Food rescuers: Celebrating the opening of the Queenstown branch of KiwiHarvest are, from left, manager Kayleigh Cord, KiwiHarvest founder Deborah Manning, branch worker Mel Wright and Sustainable Queenstown co-founder Esther Whitehead


An organisation dedicated to nourishing Whakatipu residents and their families has massively upscaled its operations after setting up a base in a Frankton warehouse.

Speaking at the official opening of food rescue service KiwiHarvest’s Queenstown branch in Glenda Drive on Wednesday, its national founder, Deborah Manning, said she was elated to
finally officially open the building after Alert Level 3 restrictions put a stop to earlier  attempts.

The Dunedin resident heaped praise on Sustainable Queenstown co-founder Esther Whitehead for bringing KiwiHarvest to the resort in 2018, including spending the first nine
months doing the food collection herself.

Manning tells Mountain Scene the organisation had its beginnings a decade ago after she read articles in the Otago Daily Times about children going to school hungry and people ‘‘dumpster-diving’’ in the city.

She quit her job as a lawyer and began driving around in her own car to collect food from cafes and bakeries and taking it to social service providers.

It now provides half a million meal-equivalents a month throughout the country.

Branch manager Kay leigh Cord says it’s distributed about 400,000 meal equivalents since it began operating in the resort in 2018.



The warehouse, from which it began operating last October, has a large chiller and freezer, racking for pallets and a new truck.

‘‘Previously we had a vehicle and one person, which meant everything we rescued on that day had to get out — we had nowhere to keep it,’’ Cord says.

‘‘Now we can take far bigger volumes, and we can also receive food from the NZ Food Network, which delivers pallet-loads of food to us that we can then break down and distribute to the community.’’

The branch employs two part-time staff and has a pool of about 10 volunteers and has just started delivering food to Wanaka and Cromwell once a week, with plans to extend its network more widely, she says.