A Mongolian man has been scoping out Food Rescue Northland's operation before he heads home to set up something similar.

Zorigt Bayantur hails from the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar, and has been living in New Zealand for four years with his wife Undariy Tumursukh and sons Arikhat Zorigt, 12, and Anand Zorigt, 6.

Turmursukh has been completing her PhD at AUT in Auckland, and it was during that time she got to know Whangarei's Carol Peters. The pair, and their families have become friends.

Peters set up Food Rescue Northland last year which collects surplus food from Whangārei growers and retailers and distributes it to community groups who support people in need.


Bayantur said Peters told him about the project and it struck a chord with him.

"We could do the same in Mongolia."

The country had a democratic peaceful revolution in 1990, which saw the country move out of its socialist economy.

Bayantur said it is a transition which is ongoing.

"Some cope with the transition, some not."

He said many people live in gers around the city. A ger is a traditional nomadic tent which has no central heating, water, sanitation or infrastructure.

"I see there is a need. Food is very important to us because of the weather conditions," he said.

Temperatures can range from 30C to minus 30C. He said it is very hard to grow apples and other vegetables out in the open, but cucumbers and tomatoes can be grown in green houses.


"Everything else is imported from China."

He said as a result the shelf life of these products can be "fragile". He said meat is not a problem because there are plenty of cattle in the country, but he wants to see better nutrition for people in Mongolia.

Bayantur looked closely at how Food Rescue manager Peter Nicholas uses the website to manage the food and its distribution. Bayantur and his family are moving back to Mongolia next month and he plans to see where there's available food and start building relationships with people.

"I see a clear picture. I have some ideas, I have to work on the ideas and see whether it's feasible or not."