Zealong Tea Estate held an extraordinary event on Monday 26 June 2017 attended by notable local and international public figures, and numerous stakeholders and role players within the NZ Tourism industry.
The purpose of the gathering was to pay tribute to the diverse cultures that played a pivotal role in creating the great “New Zealand Tea story” and to remember the time-honoured Matariki Festival.
The highlight of the morning’s activities began with a Kapahaka performance by award winning Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga students followed by a Karakia.
A number of larger-than-life bronze statues along the Tea Walk were revealed as follows:-
Waikato District Council Mayor Allan Sanson revealed Harold Nielsen, the Waikato Farmer, advisor, and trusted friend who initially guided Zealong through the conversion of the land from a dairy farm to a tea plantation.
Hamilton City Council Mayor Andrew King revealed Captain James Cook who was introduced to the native Manuka plant by the indigenous Maori of New Zealand, which he named Tea Tree.
Jason Dawson, CEO Hamilton & Waikato Tourism revealed Lu Yu, the famous Chinese “Sage of Tea” who wrote the definitive work on cultivating, making and drinking tea.
CHEN Jing, Consul for Economic and Commercial Affairs Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Auckland revealed Tea Horse Road, the 10 000km ancient trade route through Burma, Bengal, Nepal, the Sichuan Province and out to the rest of the world.
The journey concluded with the Maori Heritage statues revealed by Cilla Henry. As a sign of the great respect which Zealong has for local culture, The Maori statues have pride of place at the Zealong Pavilion and honour the much-valued, Manuka, Kawakawa, and Kumarahou trees, still used by Maori for health and well-being today.
Guests were served especially chosen Zealong teas at every stop along the way, each reflecting a significant feature of the particular statue being revealed, including the new limited edition Zealong RANGIATEA TEA, meticulously blended from native New Zealand flora with a long tradition of use for their unique health benefits. Rangiatea Tea, hailed as “tea from the heavens”, comprises Manuka and Kawakawa leaves.
The resident Chefs at the Tea House prepared a fusion menu inspired by traditional dishes from each culture represented in the sculptures. For example, British Beef and Cheese pies; Maori Ikamata and crispy potatoes with Kawakawa sour cream; Kiwi goat cheese fritters and mini pavlovas; and Chinese Soy Chicken with sesame seeds, Prawn dumplings and coconut tapioca pudding.