A mere half hour ride from Auckland’s city centre, Waiheke Island is New Zealand’s never never land – it’s hard to tell who actually lives there and what they do. Known for beaches and wine, the island attracts a combination of the super rich and eccentric hippies and is largely supported by travellers on working holiday visas. Evidenced by my friend Cat’s first comments when she picked me up at the ferry terminal. “Oh yes, I’m working barefoot here,” she said when she saw me staring at her muddy feet. She is a vineyard hand at the Italian owned Poderi Crisci on the island’s remote east side. “I need to show you the pictures of our staff party last week. It was on a super yacht, unlimited champagne.”
Jade Temepara’s Kakanō Cafe is a modern initiative that is novel because it celebrates a return to the methods of the past. She is teaching skills that have been forgotten and re-planting seeds that have been lost. The cafe includes a seed to plate garden with heritage produce and an on site cookery school with workshops, classes, and speaker events. In my former job with Life in Vacant Spaces I was involved during the cafe’s set-up and I saw the excitement build around the space. The homeless men that hung out at Pete’s Landing across the street helped her build the garden beds. “They think it’s their pad,” she says. The librarians at the National Archive next door gave her their files and research of heritage produce and Maori food preparation. Everyone got involved – backpackers, neighbourhood residents, Jade’s family members. Here she tells me about her family, her ideas about New Zealand cuisine, and the future of Kakanō.
Jade Temepara is no stranger to getting things done. Her initiative Hand Over A Hundy gave families resources and mentoring to start home gardens. She told me about a corporate office that approached her and wanted to create a garden of their own. They had set up a committee and began scheduling a series of meetings to discuss their plans. When they told Jade that they might be able to start on the ground in a year, she excused herself and left. “I need to go start a garden right now, on my way home.” Her current space on Peterborough Street took more than an afternoon to set up, but I watched her team transform a vacant rubble lot into Kakanō Cafe and Cookery School within mere months. Here she talks about indigenous cuisine, the importance of food in community, and Kakanõ Cafe and Cookery School.
Hospo family dinner is a beloved tradition in restaurants that actually care about their staff. It’s an opportunity for the chef to trial new dishes that might be too experimental for the restaurant menu, and a chance for the staff to sit down and enjoy each others company with some good food and drinks. Every Thursday, Chef Aliesha McGilligan puts on a Chef’s Table lunch where she opens that treasured experience to the public – anyone can come. Each week she puts together meals above and beyond the cafe cabinet and creates an atmosphere where neighbourhood tradies sit next to artists working at the XCHC, backpackers and foodies and CBD office workers all share a table and pass the plates around. Here, she tells me about Chef’s Table, her food philosophy, and what it’s like to be a chef in the middle of an arts space.