Regional Food System Strategy – May Update

Why are we creating a Regional Food Systems Strategy?

Our food system isn’t currently working. New Zealand’s image as the land of plenty, is fading, with some alarming facts and figures about our food situation:
– between 75 to 95 percent of New Zealand’s seafood is exported annually
– New Zealand exports 95 percent of our dairy products, 87 percent of our beef, 95 percent of our sheep meat, and 90 percent of our kiwifruit. Many kiwis cannot afford the food that is grown here.
– New Zealand produces enough food for 40 million people, yet is one of the most malnourished countries in the OECD
– One in five children in Aotearoa live in a household that experiences food poverty.
– In 1990 our local food economy had 22,000 small producers. There are now only 900.


Creating a Better Regional Food System

To address these issues, one of our key regional projects is to develop a Regional Food System Strategy.

The Regional Food System Strategy (RFSS) is an opportunity to foster a sustainable, locally-based, and equitable food system. The RFSS project aims to:

  • Create an actionable plan that prioritises food security, food sovereignty, economic opportunities and community wellbeing through sustainable and local methods that benefit all aspects of health
  • Strengthen community, iwi and council partnerships across the region
  • Embed mātauranga Māori and Te Ao Māori concepts of food sustainability. Support opportunities for the Māori food economy as determined by Māori
  • Inform future policy on aspects such as urban development, economic planning and climate change.

Over the last nine months, the RFSS project has been engaging with partners across the region to find out how they think our food system can become more sustainable, equitable, and locally-based. Our partners include mana whenua, community organisations, growers and producers, council and central government, and environmental experts.

Benefits of a locally-focused and sustainable food system

Focusing on a more local and sustainable food system allows us to reduce emissions, work in harmony with te taiao our environment, and can bolster our local economy. Also, by working with local partners to build on existing community initiatives that increase access to healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food, we are hoping everyone in our region has access to the food that they want and need.


Next steps for the RFSS

The RFSS is currently in the process of gathering and analyse both quantitative and qualitative data and design on-the-ground pilots, tailored to place-based needs across the region to inform the final strategy.

Decisions around the actions and priorities will be led by a community advisory board (CAB) made up of mana whenua, community, rangatahi and growers, while being supported by a Technical advisory group (TAG) that includes government and industry support.

Fig.1 RFSS Approach

Less ‘what’, more ‘how’

The Regional Food System Strategy is placing less emphasis on the what, and more on the how. The quality of a strategy is greatly helped by taking the time to ask better questions, and to think long term, about how today’s choices make tomorrow’s reality. 

To find out more or get involved, please contact Project Lead Tessa Acker at:


Wellington Regional Leadership Committee

100 Cuba Street, Wellington
New Zealand

E: W: