Matakana Wine & Food Festival

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Paul Walker is fizzing with enthusiasm. On the first weekend of February he'll open the inaugural Matakana Food and Wine Festival, and he's very happy about this. Slightly stressed, but happy. Paul moved to Omaha three and half years ago with his wife and daughter Kate. He owns a serious events management business, staging large-scale conferences both here and in Australia. But his background is all about food – and that’s his real passion. He has an extensive background in hotel management, over 1,000 cookbooks at home, and he likes to cook five-course degustation dinners for his friends and family. For fun.

He's known for a while that he'd like set up a really great food and wine festival in Matakana. He saw the niche, and knew it could work, but he also knew he needed to get to know his crowd first. So for the last few years, Paul has been on every community committee that could use him. From the Omaha Beach Community Committee, to Matakana Coast Wine Country and Matakana Coast Tourism, this is a man who has done the hard yards round the meeting table.

For this festival, there have been some very large hurdles to jump, including funding (hardly any), applications, resource consents and plans required for everything the council can dream up. Paul will count himself lucky if he breaks even. But he's nearly there. The Country Park will host a new wine and food event to be proud of.

"This year will be a small beginning to something that I want to turn into an ongoing annual festival for Matakana," Paul says with admirable intensity. "One that celebrates the amazing local wine, beer, cider and food we've got here. I want to help grow local businesses – and hopefully create the infrastructure for other events throughout the year too – particularly in the winter months."

The much-loved Fruit Loop Walk and Run fundraiser (see page **) will be back on the Saturday morning of the Wine and Food Festival weekend. Tickets for this family walk/run through local vineyards and farms will also include entry into the MWFF, so once you've done your walk, you can indulge in some outstanding local food and beverages. Book those tickets now and let's get behind it.

www.mwff.co.nz

Matakana Wine and Food Festival  |  5/6 February 2016  |  Country Park | 1 Omaha Flats Rd, Matakana

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