Love for the land : Respect for the sea
We have come to realise over the past few years that relationships are always a lot easier when you have similar core values. This is one of the reasons why everyone at Kono feels like whanau. To really appreciate our relationship we have developed with this company we need to take you back to the start.
2014: We had just been announced as the winners of Masterchef New Zealand, the courier arrives with twelve incredible bottles of wine from Tohu and a letter from Ropata Taylor.
In the letter he explained that he had watched the finale and just wanted to send us something to congratulate us for what we had done. It was then we realised winning this reality TV show meant something to others as well. The gift was that, a gift. A no strings attached congratulations from a company we would come to find out was going to be a huge part of the next chapter in our career.
That same year we were invited down to Te Tau Ihu to get to know the company more personally. It is a trip we will never forget. Mainly because of this person...
<-----Meg Malcolm (with the grey scarf)
We had already done some research on Wakatu and found out the values they have are values that we have. What we did not know was how we would feel after being with Meg and the rest of the whānau we met during our time at the top of the South Island.
Before we left, Meg emailed through a full three day itinerary with names and photos of people we would meet. Kasey was already highly impressed with the level of detail in the itinerary. She had organised a mihi whakatau at the head office with board members and lots of other staff, a tasting lunch at their Awatere Valley vineyard with Johnny their Aronui winemaker. We then had a pōwhiri at Te Awhina Marae, a water taxi ride into the Marlborough sounds so we could learn from Rōpata about their connection to the land on our way to stay at a luxury resort. It was all so genuine, the people, the interactions, the hospitality.
The next day after breakfast we headed back to Nelson where we met with Bruce their chief winemaker for Tohu wine. We enjoyed lunch there and looked out over the land where their orchards, vineyards and other crops grew. We learned they cared for our environment the way that we do. We stayed at the famous Hotel d'Urville in Blenheim and were taken to dinner at Hans Herzog, somewhere we had always wanted to eat.
On our last day we were taken out on the boats to look at all of their mussel farms. It was a part of the country we had not seen. It was breathtaking out on the crystal blue water where it seemed like the sea and the sky didn't have a beginning or an end.
People speak of manaakitanga a lot but this experience was on of those times when we truly realised what that word meant. From that point on we had formed more than a business partnership with this incredible company, we had built a lifelong relationship that continues to flourish to this day. We have done countless events with Wakatū/Kono/Tohu/Aronui (they are a multifaceted, super talented organisation) and at every single one we have felt that manaakitanga.
So when Meg asked us to be part of the launch of Kono wine in New Zealand, yes was the only answer we had....
... and what a night it was. It was held in Silo 6 in Auckland, each silo had something different in it. There was the bar area where you were greeted with a glass of Kono Sauvignon Blanc, Marcus Winter was in another Silo which projected his sand art onto the huge walls (that is his mahi on the first video), Kiri Nathan was in another silo with her world class garments. Martin Bosley was in the kai silo with us serving up fresh seafood from Yellow Brick Road we were in charge of the canapes. We made chicken liver parfait on charcoal wafers with kawakawa relish and freeze dried plum, smoked beef on crispy wonton with smoked kewpie and black garlic gel, truffled mini stuffed potatoes with mushroom duxelle and creme fraiche and chocolate terrine with raspberry and fresh cream. In the main silo were 360 degree projections telling stories from Kono, sharing their philosophies and values. Then finally a silo with comfy leather sofas to sit back and take in the whole event.
It is an honour to be part of the Kono whānau and we look forward to what the future brings for us. Also, Rachel Taulelei the CEO is (the only one not wearing black in the photos) is one of the most on to it people in the world. Just saying.