Moves are afoot for Whangarei to become the first Fair Trade District in New Zealand - if Nelson doesn't get there first.

The possibility was talked up during Fair Trade fortnight in May when Karen Yung, communities co-ordinator for the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand, was in Whangarei.

Ms Yung met people from Whangarei District Council, Northland Chamber of Commerce, the hospitality and tourism industries and community organisations to promote the idea of commercial and public organisations using only products, such as coffee and tea, from fair trading certified countries or suppliers.

"It was great to be able to meet such a wide range of people in different fields, interested and somewhat passionate about Fair Trade - in terms of learning more about it," Ms Yung said.


Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland are Fair Trade "cities" with the concept of the first district currently being investigated in Nelson and Whangarei.

Local promoter Tricia Cutforth said she was keen for Whangarei District Council to become a Fair Trade organisation, especially the country's first.

"It's about how we brand Whangarei, what we want Whangarei to be known for. It's about putting Whangarei on the map for all the right reasons, as being a progressive district that is first with ideas."

To officially make it a Fair Trade district, the council would need to pass a resolution stating its support and committing to work towards meeting the minimum requirements within 12 months, serve Fair Trade tea and coffee at council functions and meetings and appoint a council liaison person to the steering group.

Ms Cutforth, who is also a district councillor, said the criteria were not arduous.

Several Whangarei shops, cafes, restaurants and supermarkets already sell Fair Trade products. Citizens Advice Bureau, the Golden Church and Manaia PHO are also aiming to make the Fair Trade criteria.

The concept fitted with Whangarei having the country's first, longest standing Growers Market and Fair Trade principles aligned closely with buy local, Ms Cutforth said.