In Channel Magazine we love highlighting people in our community who make a difference. Two local Devonport Peninsula people, Kate and Lauren, have created ‘Local Life NZ’ a social media entity doing similar online. We love what they do, so we’re now collaborating with them to include content in Channel Mag. This month they profile Mark Rainey, Di Humphreys, and Andy Thompson, as well as Buona Sera.
“You learn te reo Māori for a long time and then you finally speak it. It’s like a bird learning to fly - you take off, it’s a bit rough initially, but then you start to soar. There’s no better feeling.
My favourite expression is kia pai te haere or more colloquially in English, ‘go well’. It covers a lot of things. That’s the thing with te reo, you can never really get an exact translation. It’s all about the feeling.
I’m from a big Māori family in Taemaro Bay. We grew up listening to te reo Māori from the older generation and wider whānau, but I was never really fluent. I did a full immersion course at the Awataha Marae 15 years ago and it really opened my eyes. Now I really want to pass what I’ve learnt on to others - that’s how our language works. It’s all about the sharing. It’s not until you learn the language that you really see the Māori world. A lot of people have had their eyes closed for a long time.”
– Mark Rainey, te reo teacher.
Mark runs classes at Wakatere Sailing Club and the Devonport Community Centre. Last term 200 people attended Mark’s classes.
"I went in to have an eye test and came out with a job. I said to Pete (Stoute, the optometrist) that he really needed a shop front on the main street, and we’ve been here nearly four years now.
I’m not a professional window dresser -- I just love doing it. I saw the mop heads and thought I could do something with them, and then the brooms came along. I love ferreting around for stuff -- I’m a real op shop fan. My house is a real treasure trove, but I’m actually quite a minimalist at heart.
I do eight different window designs each year, including the four seasons. I think I bought up all of K-Mart’s plastic ducks for our current winter window -- you always need more than you’d think! The window’s a real talking point, and it certainly draws people in. I always add three small toys to represent the nationalities of all the staff who work here - a Kiwi, a Springbok and a British Bulldog.
I love it when I can hear children laughing about some of the quirkier things they can see in the window. That’s the real satisfaction I get from creating something visual -- it’s got to bring joy.”
– Di Humphreys, assistant at Devonport Optometrists
“If we can survive this, we can survive anything. The impact of COVID on the travel industry has been massive, but green shoots were just starting to emerge before this current lockdown.
The onset of Covid last year was just the start of our journey. While everyone else was enjoying walks on the beach, all of my team were fighting fires every single day.
I had to get my father on a plane to the UK last year just as the borders were closing around us. He’d lost both his parents - my grandparents - to COVID. That was tough.
One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was to make half my team redundant over a Skype call. All I wanted was to be with them. They were vulnerable and emotional but they understood. Not one of them argued or fought the situation. Honestly, I couldn’t wish for a better group of people.
Now it’s just me on my own at the Devonport store -- down from 11 staff and two stores before COVID. My customers still come in to say hello even if they’re not making a booking. That’s what a community’s all about.
I first came to New Zealand on a two-week holiday when I was 16, and never went back. That was 20 years ago. This is home now, and I’m in it for the long haul.”
Andy Thompson, owner/operator, House of Travel, Devonport.
Missing the Med
The recent cold snap has us all hankering for warmer climes, and with that comes memories of the Med with its light-dappled lunch terraces, food bursting with sun-drenched flavour and endless carafes of local wine.
With overseas travel plans on hold at the moment, you can get your Med fix right here on Devonport’s Victoria Road with a cluster of local restaurants offering a range of Italian, Greek and Middle Eastern fare.
Buona Sera, Devonport’s longest-running, locally-owned restaurant, transports you to a beachside cove on the Mediterranean coastline with its warm welcome and friendly vibe. In true Italian style, Buona Sera is a popular neighbourhood haunt for family celebrations with several generations of locals marking special occasions there over the years. Owners husband and wife Plamen and Mino view their regulars as family -- waiter Robbie first remembers coming to Buona Sera with his parents when he was ten years old.
Dishes can be pared-back for kids, ingredients are fresh and seasonal, and you can bring your own wine (for a small corkage fee). The fish-lovers’ favourite Spaghetti allo Scoglio comes bursting with prawns, shrimp, scallops, calamari and mussels on a bed of spaghetti and as a hearty dish is perfect for sharing. And if fish is your thing, the Neopolitan Linguine alla Pescatora is hard to beat. These are dishes that Italian nonne used to make -- using homemade egg pasta for lasagne, fettuccine, cannelloni, ravioli and gnocchi, served with bolognese sauce, meatballs and ragu.
Their crispy-based pizzas are popular for take-out as well as eat-in, and their four-flavour pizza bread makes a great starter (garlic, basil and capsicum pesto and parmesan) and great value too from just $8.
No trip to Italy is complete without gelato, and Buona Sera offers a range of flavours from tangy citron to creamy chocolate, along with firm favourites tiramisu and panna cotta.
PLEASE NOTE: at the time of going to press, Auckland was in Level 4 lockdown and all bars and restaurants are closed. Please check opening hours before visiting.
Buona Sera, 99 Victoria Road, Devonport, tel 09 445 8133
Open Tuesday – Sunday from 5.30pm till late.
Also available on Uber Eats.
Other restaurants offering Mediterranean food in Devonport include:
Nicolino’s, 103 Victoria Road, Devonport, tel 09 445 4444, open every day from 4-10pm
Akdeniz, 5/15 Victoria Road, Devonport, tel 09 600 2125, open every day apart from Wednesday
Portofino, 28 Victoria Road, Devonport, tel 09 445 3777, open every day