Hawkes Bay: Rakai Karaitiana and Melaina Newport

Click to enlarge
Melaina Newport and Rakai Karaitiana in their Ahuriri store.

Melaina Newport and Rakai Karaitiana in their Ahuriri store. Image: Jeff Brass

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Karaitiana and an assistant at work in the studio.

Karaitiana and an assistant at work in the studio. Image: Jeff Brass

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Prints in progress.

Prints in progress. Image: Jeff Brass

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Works by Karaitiana and other local artists.

Works by Karaitiana and other local artists. Image: Jeff Brass

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Prints for sale at Aroha & Friends.

Prints for sale at Aroha & Friends. Image: Jeff Brass

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Items for sale at Aroha & Friends.

Items for sale at Aroha & Friends. Image: Jeff Brass

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The façade of Aroha &
Friends.

The façade of Aroha & Friends. Image: Jeff Brass

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Clothes by New Zealand designers and locally-made art and homewares.

Clothes by New Zealand designers and locally-made art and homewares. Image: Jeff Brass

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A painting in the store, a converted warehouse.

A painting in the store, a converted warehouse. Image: Jeff Brass

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Screen prints in the House of Aroha studio.

Screen prints in the House of Aroha studio. Image: Jeff Brass

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It’s 10 years since Rakai Karaitiana and Melaina Newport moved back to their birthplace of Hawke’s Bay. “We had this concept about opening a design store,” says Karaitiana, 40. “We hibernated for a year and then we found a tiny little shop space in Napier. We approached people that we liked and liked their work and they got behind what we were doing. In 10 months we outgrew the space and moved to a new 200m² store.”

These days the married couple (and parents of three children) have an even bigger space in a refurbished warehouse in the Napier suburb of Ahuriri. Their shop, Aroha & Friends, stocks clothing by Zambesi, Nom*D, Karen Walker and other New Zealand designers as well as homewares and fine art by local artists.

Out the back, in a large studio, the other side of the business, House of Aroha, is based and includes Karaitiana’s paintings, screen prints and letterpress. Newport, who is the financial controller of the business, is getting back into photography (both majored in photography at university); Karaitiana is currently working on a mural for the exterior of the Museum, Theatre, Gallery Hawke’s Bay. “We’re not business people; we’re creative,” says Newport, 40. “We’ve learnt a lot and now we’re at the point that the retail does its thing. We’re here for our family. There’s a very strong Mãori community here.” “It was a really good move for our kids,” Karaitiana says of the decision to leave Auckland’s Grey Lynn a decade ago. “Hawke’s Bay is not about the night-life; it’s about the environment. You can go bush pretty quickly. It’s so open; it’s epic.”

Karaitian and Newport recommend:

  • A trip to Waimarama Beach
  • Heading up the Tukituki, Ngaruroro and Tutaekuri Rivers for trout fishing and camping
  • Shopping at Gather; a Napier store that sells homewares and textiles

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