelmarna Gardens they’re working to champion and demonstrate a regenerative local food system that supports climate change mitigation, urban resilience and community wellbeing. @kelmarna

Tom Hilton – Chocolatier

Tom is a Pâtissier and Chocolatier and owner of Ao – Te Ao Tiakarete : The World of Chocolate. His journey started in London a decade ago, training under master pâtissier and chocolatier William Curley (Master of Culinary Arts). After working in Michelin star kitchens in Europe, USA and Aotearoa, he’s now on a mission to take indigenous excellence to the world stage, through Tiakarete (chocolate). Driven to see more indigenous people within the industry he wants to help rewrite the Aotearoa Tiakarete Pūrākau (The Aotearoa Chocolate Story). Tom walks proudly with cultures side by side both Te Ao Pākehā(English, Jewish) & Te Ao Māori (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti whatua, Te Whakatōhea). @ao.cacao

Archana Kurup – Chef – Pukekohe

Archana is a chef who runs 'Eat with Me', a home based catering business, where people can also book in private meals to be cooked in their own homes in Pukekohe or at her place. Alongside she runs a bi-monthly supper club called 'the social table', where six diners eat a surprise five course dinner in her dining room at home. in Pukekohe. She moved to New Zealand nine years ago, from India, where she started her career at a hotel known for its food and innovation, where they were trained to question the norm and to expand their creativity. She strives to cook delicious food showcasing quality ingredients with her own flair. Archana previously worked at Everybody Eats and is a big supporter of their ethos, she is passionate about a future where good food is accessible to everybody. @eat.with.me.nz


Brittany Stembridge – Farmer/Grower – Mātangi

Brittany is a passionate foodie, farmer and kai grower. She is the face behind Tomtit Farm, a low environmental impact organic market garden located in the heart of Mātangi in Kirikiriroa in the central Waikato. Brittany has a background in Nutrition from the University of Otago and loves creating a connection between communities, the farmers who grow their food and the land that nourishes them. At Tomtit, alongside her husband James, they’re on a mission to increase diversity both in food and ecosystems and build food sovereignty in their community. @tomtitfarm

Ella Bailey – Farmer – Tirau

Ella and her husband James run Momona Farms, a farming business which includes sheep, beef, dairy and cropping based in South Waikato. They have a strong connection to their land and work hard to continually improve their environmental footprint. Ella has a background as a chef and believes fresh produce and paddock-to-plate protein creates health and well-being. They have two gorgeous kids, four dogs and a love for the ocean and surfing. @ellabailey_momonafarmkitchen

Iti Stafford – BBQ Pitmaster – Kawhia

Iti (Ngāti te wehi raua ko Ngāti Apakura) is the creator and team captain of Ahikā Pitmasters: An award winning BBQ team who specialise in smoked proteins. They’ve competed in some of the biggest BBQ competitions New Zealand has to offer and in 2020 were ranked third place nationally. Besides knowing his way around the NZ BBQ circuit, he loves to be at home in Kawhia, gathering kai from the Moana and living off the whenua. @ahikapitmasters

Te Moana a Toi / Bay of Plenty

Arapeta Tahana – Iwi Development - Rotoiti/Rotorua

Ko Matawhaura te maunga | ko Rotoiti te moana | ko te Kaituna te awa | tenei au he uri no Pikiaorangi | e ki a nei | ko Ngati Pikiao te iwi | ko Te Arawa te waka. I tupu ake au ki nga matakerewhanga o te Rotoiti | ki roto ki taku ao Maori | ki roto i nga tikanga o waku tupuna. Tenei ka mihi ki a koutou e korkirihia i tenei kuapapa, kia hono ano tatau ki te Maoritanga o te kai me ona tikanga whanui, kati, mauri ora ki a tatau.

Arapeta works in iwi development, strategy and leadership for kaupapa Māori. He was raised and still lives on the shores of Lake Rotoiti near Rotorua, and is passionate about te taiao and making a positive contribution to the wellbeing of our environment, culture and people. He is new to learning about maara and traditional food systems and wants to implement initiatives within his iwi, particularly food forests and a social enterprise to provide affordable kai. He is the Chairperson of Rotoiti 15 Trust (8,000ha of whenua Māori), and has been a Trustee of Te Arawa Lakes Trust for over a decade. He is heavily involved in strategic initiatives and whenua Māori governance/management across Ngati Pikiao (collectively own approx 28,000 hectares of whenua Māori).


Ruby Mulindor – Farmer - Tihoi

Ruby is a sheep and beef farmer, alongside her husband Sean and their young son Conor, they run Waihora Farm, a 142ha farm on the western side of Lake Taupō, which they bought in 2019. They milk 700 ewes, finish all lambs and fatten 140 beef cattle. Their milking ewes rear their own lambs before they are weaned and they commence milking the ewes. Ruby is passionate about sharing their story and commitment to farming the land to protect the environment, caring for their stock and adding value to the economy and their community. She’s presented in front of many large farming groups and is involved with the Farmer Time program that links farmers with urban schools to help educate children. @waihorafarm

Te Tairāwhiti / Gisborne

Dion Aupouri-Akuhata – Diver/Educator

Dion is a diver and kai gatherer who lives in Te Tairāwhiti with his partner Reremoana Sheridan and their three kids. Together they own two businesses, including; Coasty Kidds - an educational platform teaching people how to live a sustainable lifestyle through free diving and providing kaimoana for their whānau, and East Coast Kaimoana- a commercial Kina diving operation where they sell kina in shell, direct to eaters on the day it was harvested from their own vessel - allowing people the full experience of meeting the diver that gathered their fresh Kaimoana.He is a current (SSI) Free diving instructor and runs dive courses where people learn to become more confident and safer Kai gatherers. They’re also developing their own ‘diving in schools’ program called Tamariki of the Tides. @coasty_kidds


Fiona Young – Regenerative Agriculture

Fiona is an engaged advocate for regenerative agriculture, local food systems and honouring of te tiriti partnerships. She is passionate about Taiao Ora, Tangata Ora, the wellbeing of our natural world and people. She's grown and supported local, organic, nutrient dense and diverse foods for 20 years in Aotearoa and abroad. As a catalyst, convenor, community connector, project lead, coordinator and storyteller, Fiona facilitates understanding, exploration and collaboration for Regenerative Agriculture in the Taranaki region and beyond. She was born and raised in rural Taranaki on her family's dairy, sheep & beef farm. Fiona is a big picture strategic thinker who cares deeply and is dedicated to a regenerative way forward.

Siobhan Hemingway – Horticulture Student/Artist

Siobhan is an artist, designer and horticulture student with a passion for gardening and growing food. She currently lives in Ngāmotu/New Plymouth and when she’s not studying or creating, her hands are in the dirt, planting, harvesting, cooking & composting. She also works in a garden centre and loves to help out at local community gardens. Being in nature is her happy place and she believes there’s no better feeling than eating and sharing something you’ve grown. She wants to help share this joy & magic with everyone. @siobhanirisrose

Te Matau a Māui / Hawkes Bay

Conor Mertens – Chef

Conor is a cook and wine enthusiast based in Central Hawkes Bay. He currently makes sandwiches by day at Harvest Deli and cooks on charcoal at wine shops by night. He enjoys reading about food history from an anthropology perspective to better understand how food shapes culture. Earlier this year he won Outstanding Chef at the 2022 Hawkes Bay Hospitality Awards and his Auckland pop-up restaurant Chimera was named ‘One to Watch Rising Talent’ at the 2019 Cuisine Good Food Awards. @harvestdeli_


Kayla Martin – Agribusiness/Environmental Science

Kayla is a passionate food and fibre wāhine who has transferred her passion into whenua Māori and working with Māori land owners to achieve whānau aspirations. She grew up rurally and comes from a long line of shearing professionals hailing from the Rangitikei. She holds a Bachelor of Business and is currently studying a Bachelor of Environmental Science and is interested in finding ways to partner Agribusiness and te taiao in a sustainable and mana enhancing way by bringing a kaupapa Māori and whenua Māori perspective, and is looking forward to sharing this whakaaro.

Te Whanganui-a-tara / Wellington

Vergios Nikolaos Moraitis – Chef

Nikos Moraitis is a professionally qualified chef passionate about food, and has spent the last seven years in great restaurants around Wellington, including Hiakai and most recently Boulcott Street Bistro. His love for cooking started young and he’s worked with European, Mediterranean, Asian and Māori cuisines. His inspiration comes from the land around him and he enjoy sharing this with people who love the food experience. As a perfectionist he prides himself in creating beautiful meals efficiently and calmly and actively seeks new skills. @n_moraitis

Ellis Robbins – Chef

El is a chef and who aims to care for others through food. She is currently the Head Chef at Everybody Eats Wellington, a pay-as-you feel restaurant we’re she creates a three course menu from rescued ingredients destined for landfill. Their mission is to reduce food waste, tackle food poverty and help with social isolation. @ellisrobbins

Alex Hunter – Kai Systems Enthusiast

Alex leads a rangatahi project called Imagining Food Futures and joined Wellington City Council as City Housing's new Community Development Facilitator. She has lived in Te Whanganui-a-Tara for the last five years and found a collection of generous, creative, pioneering friends within the city's food systems network. At Victoria University, a love of cooking led her to focus her Design for Social Innovation studies on community building through kai. It's through this mahi that Alex has truly seen how locally produced kai is the ultimate connector and the best tool we have for growing nourishing futures together.

Baxter Neill – Chef

Baxter currently works as a Commis Pastry Chef based in Wellington. His first job was in a restaurant that specializes in revitalising Māori cuisine, it was this experience that inspired him to learn more about the ingredients of our whenua. He believes we should all grow, forage and learn more where about where our food comes from. @baxterneill

Marlborough / Te Tau Ihu

Hannah Lamb - Regional hero

Hannah is an event co-ordinator, Marlborough food hero and self-dubbed cheesy gastronome. She founded the South Island Cheese Festival, delivers Feast Marlborough and has managed events such as Summer Feast and Bayleys Friday Night Feast. Over the last nine years she’s gained extensive skills across the food industry from manufacturing and logistics, through to marketing, events and advocacy. Her greatest achievement has been helping Cranky Goat cheese to grow from a small start-up to one of the largest artisan goat cheese companies in NZ. Most recently she’s taken on a role at the No.1 Family Estate winery in Marlborough, allowing her to experience the wine industry and to consider its’ connection to the food industry. Hannah has also been working hard to bring regional food producers together to work as a collective singular voice on common issues such as shared costs and marketing the regions offerings. @hlmarketingevents | @southislandcheesefest | @feastmarlborough

Canterbury / Waitaha

Olly Le Maitre – Chef – North Canterbury

Olly is head chef at Black Estate in North Canterbury. He has loved being part of the New Zealand hospitality scene for the past 15 years and this has led him to the team at his current role. He loves the local produce of North Canterbury and using creative but simplistic techniques to showcase each individual ingredient. @olly.lemaitre

Ngaio Cowell – Artist – Ōtautahi

Kia Ora e te whanau. My name is Ngaio Cowell. My whakapapa is Tainui; Ngāti Te Ata, Ngāti Porou and Tauiwi. I am a Ringatoi, Kairaranga, Kaingaki Māra, and Kaitiaki o Te Ao Māori.

Ngaio is passionate about kai and soil sovereignty and she shares her mātauranga through her mahi at Rekindle and the Green Lab in Ōtautahi. Kia mau au i ngākupu o ōku tīpuna. I hold fast to the words of my ancestors” @tiputoi

Jack Shewell – Chef

Jack is the head chef of Ōtautahi’s South Town Club (STC), owner of Morland – his own consulting/catering business and one half of Big Boiz Chicken – a new fried chicken venture. Having worked with some of the best chefs from around Aotearoa, he spent time in Wellington working at restaurants such as Matterhorn and Atlas. Jack brings a passion for mental health and well-being in the industry. @jack.shewell

Will Lyons-Bowman – Viticulturist/Winemaker

Will is a viticulturist and winemaker from Ōtautahi. He is the vineyard manager at Black Estate in Omihi, North Canterbury and has just released the second vintage of his own label – Vita. He is the one of a handful of young kiwi winemakers driving the new-wave of wine in Aotearoa. An obsession with food led him happily into the world of wine, where he’s fallen down a rabbit hole of farming and fermentation. He’s also a cook and food writer and has contributed to Stone Soup and Cuisine Magazine. If he’s not amongst the vines or poking his nose in a barrel, he’s cooking, eating or wrangling his two town-dwelling, vineyard-working dogs. @vita_wines

Claudia Silva - Writer/Photographer/Food Resilience

Claudia is currently studying a Master of Urban Resilience and Renewal at the University of Canterbury. Her thesis focuses on food resilience in urban spaces. As a photographer, writer and storyteller she has a background in anthropology and is passionate about creating nutritional and equal food access in city spaces. In 2020 she co-founded a food journal called A Bigger Table that showcased stories behind food and hopes to take this forward into a food consultancy in the future. She is also a photographer and works for the government funded organisation, Field-Based STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), which develops teachers' and students' STEM knowledge in schools. Here she teaches food and sustainability related topics like foraging, circular economy and food waste. She hopes to be a part of the crew who help shift the rhetoric around food in Aotearoa. @_claudiasilva

Adam Harrison – Chef

Adam is a chef with 15 years’ experience and trained in Yorkshire, UK. He was brought up in a small countryside village and learnt to forage before learning to cook. Upon landing in Aotearoa he spent five years working at Amisfield and then The Sherwood, leading a team to gain a hat within his first year. He now has his own business selling foraged produce to the same top restaurants and draws on both his foraging and cooking skills to help bring wild foods to everyone's dining room table. @mypatchofdirt

Jamie Tucker – Market Gardener – Waikirikiri / Selwyn

Jamie is project and market garden manager for The Organic College/BHU, a ten hectare site at the Horticultural Research Area at Lincoln University. She also owns Laughing Pukeko Organics a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where she grows and sells organic veggies and pasture raised eggs. As a native New Yorker, she made her way to Aotearoa for wine, but has found her calling in organic vegetable production. She is passionate about organics and the soil ecosystem, and thrives on following the journey of food from soil to plate and is based in Waikirikiri/Selwyn. @laughingpukekoorganics

Sam Emerson - Kaimoana Business Owner - Motunau

Sam is Ngāi Tahu from Motunau, with rich family roots in Aotearoa's kaimoana industry and the South Island High Country. He recently began his professional journey into food with his own kaimoana business – Fishy Fishy, but has had a lifelong passion for it, having been blessed to grow up surrounded by (and eating) some of the highest quality food exports of New Zealand. @fishyfishy.nz

Ōtākou / Otago

Fiona Clements – Zero Waste Practitioner – Ōtepoti/Dunedin

Fi is a self-proclaimed craftivist, zero waste practitioner and disruptive systems designer and Papatūānuku is her muse. She currently runs: Senorita AweSUMO and Res.Awesome Ltd, which create resource recovery solutions via zero waste principles. Kaitiaki cultivates rongomaraeroa to nourish, heal and thrive within and without as humans. Ko Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe, Kāi Tahu, Gordon oku iwi. @senoritaawesumo | @res.awesome

Ella Cameron-Smith – Honours Student – Ōtepoti

Ko Ella Cameron-Smith tōku ingoa | He uri ahau nō Waikato me Ngāti Ranginui hoki | Ko Ngāti Korokī Kahukura me | Ngāti Hangarau ōku hapū | Nō Rangitīkei ahau. | Kei Ōtepoti tōku kāinga ināianei.

Ella is a full-time postgraduate student with Te Koronga Indigenous Research theme, Indigenous Science Centre, Te Whare Wānanga o Ōtakou. She is exploring kai and cultural kai practices from a te ao Māori perspective to support whānau wellbeing, and she lives and breathes her kaupapa. @ellacameronsmith

Gabby Arnott – Student/Compost Warrior

Gabby is a huge lover of kai and its power to facilitate connection to each other and the world around us. I am also obsessed with compost and the circular way in which food can nourish ourselves as well as Papatūānuku! She helps create Slow Food Youth Otago, a student-led group which challenges the disconnects she has observed while studying and she deals in real-time measurements of food waste from student residential halls, flats, and cafes. Gabby helps out at the amazing Pōpopo in Ōtepoti, an onsite, large-scale composting and worm-farm system. @earthy.gabs | @slowfoodyouth_otago

Joe Flaherty – Food Writer

Joe is a writer who grew up in Dunedin, and made his first batch of cheese when he was eleven. He has a Bachelor of Culinary Artsat the Otago Polytechnic with a focus on Food Writing. He has written for Critic – the Otago University student magazine and has contributed to The Valley Voice, writing recipes and analysing interesting eras of food history.He’s been working in kitchens since he was fourteen (though sadly not as acheesemaker) and is on a mission to investigate how food both shapes and reflects the culture around it, he’d also like everyone to know that he is relatively tall.

Trixie Croad – Sociologist/Food Systems Researcher

Trixie is a sociologist and a sustainable food systems enthusiast. She is a leading researcher across food waste in Aotearoa and is an associate investigator of the Food Waste Innovation Research Theme at the University of Otago.She sees a huge opportunity and responsibility in Aotearoa to address the multitude of issues present within our food production sector. She also sees critical social science research as key to this kaupapa – an area where she is most adept.

Kimberley Ti – Dietitian

Kimberley is a registered dietitian and her love for food comes from growing up with various food cultures in Malaysia due to its history and geographical location. She loves learning about food and what it means to different people. She thinks it is important for us to learn about food outside of supermarkets and allow the good food in Aotearoa to nourish our bodies. Her current project is @feedmyflat a non-profit food bag initiative from the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Otago that aims to provide healthy budget meals for students despite rising food costs.

Chanelle O’Sullivan – Mead Maker/Grower/Cook – Glenorchy

Chanelle is a ‘Jack of all trades’ who loves to grow, forage, ferment and cook. Her business, Borage and Bee Meadery, turns beautiful Aotearoa honey into sparkling meads. She is also a passionate learner - currently studying Mycology/Mushroom Production, Permaculture and ‘Futures Thinking’ with a focus on Food, Farming, Organics and Regeneration. @borageandbee

Murihiku / Southland

Katherine Mitchell – Educator/Tourism Operator – Fiordland

Based in Fiordland Katherines day job is co-owner/operator of Fiordland Charters where she manages the day to day boat operations alongside chefing and hosting on the MV Pembroke. She splits her time between ocean and land utilising her skills as a keen fisher, diver, hunter, gardener and cook to educate clients and the local Te Anau community about sustainable fishing, hunting, growing and eating. @katherineinshadowland

Kate French – Hospitality/Café Owner - Invercargill

Kate is a mum to two boys and co-owns The Batch Café in Invercargill. She loves all things food and the unique role it plays in bringing people together. Through her business, she is on a mission to make the local food and producers of Southland more visible, celebrated and fun. At Batch Café they run an evolving monthly series called ‘Made in Murihiku’, where all ingredients from the dish are grown or sourced in Southland. @thebatchcafe_

Brit MacDonald – Sourdough Baker - Invercargill

Brit is a sourdough baker and the owner of FlourBro in Invercargill. She is a mum of three, with a strong passion for all things food and began learning the craft of sourdough in lockdown 2020 to support her families health. When she realised there was nowhere in Invercargill that made sourdough, she started baking bread for locals from her kitchen at home. Two years later, Brit now has her own sourdough bakery on the main street of Invercargill. Her Grandad was also a qualified bread baker back in his time. She loves sharing knowledge around food for wellness, and holistically nourishing our hauora. @flourbro

Haylee Simeon – Chef - Bluff

Haylee is best known as Hayz, in hometown of Bluff in Southland, she owns and operates a restaurant & bar called Hayz At The Anchorage. Here she showcases local Kai, using traditional Māori dishes for inspiration, putting a modern spin on them and utilising all parts. They tell their customers food stories about the Kai including where and how it has been harvested to make for a memorable food experience while sharing knowledge about the Kai they’re eating. She also loves foraging for and using indigenous ingredients. @cookingwithhayz

Stay tuned on our Eat New Zealand Instagram and Facebook pages to meet the faces of these incredible young people.

IG - @eat.newzealand

FB - @EatNZ


Eat New Zealand Kaitaki Collective - Class of 2021

Below is our Eat New Zealand Kaitaki Collective for 2021. A 30 strong group of next-generation food story-tellers have been chosen from across Aotearoa.

Southland / Ruapuke Island

Daniel Tarrant - Beekeeper / Hunter

Daniel (Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu) is a bee-keeper, sheep-farmer and hunter based on Ruapuke Island in Southland. He's deeply passionate about hunting, gathering and fishing and as next generation on the whānau owned Ruapuke Island he feels a strong connection to protecting this special place. As a producer of ‘The Worlds Southern Most Mānuka Honey’ from hive to spoon, he loves sharing the Ruapuke Honey and process of establishing hives on the Island. Daniel loves to kōrero, sharing and teaching others how to source and provide for their own whānau. @ruapuke.uncut


Ethan Flack - Chef

Ethan is a chef, born and bred in Southland and has recently returned to Invercargill after spending ten years in the UK. He completed his cooking apprentice in Queenstown and went abroad to gain experience, completing stages with globally renowned chefs including Dan Barber in New York and Christian Puglisi in Copenhagen. After spending time away from this place, he's developed a new appreciation for Southland and believes in the produce, community and potential of the region. He's on a pursuit to create a food space, with no restraint on hours or menus where he can work with what's available, ready, ripe and in season. @ethan____flack


Lucas Parkinson - Chef

Lucas is the chef and owner of Ode in Wānaka, established in 2017, where they serve 98% organic and biodynamic New Zealand produce along with New Zealand wine. He's a hardcore organic enthusiast and long time advocate for sustainability and ethical practices in New Zealand. He speaks openly and honestly about his own experiences and challenges within the hospitality industry, including a devastating fire that forced him to close the restaurant for a short period in 2019. Having just sold Ode, he's looking forward to spending more time with his family and deciding where he will take his next move. @luc_soul

Christchurch / Ōtautahi

Olivia Sisson - Writer / Fungi Forager

Liv is a full-time writer and prolific fungi forager, based in Christchurch, but is originally from The Shenandoah Mountains in Virginia USA. She loves fungi, foraging and urban-gardening and feels fired up about how epic New Zealand food is and is looking forward to having the opportunity to shine a light on the people behind our food. As a copywriter by day she works across many digital content platforms and is pumped to be able to help tell genuine and engaging food stories. @liv_mosss

Dylan Parker - Farmer / Gardener

Dylan is a farmer, gardener and seed saver who has been involved in local food in Christchurch since 2014. He's currently 2IC at Cultivate Christchurch and runs Crooked Roots, a slow cropping and seed saving project with friends at the Biological Husbandry Unit at Lincoln University. He's on the committee for his local community garden and is the lead farmer on a new project in the Redzone in Ōtautahi - an educational hub to help connect and empower local people to engage with the land and strengthen their food security. @farmerdillo

Izzie Thompson - Eater / Poet

Izzie is an enthusiastic eater, pickler, forager, poet and works full time in architecture. She spends her days dreaming of vegetables and gets ultimate satisfaction through combining flavours in traditional and new ways, and consuming said creations with a multitude of homemade pickles, garnishes and herbs. She loves sharing the meal with others, physically or through her fledgling foodstagram. She has contributed food content to Wilderness.co.nz and is driven to share how we can help ourselves by helping local producers. @lookizziefood

Jackson Mehlhopt - Chef

Jackson is Head Chef at Gin Gin in Christchurch, a small gin bar on New Regent St in the CBD. Being homeschooled, he spent his childhood growing vegetables, raising chickens, spending time on his Uncle's dairy farm in Farlie and of course, cooking. He recognises that cooking is community, the congregation of relentless hours of hard work from extremely passionate people. He's passionate about minimising waste in the kitchen through fermentation, and is currently running a bread miso program to try and use all of the leftover pizza dough from the night before to turn it into a usable, delicious product. @jacksonjame

Aliesha McGilligan - Baker / Chef

Aliesha (Ngāti Porou) is a chef, professional baker and Ōtautahi hospitality hero. She currently works at thriving artisan bakery, Bellbird Bakery and has been a big time supporter of Eat New Zealand since its' inception. She spent most of her culinary career in restaurants, as well as running a café, a woodfired pizza project and an ice cream venture. Post-quake her cooking has become focused on health, community and sustainability and this journey has led her to believe that connectivity between people and food creates health and wealth for the individual, the community and the earth. She's a deeply connected and conscious creator and consumer of kai, who has always hero'ed farmers markets, and loves fermenting and growing her own food. @gastrono.mc

Nelson / Awaroa

Zane Hirini Heemi - Chef

Zane (Nga Puhi, Te Arawa) is a chef with 17 years experience, having worked all over the world including Australia, Japan and Europe. He's recently moved back to begin a head chef role in Awaroa for the upcoming 2021 season. Zane is passionate about pre European Māori food, tikanga around food and harvesting, cooking food over fire and sustainability. He wants to focus on growing his knowledge of māori cooking techniques, and 'pest eating' - or as he explains it, eating ourselves out of the problems we have in our food systems. He is also a writer and has contributed to various hospitality based publications. @zaneheemi


Tim Barnett - Spear Fisherman

Tim is a commercial free diver, spearo, and passionate outdoorsman. He has woven his love of the outdoors and the underwater world with the need to provide an income for his family. Leading him into television work and ultimately the formation of Ocean Speared. He’s relishing the connection with who is eating and cooking his fish, including some of the country's best chefs. He believes there is the opportunity to change the way we harvest fish from our waters, ensuring no bycatch. #KnowYourFisher @oceanspeared @timbarnett_hunting

Wellington / Te Whānganui-a-tara

Katie Mahn - Population Health Dietitian

Katie is a New Zealand Canadian and a Population Health Dietitian with a passion for helping people and whānau to lead healthier, happier lives by improving their health and relationship with food. She is currently working on a project in high schools starting up māra - traditional Māori gardens. She's also passionate about food waste and has volunteered for food charities such as Kaibosh, Common Unity Aotearoa and Everybody Eats and loves gardening, foraging hiking and cooking. @ktmahn

JaeHoon Eon - Chef

Hoon is from South Korea and is the head chef of Havana Bar and Restaurant in Wellington, he's also the founder of Bibim - a Wellington pop up restaurant that showcases Korean cuisine using seasonal New Zealand ingredients. Having worked at a number of Michelin starred restaurants throughout Korea, a few years ago he moved to New Zealand and fell in love with our fresh produce and unique ingredients. He's on a mission to create sustainable food and innovative cuisine, he's also just been nominated as an 'Emerging Chef' in the Felix Wellington Hospitality Awards 2021. @chef_hoon64

Vicki Young - Pastry Chef / Chef

Vicki is a trained pastry chef, dessert wizard and hospitality all rounder. Growing up as a New Zealand Chinese with a market gardening family, hospitality and food runs in her blood and she's always had a deep appreciation for produce and the people behind it. She works as a private chef and owns a small bespoke cake business called 'Vicki Eats' alongside pop-up dessert degustation events. @vickieats

Lydia Thomsen - Nutritionist / Soil Advocate

Lydia is a nutritionist, soil advocate, health promoter and communicator, farmer and Bokashi/compost enthusiast. She works part-time as an educator and farmer for the Common Unity Project Aotearoa working on an Urban Kai Farms project called 'Agrihood'. She has a BSc in Human Nutrition, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health. Her journey of understanding soil health and regeneration is ignited by her family farm in the Hawkes Bay, and she's on a mission to become a soil storyteller and wants to help inspire others to regenerate soil to grow/produce nutrient dense food and promote appropriate food waste systems. @agreeablegrub

Arthur Hon Sheng - Photographer / Chef

Arthur is a photographer, videographer and visual storyteller as well as an experimental chef. Born in Penang, Malaysia, he moved to NZ when we was 16 and has recently graduated from Otago University majoring in Food Science where he was heavily involved in volunteering. He is currently working at The Food Lab, a premium catering and production company and his experience of two different cultures has made him a more open minded and creative chef. He believes humans are social species and that we grow and learn as a collective and he's looking forward to being a part of something that evolves the story of food in Aotearoa. @therunninbanana


Jannine Rickards - Winemaker / Wild Food

Jannine Rickards (Ngā puhi & Ngā te Rangi) is a winemaker who has her own label, Huntress Wines. As the name suggests she is also a wild food wāhine, who comitted to full utilistaion of the animals she hunts. She's based in the Wairarapa with her partner Mick where they're creating a permaculture property. Jannine is on a journey to reconnect with her whakapapa, learning more te reo and tikanga as she goes. @janninerickards @huntress_wines

Palmerston North / Manawatu

Mrinali Kumar - Food Technologist

Milli is a food technologist and entrepreneur who is currently studying her Masters in Food Technology in Palmerston North. She's working on a plant based Food Start Up called Kinda! (a result of a Start Up Weekend in Taranaki). Kinda, is on a mission to create plant based food in a more sustainable way, that looks after our land, our people and our animals. Their first unique product is a plant based ice cream made using cauliflower. As a food technologist she's been involved with product development, market research, processing and commercialisation and is well connected within the industry. Milli is passionate about driving sustainable innovation for New Zealand’s food sector, with health and well being as a core focus. @eatkinda @milli.kumar

Gisborne / Tairāwhiti

Hamiora Gibson - Bushman / Educator

Hamiora is a bushman, an educator, trapper, hunter, forager, botanist and fisherman. As a kaitiaki of our ecosystems he has a strong passion for our traditional mahinga kai species. He currently manages the Eastern Whio Link Conservation Project in the Upper Waioeka, working to help inspire and raise the next generation of kaitiaki. He has appeared on Māori TV and at various events and contributes to NZ Outdoor, he also speaks at conferences, schools, does bush tours and has a crew of rangatahi behind him. As a bushman Hamiora understands the management of both native or introduced food resources and what it looks like to sustainably harvest and is deeply driven to share this knowledge with future generations. @sam_the_trap_man


Davina, Marino & Whaitiri - Wild Food / Food Truck

Davina has a whānau run business called Wharekai Cafe, and has just purchased a food trailer called Kai-Tiaki. She was born and raised gathering, diving, foraging and growing kai. Her son Marino is a passionate diver, hunter and gatherer, who is currently completing his Bachelor of Environmental Science in Marine studies. His partner, Whaitiri is also an avid gatherer of kai (and a better diver than Marino!) she is a qualified barista and they all help within the kai businesses. Their vision is to travel around Aotearoa doing events and markets and connecting to people through kai and koha kawhe. They live by the Maramataka Māori, the Māori Lunar calendar for Kai on land and sea. @wharekai


Jessica Lamb - Student / Environmentalist

Jess is a Year 13 student in Rotorua, she's passionate about changing people’s perspectives around plant based eating both for the health of humans and our planet. She feel's strongly about sustainability; reducing single use plastic, composting, and helping her sister (Kaitlyn, one of our 2020 Kaitaki) in the garden to grow food. She's a keen runner and loves anything to do with conservation. Next year she's planning to study Environmental Science at the University of Canterbury. @eco_runawayjess


Gemma Fitzpatrick - Food Communicator

Gemma is a food writer and photographer and is the marketing manager for Service Foods, one of NZ's largest food distrbutors. She is super passionate about creating content and telling stories for food-related businesses. She lives to eat and during the weekend you'll often find her creating recipes or baking for Good Bitches Baking, she's has also just signed up to a Masters in Gastronomy to help find her food writing voice. @sustenance.co


Kārena Bird - Chef / Māori Food Storyteller

Kārena (Te Arawa) is a well-known New Zealand chef and storyteller, who specialises in creating unique Māori food experiences. Since she and her sister won Masterchef NZ in 2014, she's co-hosted two seasons of the TV show 'Karena and Kasey's Kitchen Diplomacy, and self-published two award-winning cookbooks including: For the Love Of, and, Hungry. Her mahi within the culinary food scene has included international work with NZTE and cooking appearances aross Aotearoa. In 2018 Kasey & Kārena did a series of pop up events called 'The Creation Dinner' where they shared kōrero about Atua Māori alongside a degustation dinner. Having recently undertaken a fulltime Te Reo Māori course she is currently writing their third cookbook which will be entirely written in Te reo Māori. @karenakasey


Tegan McGowan - Food Systems / Nutritionist

Tegan is an Associate Registered Nutritionist, was the co-founder of Toha Kai and has just moved to Tauranga to start a Health Improvement Advisor role for Toi Te Ora Public Health. Toha Kai is a non-government organization advocating food security, it was grown out of the Roimata Commons Community Garden in Christchurch and the urgent need for more resilient food systems - they work with local food producers to purchase and redistribute excess food to provide accessible and affordable kai boxes as we all cooking classes in Woolston. In her new role, she works in Food Systems Change which involves strengthening healthy food and drink policy, food security, working to support those building stronger food communities such as Kai Rotorua and supporting Ka Ora, Ka Ako - the healthy schools lunch programme. @tohakaiotautahi @teganoliviamcgowan


Hannah O'Brien - Honey Producer

Hannah and her husband Rory, run an ethical, sustainable beekeeping business called Hunt and Gather Bee Co. They have expert knowledge in apiculture and produce a range of NZ forest honeys, predominantly Kānuka and Rewarewa. Their business is based around environmental values including regeneration, sustainable packaging and pest control. Hannah and Rory left their jobs as a teacher and dairy farmer, before starting their company, and as proud food producers, they fly the flag high for sustainable, small New Zealand businesses. @huntandgatherbeeco

Auckland / Tāmaki Makaurau

Wendy Zhou - Food Waste Entrepreneur

Wendy is a data-savvy entrepreneur and the founder of Perfectly Imperfect - A Charitable Trust launched in March 2020, which stands behind the belief that ‘ugly is the new tasty’. It tackles the issue of pre-harvest food loss by gathering produce that would otherwise go to waste and redistributing it to those in need. They received the Community Collaboration award at the Tāmaki Makaurau 2021 Zero Waste Awards by Auckland Council and Eco Matters. She has a dynamic cultural background, was born in China, and grew up in a well-known Auckland dumpling restaurant and believes 'love food hate waste' is in her blood. She's worked in well known startups, various financial sectors, global supply chains and has a background in statistics. @perfectlyimperfectsnz

Isabel Pasch - Baker / Microbiologist

Isabel owns Bread and Butter Bakery in Auckland - a bakery that began focusing on organic sourdough production 11 years ago. She has a Master of Science in Microbiology, where she studied the microbiome involved in gut fermentation, and did a further degree in science communication. She chose a more practical approach to communicate this knowledge via good food and also has a blog called breadpolitics.com. Isabel immigrated to New Zealand from Germany and cares deeply about food, the environmental impacts of what we choose to grow and the impact of that food on people's physical and mental wellbeing. She's also heavily involved in the #EatNZGrains movement. @breadandbutter.nz

Hannah Beth Miller Childs - Butcher / Charcutier

Hannah is one of New Zealand's top butchers, and owner of 'A Lady Butcher' - a line of quality New Zealand charcuterie. Originally from Portland, Oregon, she studied as a chef at The Culinary Institute of America in New York, and it was the idea of whole animal utilization that got her into butchery. She moved to London to start her butchery apprenticeship and after 10 years and several continents, she saw that New Zealand had a major butcher shortage, so applied for a working holiday visa and started her career in Aotearoa. She's also a strong advocate for actively hiring, mentoring and training woman in the traditional trades of butchery and charcuterie. @aladybutcher

Holly Bagwell - Environmental & Wellness Advocate

Holly is a Year 12 student at Long Bay College in Auckland, she's passionate about creating a positive impact on the well-being of people and the planet. When she was 14 she went to a talk about the microbial link between sourdough, the soil and the gut, run by For the Love of Bees and after hearing about regenerative gardening, she started a regenerative garden at her school. In the school holidays she works at the Sir Peter Blake Marine Education and Recreation Centre (MERC) teaching kids about marine conservation through outdoor education. She is a yoga teacher, who loves to speak and write and she is currently looking into the cultivation and carbon cycle through the story of Rongo-ma-tāne the Atua (god) of food. @holly.guacam0le

Teri Styles - Dietitian / Food Advocacy

Teri is a Registered Dietitian involved in food advocacy. In her current role at the Auckland City Mission Food Bank, she works with whānau coming through the mission to access food and provide extra support when possible. She brings with her the voice of the vulnerable, knowledge of nutrition and food systems, along with compassion and experience in both clinical and social services. @teristyles @aucklandcitymission


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