When Philippa Potaka came back from 20 years abroad, working in 5 star hotels, high end restaurants and setting up a Sydney Kiwi-inspired eatery, The Bach, she found herself dreaming of a business focused on home. The Auckland-born-and-raised ex-restauranteur chose to settle in Matakana because her parents had owned a beach house there when she was young and later settled there, it was close to her friends and family and because of it's status as a foodie destination. She had been visiting the area for half her life, had watched the region thrive and had always been a big supporter of the region and their products.
But it was only after moving there that Philippa found herself in the midst of some of the country's best artisanal homeware, condiments, treats and produce, and saw an opportunity to share the products with the world. She had friends in Sydney who own The Sydney Picnic Co. and admired what they did. And so the The Village Picnic was born.
The business makes carefully curated, locally sourced, sustainable picnic hampers and gift baskets. And she really means it when she says carefully curated, locally sourced and eco-friendly: she likes each basket, to be bespoke, tailored to the recipient's taste, style occasion and budget - right down to the handmade-in-Mangawhai kete (baskets) the artisan goods come in. She asks her customers about the recipient, whether the basket is a gift or for themselves, to make sure each curation of treats suits them to a tee.
Each item that goes into the baskets is carefully considered. The business behind each product must share that love of local and sustainable practices: "they must follow a similar sustainable story, with an eco-conscious emphasis, keeping to their product's natural form as much as possible," explains Philippa.
And though it's a labour of love, she considers it her mission: "I scour the country looking for the best artisan products," she says. "Small batch and handcrafted where possible."
The result is a product list that is a collection of products that are earthy and ecclectic but luxurious and a little bit decadent... You'll find Earth Candles made from upcycled beer and wine bottles alongside compostable insulated pouches from Ecoware, Matakana Manuka Smoked Salmon sustainably farmed in Akaroa, A Lady Butcher NZ charcuterie using natural seasoning for flavour, soy ink based stamps from No Issue, recycled Macrocarpa chopping boards from Matakana Sawmill.
Each product is an interesting, little proof of Kiwi ingenuity, and Philippa brings them together as gifts and hampers to create joy, while supporting the local people and environment of New Zealand. Each basket is a cornucopia that exactly fits each customer. The care she has is evident throughout every part of the process of her business and makes us feel like a little bit of that love goes into each basket. It's a heartwarming story of supporting local, and the power of our little country to create wonderful things - which, if we're reading the room of New Zealand, is exactly what we need right now.