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Pōneke, Pani Popo’s and the NZ Food Story

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“I love this city, the hills, the harbour, the wind that blasts through it. I love the life and pulse and activity, and the warm decrepitude…..there’s always an edge here that one must walk which is sharp and precarious, requiring vigilance.” – Patricia Grace, prolific New Zealand writer

Touching down in the emerald city, as Witi Ihimaera calls it, my plane lands in the capital city Pōneke, Wellington, on a stunning late August day. I am greeted at the arrivals lounge by an old friend from St Mary’s College, Auckland, where we last saw each other over 30 years ago! Elaine gives me a huge welcoming hug and my special trip begins with a tour of infamous Peter Jackson’s Coco Roxy Cinema in Miramar. We then drive around to Shelly Bay which boasts a cool laidback Chocolate Fish Café, perfect outside area for young children to play, while the adults enjoy the relaxing oceanview and yummy home-made treats! We saunter next door, and chat with co-owner Jane Blackmore from Blackmore & Best Gallery to enjoy a large selection of contemporary New Zealand art. A definite #nzmustdo outing on your next Wellington stopover!

IMG-3057 Pōneke, Pani Popo's and the NZ Food Story

Elaine is a super passionate recycler and op shopper, so she takes me around Petone, home to many cute sewing machine shops, and quaint historical cottages. We decided on lunch atop the Petone Rowing Club, overlooking the foreshore, home to ultra-slick Seashore Cabaret Eatery. Best coffee yet, plus sexy meringues topped with lashings of freshly whipped cream and passionfruit sauce. Excellent customer service with smiles all round.

IMG-3059 Pōneke, Pani Popo's and the NZ Food Story

We then whiz into the heart of this creative city to discover more Kiwi gems in iconic Cuba St. There’s a plethora of recycled boutiques, legendary coffee-houses, bookshops and home to Logan Brown Restaurant. My main purpose this week was to experience as much of Welly On A Plate as possible, so we ducked in for a delicious Central Otago Pinot Gris and Rossini’s Revenge burger. Owner Steve Logan greeted us warmly, as Wellington Tourism were there filming a promotional video for the upcoming World Of Wearable Art show in town on September 21, tickets available here.

IMG-3060 Pōneke, Pani Popo's and the NZ Food Story

The highlight on this foodie calendar was attending the “Made By A Samoan” event, centrally located at the new L’affare Roastery, also  home to Kiwi organisation Eat My Lunch Wellington operation. The evening brought together a group of modern Pacific navigators, including Nina Potoi, with her stunning coconut oil skincare range Made by a Samoanand Andrew Matautia, who curated his amazing photographs depicting various shots inside Samoan coconut plantations.

IMG-3047 Pōneke, Pani Popo's and the NZ Food Story

We feasted on multi-talented Kiwi chef, Monique Fiso, creator of hiakai, incredible array of fine-dining Samoan canapés, including traditional pork buns and pani popo’s (coconut buns in a coconut sauce), happily devoured by Monique’s dad Siuai, who was celebrating his birthday with us!

IMG-3056 Pōneke, Pani Popo's and the NZ Food Story

KOKO Samoa created by Monique Fiso

We enjoyed Samoan inspired drinks lovingly prepared by Coco Roxy’s best cocktail maker maestro Ray Letoa, and smooth sounds enhancing the ambience by DJ Raw.

Final day of WOAP, was the third annual ConversatioNZ symposium at Victoria University. Throughout the day we heard inspiring speakers talking about their kai (food) stories. Rachel Taulelei CEO of Maori food company Kono with her “Beyond Haka + Hangi” speech, reiterating the importance of authenticity and responsibility within each of us towards ensuring the health of our whenua (land) and our awa (rivers), to create a sustainable future for our future generations. To always keep “kaitiakitanga” (guardianship) at the forefront of all our actions.

Another amazing speaker was Taranaki born chef Ben Shewry, from Attica Restaurant in Melbourne. He spoke about “Not Making Excuses”, and shared with us many insightful moments that have shaped his illustrious culinary career. This quote really resonated with me: “Attica is the ever-evolving combination of everything I love in Life.”

IMG-3061 Pōneke, Pani Popo's and the NZ Food Story

ConservatioNZ has now joined forces with Restaurant Association of NZ and rebranded itself as #EatNZ. This collective of New Zealand’s best chefs, producers, food media, event organisers, and tourism operators are committed to developing this korero (conversation) where all Kiwis can become involved, therefore deepening and strengthening our truly unique food story.

Koru Enterprises is very excited to launch distinctively unique indigenous foodie and art tours throughout Aotearoa as we support the ecotourism movement. We would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and comments, so please join us on your favourite social media channels. Visit our boutique NZ travel and artisan gift company where we market a wide range of small Kiwi businesses on our strong digital platforms. Subscribe to our quarterly e-news to keep updated with lots of amazing NZ happenings!

Safe Travels wherever life may take you.  


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