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Old cottage gets new lease on life



Riki & Nina articleThe mystery of the old kauri cottage on land bordering the river across from Waipu township is at last to be revealed.

Over the past two years locals have watched and wondered as the 130-year-old cottage was first positioned, then completely renovated on the site known locally as ‘the pageant ground’ and close to where the first Nova Scotian settlers landed in 1854.

The cottage has its own special pedigree. Sited where a flax mill on the Mander estate was believed to have operated, the cottage did not have an address until Mr Mander subdivided in the 1920s creating Porowini Ave, Whangarei, and was part of the Philpott and Rive building company depot, and later Ford’s bakery.

Now, with an external face-lift and an extensive internal revamp the historic and picturesque building now more grandly houses a boutique skin health and beauty clinic at the front and a steam punk espresso bar opening onto a large deck at the back.

Nina Quan and Riki Taiaroa are the inspiration behind Waipu’s newest venture.

A family that loves working together
The talented couple and their family are already well known in the district. Nina is an award-winning skin health professional, while Riki is an expert barista who came second in the Northland champs last year. Their son Benji (18) who will also work in the business was Northland junior barista of the year in 2016, runner-up in the open champs this year and won the first Northland Latte Art competition. Daughter Jade (16) has a passion for ballet and a desire to make dance a career, and will also help out where needed.

Nina’s skin clinic will feature specialist skin rejuvenation services using some of the most advanced products and technology, as well as other beauty services such as waxing, eye works and eye brow feathering or microblading.

Riki’s espresso bar is named after the rune Feoh, a symbol meaning cattle, and also associated with prosperity, wealth and abundance.

Outside cottageRiki will open during what he calls the ‘fringe’ hours – 7am to 10am and again from 4pm to 7pm – catering for people who want excellent coffee outside mainstream cafe hours. His is a truly unique method of coffee preparation, designed to allow ‘infinite flexibility’ in the coffee his customers can experience.

Fusion couple, traditional food
Although not a typical cafe with a full food menu, Feoh Espresso will offer a few very unique foods.

Nina, born in Saigon and from a family of foodies brings her traditional fresh Vietnamese rice paper rolls with her grandmother’s secret recipe dipping sauce to the menu.

Riki, bought up in Mosgiel could not be overshadowed and has his family’s delicious cheese rolls on offer.

“At our age, we only want to do what we’re passionate about and what we’re really good at. We find that when we are authentic and put ourselves into the things we do, people feel this and love it too.”

A very special fit-out
The couple have carried out most of the work on the building themselves, retaining as many of the original materials as possible, and helped by family and friends. Having run similar businesses before, Riki and Nina know what works for them so have designed and fit out the espresso bar and beauty clinic to suit the way they work. The building is furnished with an eclectic mix of pieces they have collected during their travels like antique ceiling fans from an old French villa in Vietnam, hand carved wedding couple from Indonesia and an old French hand beaten copper mixing bowl which Nina had turned into a hand basin for her treatment room.

“This is as much for us as it is for our clients. Our work is our life and vice versa, so while we’re at work, we may as well be surrounded by what we love, that way it doesn’t feel like work.”

Riki makes coffee-823Pursuit of excellence
Characteristic of the couple’s shared pursuit of excellence, Nina and Riki will not stop once their businesses are open. Nina will continue her worldwide research into the best scientifically based skin products and Riki will pick up his second passion, knife making. He started forging knives in Sydney, taught by Tasmanian John Hounslow-Robinson, and will operate under the name of Narwhal Knives. He hopes to have a small but unique selection of knives, particularly ‘one-off’ knives for food preparation, for sale alongside his coffee.

Riki and Nina are aiming for business from within the local Waipu community.

“There are great choices in Waipu for tourists and visitors, but before the day begins and when the day ends, where can the locals go that is special and just for them?” says Riki.

With Nina’s business mainly by appointment only and with Riki working the ‘fringe’ hours, the couple say they are ‘there for the people of Waipu. If visitors find us that’s fine, but our focus is the local community.’

n On Sunday February 11, between 12pm and 2pm, Riki and Nina will open the whole cottage to the public. It’s an opportunity for the local community to see how it all came together, without needing to book a treatment and have a coffee.

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