To get a feel for the Village People of Havelock North, take a table in a quiet corner of Maina café for a day. Sometimes it feels like the whole Village stops by.
Come early – that’s 7 on weekdays – when the gym bunnies bounce through, toned and glowing with good health, picking up a well earned and healthy snack between work-out and work.
First meetings of the day happen early, too. That’s businessmen and women networking and connecting over breakfast.
With 8 local schools and several kindys, day care centres and the Village supplying teachers across the region there’s an academic grab-and-go at Maina before the school day starts – coffee, a wholesome lunch, treats for a morning tea in the staff room… teachers at their best before the day begins, looking surprisingly un-harassed given the extraordinary role they perform.
Commuter coffees are fast in and out: with their flat white, mochaccino, cappuccino, americano…it’s a routine treat to start the day on the outside of a coffee, one of the little things that makes you glad to get up and go in the morning. They’ll grab a healthy sandwich to take away for lunch.
If you’re still at your perch after nine you’ll join the late breakfasters – leisurely mornings with newspapers spread – summertime visitors and holidaymakers. The locals come too, mid-morning. Havelock North has many small businesses and home workers and they meet in the café for community and interaction, new ideas shared over a pot of tea and freshly baked pastry.
The Village People come in for lunch – shop workers, accountants, lawyers, service providers, builders. We throw open the doors and they’ll sit outside in the sun, a break from the working day – calling out to friends walking past, watching the shoppers, the tourists, the parents and pre-schoolers.
Havelock North is the best base in Hawkes Bay for walks – everyone walks the Peak eventually, some daily. Cyclists love the Village, too, and tie up to the fence. They stop for something cold and fresh, and there’s a welcome bowl of water for thirsty dogs. One regular canine friend recently jumped up, put her head through the window and received a tasty reward.
In the afternoons the Village has a different character. Groups of friends meet, parents’ gather, the older Village residents go out for a constitutional. Our staff keep an eye out for those needing help settling at a table. We have a regular who takes a table just inside the patio doors, set back from the road but with a view of the activity and she has a thoughtful 4pm glass of wine and watches the dancing cranes as the new development takes shape opposite, checking the daily changes.
Later on, the Havelock crowd comes back and we get that beautiful evening light, the late summer glow as the festoon lights come on at the cusp of dark. Families, lovers, good friends, solo travellers all come in for evening meals and a glass of something delicious and local. We are spoilt in Hawkes Bay for fresh food and the locals and tourists have high expectations and a gratifying appreciation of good food.
Are you still on your perch, watching the Village People?
Aren’t they lovely?