Waiheke has a curious market, by that I mean full of curiosities, you know, stuff to make you curious and ask questions, or just stuff to gawp at and wonder why. HaHa! No one on Waiheke will turn a blind eye at me saying that, because the colourful characters and codgers who gather weekly at the market are what make this island such an amazing and interesting place to live.
Stalls cluster on the reserve around the Council-owned War Memorial building and further out on to the reserve during the summer months. Inside the building are stalls with a community focus, including the very active ‘activists’ table, art work by local artists, preloved clothing, and the tea room. The scones here are the stuff of dreams: freshly baked, crusty-bottomed, soft-crumbed, spread with homemade tangy jam and piled high with a pillow of whipped cream. Cor! Grab yourself a cuppa and a scone, or a coffee from the coffee cart, and find a spot outside and enjoy the vibe. Buskers thread their way through the crowds singing, dancing, playing the fiddle or guitar, adding a touch of theatre. Last Saturday a group of young girls were singing their soft little voices out (as opposed to their little hearts out!) to raise money for a house – pretty ambitious I thought, but good on them – until I read their sign more closely and saw it was for a horse. Oh, fair enough, they might get there. There are often more dogs than people at the market, or so it seems – dogs of all shapes and sizes, woolly or shorn, naked or colourfully adorned – and the characters with them, like the dogs, come in all shapes and sizes, woolly or shorn ….
Once you’ve got the measure of the place, open your purse and take away some mementos. It’s called giving. You get the great vibe of the market, the stallholders get to make a living. I kid you not, there is nothing worse than visiting a lively market and walking away empty-handed because you ‘weren’t sure’, or ‘is it a rip-off?’. Open up your wallet mate is what I want to shout (and sometimes do). Live dangerously! Buy up! Seriously … you might just find a treasure, or at least some delicious food for a picnic.
People tell me the lady at the front stall makes the best jam on Waiheke. That may be so. The stall is also home to children’s books and knitted tea cosies and bootees. I’m not sure what the plural is for more than one tea cosy but I’ve opted for cosies. Opposite her is the crystal lady. She arrives at 5.30am to set up and is the last to finish packing away her collection and leaving the market after 1.00pm.
Waiheke Community Gardens runs a lovely stall, exchanging fresh produce donated by local gardeners for koha (loot) which is given back to the community by donation to garden projects. Stalls like these are run by volunteers of course.
You’ll be able to fill your basket with local honey, sausages, kawa kawa balm, bees wrap, herbal vinegars, preserves and award-winning chutneys, smoked and black garlic, cheeses, fabulous bread, stuffed pepperdews and olives, fudge, gluten-free cookies, muesli, oils and juices, and on my stall, Shared Kitchen’s hazelnut dukkah, preserved lemons, marinated olives and gluten-free seed crackers. I share my stall with Katy Soljak, artist, poet and songstress, selling her legendary barbecue chilli sauce.
To sate your hunger, you can scoff up Babika’s sausage rolls, empanadas from the South American oven, or Hungarian, Turkish or Argentinian delights, or make a stop at the Gypsy Caravan.
Locally made soaps, candles, jewellery, macramé (made into jewellery too), whittled wooden objects, clothing new and old, second-hand books and collectibles make up the rest of the stalls.
The market is also New Zealand’s longest running zero waste market. Waste monitors will advise you which bin to use to dispose of recyclables and landfill rubbish. It keeps you mindful. I like that.
Ostend Market 76 Ostend Road
Saturdays 8.00am-1.00pm, or thereabouts (ya’ know, it’s Waiheke and the clocks work differently here).
Waiheke High School Christmas Market
And, to help support the building programme at our local school, Waiheke High School, Katy Soljak and I will be having a stall at the inaugural Christmas Market 30th November (11 Donald Bruce Road, Surfdale). Come along (with cash, because there are not many Eftpos machines), enjoy a glass of mulled wine and complimentary bites and get some great gifts and bargains for your December festivities.
Enquiries for stalls email@example.com