A pictorial history of the event with some interviews of a handful participants for good measure.
I’m extremely proud to have been part of Team Eke in realising this event in Eketahuna. My personal vision was to offer a cheese event that was about building our community. No corporate sponsors or pseudo snobbery. I hate that shit. 🙂
Once upon a time, across little young New Zealand, a proud regional cheesemaking tradition thrived. Remember Saxelby Stilton, a cheese produced in Woodlands Invercargill from 1890 – 1935. It was exported all around the world and praised for its superior flavour. New Zealand’s most famous and most unknown cheese in its native land. These days, little young New Zealand is world famous overseas for its milk powders, infant formulas, block cheddars & assorted commodity industrial dairy products. The good NZ farm cheese, the cheese with a long characterful flavour and complexity, continues to be off the radar to many foreign folks and locals alike. This festival is a chance to explore and connect with a farm cheesemaking tradition kiwis once celebrated across New Zealand.
Like Saxelby Stilton, NZ has a modest history of new world farm cheese production relative to the old world cheesemaking traditions overseas. Good NZ cheese is one of the few locally produced foodstuffs where the best cheese is only available in NZ, not exported like most of everything else is. The regulatory requirements to export unfairly work against small NZ cheesemakers, particularly so for NZ cheesemakers producing raw milk cheese. No one stumbles into cheesemaking in New Zealand, you have to go way out of your whey to do it. MPI make it so much harder. If left unchallenged, food police will regulate cheese into a hermetically sealed and tasteless existence. The irony is, NZ is in this deliciously good cheese bubble and many folks don’t know it.
This is a small cheese fest in a small part of provincial NZ that has made a big impact on the state of veritable raw farmhouse NZ cheese. Cheese folks are gathering to celebrate and high five the unsung heroes of NZ small scale cheesemaking that persist in producing and preserving traditional cheese in NZ. While it might not be considered in the national interest, we think it is important that there is a vibrant cheesemaking movement in NZ.