A petition to remove goods and services tax (GST) from food started its journey from Northland to Wellington on Saturday.

Organiser Grant Morgan will work down the country from Kaitaia to Wellington asking people to sign the petition after polls showed 80 per cent of people wanted food to be free of GST.

He said when Finance Minister Michael Cullen was approached twice to debate the issue publicly, he ignored them.

Both the Labour Government and National had shown an “extreme disinterest” in removing the tax from food.

“They have more or less said it doesn’t matter how many signatures we collect, they are going to ignore the result.”

Mr Morgan said from Kaitaia today, where they began collecting signatures, that both Labour and National were full of “spin” when they said it was logistically too hard to remove the tax.

He said it was heartbreaking to hear stories of people having to choose between food and medicine, or food and the rent, as food prices continued to rise in supermarkets.

“We are hearing from people everywhere who feel it is immoral for food to be taxed. One Maori woman in Mangere said taxing food is like taxing the air we breathe so there is very strong feelings about it.”

The petition was reported to already have 20,000 signatures.

He said New Zealand was only one of a “tiny handful” of countries in the world which taxed food.

Experts had told him that removing the tax involved reprogramming computers and was quite easy.

The petition organisers were due to be in 16 North Island centres before handing the petition to the Maori Party in front on the steps of Parliament on October 3.