Frequently asked questions
If you can’t find what you are looking for in the question below, please contact us to ask us directly.
How can I volunteer with The Kai Ika Project?
The Kai Ika Project relies on volunteers to help our small team recover and share enough kaimoana to feed our growing community.
We have a range of opportunities available for individuals or groups of any size.
If you would like to be involved with an initiative dedicated to having a positive impact on our environment and community please fill out your details below and we’ll be in touch.
Our volunteers help with kaimoana collections, community distributions, fish handling and processing, assisting with POS transactions, community engagement, gardening at the Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae, assisting at special events and in a number of behind the scene roles.
How can I donate to Kai ika?
The world is shifting, the immediate future is unclear and uncertain. However one thing remains clear – people always need access to good quality food, water and shelter. We need your help to provide these human rights to vulnerable communities.
Requests for kaimoana are once again on the rise. We’re up for the challenge, but we need your help.
A little koha will go a long way.
If you’d like to donate, head over to our donation page and follow the instructions.
How did The Kai Ika Project start?
It all started thanks to a simple question from the Outboard Boating Club of Auckland (OBC).
OBC approached LegaSea and said “We think we could be doing better, we don’t know what that is but we think that we could be doing better with these fish parts. Can you help us?”
The club has a fish filleting station for their members to use. After a long day out on the water, the members would return to the marina, wash their boats, fillet their fish and be on their way. Members would chuck their fish heads and frames into a one tonne skip bin. They even paid for this to be removed and sent to landfill.
In the same week, LegaSea founder, Scott Macindoe read a newspaper article about The Papatuanuku Kokiri marae in South Auckland which grows 80,000 kumara every year to share with the community.
Scott called the marae and asked. “How would you like 80,000 fish heads to go with your 80,000 kumura?”
And so, in 2016 The Kai Ika Project was born, with volunteers picking up 17kg of fish heads and frames from the Outboard Boating Club.
What is a typical day for Kai Ika?
Our dedicated team are responsible for fish filleting, kai moana collections, additional processing (removing gills, guts, breaking down heads, wings and frames) and community distribution.
Our lead filleter, Dave Ahoia, has over 30 years experience in fish processing. He works at ‘ninja’ speed efficiently and will recover as much of the fillet as possible. On a busy Friday in the middle of summer our team at the Z Pier trailer will fillet hundreds of fish.
The spare fish parts from Westhaven, Moana New Zealand, Sanford,Scott Seafood, and Kiwi Fish, are picked up by the crew from Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae, and taken back to south Auckland for distribution.
A text message is sent to the community advising fish is now available. Usually, within minutes, there is a lineup of cars and families waiting patiently (2m apart during COVID level 4 of course) for a chance to receive this treasured kai moana.
After the fulfilling task of feeding the community, everyone is happy and the team moves onto the next set of tasks at the marae.
How is the project funded?
The Kai Ika Project is a nonprofit initiative that is funded through partners/sponsors, grant providers and public donations.
Our filleting service was established to assist in funding the project with 100% of income, injected back into the kaupapa.
We have ambitions to create additional revenue streams to allow us to continue scaling up our operations to feed more families.
What does the future hold for Kai Ika?
We provide filleting services to fishing competitions. A new trailer is due for completion in late 2021, which will be fully equipped to use at events.
Our goal is to minimise our impact on the marine environment by reducing waste, and educating fishers to make the most of every fish taken.
We are currently developing a 100% organic fertiliser using inedible fish parts (offal) that were previously buried in the Marae’s community garden, adding to our maximum utilisation kaupapa.
Kaimoana (Seafood) distributions
Where do you source your fish heads from?
We originally sourced all of our kai moana (namely fish heads and frames) from recreational fishers. The Outboard Boating Club of Auckland (OBC) has a fish filleting station for their members to use. At the filleting station there is a chiller for members to store the fish heads, frames and offal until we pick them up.
Now we have a range of sources from recreational fishers, commercial fishers and seafood retailers.
Here is the list of organisations committed to being more responsible and shifting their behaviours:
- Westhaven Z Pier
- Moana New Zealand
- Sanford Limited
- Kiwi Fish
- Scott Seafood
- Service Foods
- Kiwi Harvest
- A large number of Auckland based fishing competitions.
How often do you distribute kai moana to the community?
Our community distribution varies depending on fish availability.
We collect kai moana from our various sources most days of the week and it is shared with community groups throughout Auckland and beyond.
We consistently distribute through the Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae from Wednesday to Friday.
Where do you distribute your fish heads?
Our distribution system is the result of the thousands of hours that the Papatūānuku Kōkiri marae team have invested in community collaboration and networking over many years. The number of distribution hubs are continuously expanding throughout Auckland and beyond.
A large portion of our distribution continues to be through the Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae in Māngere. We also share kai moana with the Hoani Waititi Marae and kura, the Manurewa Marae, Nga Hau e Wha marae and several Fijian and Tongan Churches. These community groups connect with local families to coordinate sharing of the resources.
How can I get access to kaimoana?
If you live in Auckland and you would like access to delicious fish heads and frames please let us know. When fish is available, we send out bulk text messages to our database. If you would like to be added to the list of recipients please head over to our contact page, fill in your details and ask to have access to kai moana.
If you live outside of Auckland please sign up to Free Fish Heads and register your location. When someone in your area has surplus fish heads to donate they may contact you and ask to connect.
How has COVID-19 affected The Kai Ika Project?
Since Covid-19 arrived, demand has skyrocketed. Distributions in March 2021 were over 400% greater than in March 2020. With unemployment still above 5%, we expect this level of demand to continue.
In 2020, overnight in New Zealand tens of thousands of people became unemployed. These were airport workers, fast food workers, Uber drivers, after-hour cleaners plus many more. This put huge pressure on families, who didn’t know how and if they could put food on the table.
From this, we experienced an explosion in demand. But being in lockdown meant OBC members couldn’t go fishing and our supply of fish parts disappeared.
We adapted by reaching out to the commercial fishing company, Moana New Zealand. We told them about our situation and they immediately came on board and started supplying hundreds of kilograms of high quality fish heads every couple of days.
We went from distributing close to 300kg on a good week to zero and then to over 1000kg during that first lockdown. And we have tried to maintain this growth.
Fast forward to 2021, we’ve now partnered up with additional fishing companies Sanford and Kiwi Fish and more retailers are coming onboard committed to being more responsible and shifting their behaviours. Through these partnerships we recover close to 2000kg of fish heads every week and share it with what was a small community in one area of Auckland to now a large community throughout the entire Auckland region and beyond.
To date, we’ve diverted over 160,000kg of fish parts that would have otherwise been wasted into the homes and bellies of families who truly appreciate these parts of the fish and revere it as a delicacy.
Where/how/why do you fillet fish?
The Kai Ika Project fillets fish to feed whanau.
We have always struggled to source enough fish heads and frames to keep up with demand. This was coupled with the fact that as demand grew so did our running costs. To overcome these obstacles, we offered to fillet the OBC members fish for a small fee.
This was a win, win, win.
- Members avoided the hassle of cleaning their fish.
- We got our hands on every single fish head and frame that came through that marina.
- We had a revenue stream to cover distribution costs.
Our filleting program developed into a full time service at OBC every weekend and this has continued to this day.
After employing Dave Ahoia, the best filleter in New Zealand, we started to explore the option to create a full time filleting service to offer the rest of Auckland. By the end of 2020 we had a fully equipped fish filleting trailer.
Alround Sheetmetals did an incredible job constructing our custom built, solar powered filleting trailer. Thanks to Westhaven Marina, the trailer is permanently located at the Z Pier car park. This means returning fishers can easily access expert filleting services for a small fee, and we take the unwanted parts. It’s a win-win enterprise.
We also offer a commercial grade knife sharpening service, this is very popular with the Westhaven community.
100% of the money raised via our filleting and knife sharpening services is re-invested back in The Kai Ika Project, allowing us to do more.
How much does it cost to have my fish filleted?
|Small/Medium Fish (<75cm)||$3.00|
|One Kingfish / Hapuku||$10.00|
|Gut and gill||$2.00|
We will handle your fish with maximum respect. We ask that you do the same:
1. Take a chilly bin and salt ice when fishing
2. Keep fish slurried and chilled
3. Minimise cross contamination between bait, offal and fish.
Do you fillet at fishing competitions?
We have been filleting at fishing competitions for many years now.
We have a new fish filleting trailer under construction which will allow us to travel throughout Auckland and around the North Island to attend fishing competitions.
Some of our regular fishing events include:
- NZOIB Kalmar Fishing Comp
- Chesters Fanatical Fishos
- JA Russell Oarsome Day Out
- Westcoaster Fishing Comp
If you would like us to attend your fishing event please contact us and one of the team will reach out to you.