The Waikato region covers a huge area of the North Island of New Zealand. It stretches from the Bombay Hills in the north to Turangi in the south and from the West coast to the Kaimai ranges in the East. The region has been home to a diverse range of food producers since the days when local iwi produced vegetable and cereal crops to feed their own people and those in other areas. Dairy, beef and sheep farmers, factories, orchardists, wineries, breweries and cheesemakers, seafood farms and fishing industries, award-winning cafes and restaurants – we have them all, as well as top-class hospitality industry training at Wintec in Hamilton. But, unlike many other regions of New Zealand, Waikato is often not recognised for the excellence of the foods and beverages produced here. In September 2013 Waikato Food Incorporated, a new, not-for-profit, co-operative enterprise was set up to try to change that perception.
WFI is now a registered Incorporated Society, has IRD tax-exempt status and has applied for recognition as a registered charity. Several local businesses have given us practical support by way of “angel” sponsorship and our membership is steadily growing. We were awarded the AMP Waikato Regional scholarship in 2014, which helped kick start several iniatives. We collaborated with the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival in February 2016 to host the first Feast Waikato event, a one day celebration of our local produce and chefs..
Why should you be a Waikato Food Inc member?
If you love food, have a food or beverage business of any type and love the Waikato, you will surely want to see our region recognised for the foodie paradise it is. WFI aims to celebrate and support excellence in all aspects of the food and beverage industries so that the Waikato is recognised as a foodie destination, attracting visitors from outside the region and can reap the many benefits that food tourism brings. We need your support to make this happen, and to encourage you to join us we offer a first year membership for just $100. Membership brings a great range of benefits which you and your staff will enjoy. Contact us for more information [firstname.lastname@example.org] or join WFI right now by clicking HERE
Current member benefits:
- Discounted attendance at all WFI events, including networking, professional development short courses, and Field Trips
- A member’s discount card which gives substantial discounts on goods for personal and business use at well-known businesses
- Support and advice from other food industry professionals
- Celebration of successes and food industry events via our social media channels
- Opportunities for your products to be featured at dinners and lunches hosted by WFI
- Opportunities to host members of our new Waikato Foodies group at your hospitality venue
- Discounted entry into our annual Matariki Dish Challenge
- List your situations vacant on our website and via our social media channels
- Subsidised stands at shows such as FEAST Waikato and the Great New Zealand Food Show
- Subsidised advertisements in our Waikato Dining Guide
- Opportunities to participate in cooking demonstrations and competition
The group is powered by a volunteer committee of local food professionals and business owners who meet fortnightly to plan events and work towards achieving our goals.
The committee is a diverse group of local food professionals and business owners:
- Vicki Ravlich-Horan, Owner/publisher of Nourish magazine (Chairperson and founder of WFI)
- Raewyn Towers, ex-owner Cuisinescene NZ Ltd (Secretary)
- Belinda Cox, Owner, Savour the Taste Ltd (Treasurer)
- Nathan Hartley, Head of Food and Beverage, SkyCity Hamilton
- Gus Tissink, General Manager, BidVest Fresh, Hamilton
- Sara Towers, Centre Director of Beauty Therapy, Hairdressing and Hospitality, Wintec
- Kerry Sturgeon, Sales/Design Manager, NZ Sign Company
- Adrian Hodgson, Executive Chef, District café and Waikato President of Restaurant Assoc. of NZ
- Scott Merhtens, Managing Director, LeisureTime Tours Ltd.
If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.