10 Questions with Lauraine Jabobs


Q1: It’s been 13 years since your last book on the Matakana region was published. What made you want to write a new version of it?

The development and growth in the area has been phenomenal with many more cafés, restaurants wineries, breweries and interesting businesses set up that made it important to celebrate the region again. Local tourism has become really attractive to New Zealanders and it has been great fun creating a book that showcases the many treasures of the area for visitors and locals alike. The stories of the ‘Local Heroes’ chapter are so interesting. It is a book to take home and treasure, or to have handy for as a reference in local homes and baches.


Q2: Your belief in the special nature of this district has only cemented over that time. Can you put your finger on its special character?

The wonderful outdoorsy lifestyle is based on numerous pristine beaches, lovely walks and regional parks, golf courses, boating and much more. There’s a true community feel, an amazing array of activities that appeal to all ages, and it’s an area where wine, food and art all come together.


Q3: So many new food and horticulture-based businesses have developed in the intervening years. What do they have in common?

The area’s subtropical climate and rich fertile soils make it especially attractive, and there’s loads of community support. These businesses are created by folk who wanted to leave the city to embrace the rural life. They have brought unique skills and operate with innovation and vision. I have written their stories and Ken Downie has done an amazing job capturing their personalities with his camera.


Q4: Your book highlights how the Matakana Farmers’ Market has been a springboard for so many producers. What’s the power of that market?

With a dedicated certified kitchen and a unique permanent structure, it attracts locals early in the morning and then becomes hectically busy mid-morning with out of town visitors. It’s the perfect place for trialling, testing and tasting new ideas and produce. It was voted the most popular market in the country in the 2021 Outstanding New Zealand Food Producer Awards.


Q5: There are 12 delicious recipes in the book. What’s your approach to cooking when you are at your beach house in Ōmaha?

I love to cook everything local when I am at the beach. Barbecues, salads and local fish, smoked seafood and shellfish are central to my menu and I am out and about daily seeking the freshest produce from the market or the amazing farm-stands on the Ōmaha Flats.


Q6: What’s your favourite locally grown summer vegetable and how do you like to use it?

The freshly harvested potatoes grown in the rich peat soils are more flavoursome than those grown anywhere else. I bake them, roast them and even make chips occasionally. Of course I have included a couple of recipes that are absolute favourite: smoked salmon with baby potatoes, beans and lime, and a tasty potato, fennel, mozzarella and anchovy tart on crisp, flaky puff pastry.


Q7: The area has become so popular as a place to live and for visitors. Do you worry that it could become overdeveloped?

It’s inevitable that it will grow, and new faces and new skills are always made welcome. Some blocks of land are being developed for new, tasteful housing but my biggest fear is the loss of vital productive horticultural land.


Q8: What’s one new thing you learned about the district while researching the book?

There are so many things! I loved the stories of the people I met, and the stories of the food, especially the bounty from the sea that surrounds the district. I loved learning about the exceptional pouwhenua carved by local members of the local iwi Ngāti Manhuriri and placed at Ōmaha and Tāwharanui. Those pou are now my grandsons’ new friends — they greet them by name.


Q9: Oysters from the Mahurangi — what’s their superpower?

Each and every oyster has its own distinct taste. A taste that reflects its terroir or tūrangawaewae. Mahurangi oysters are delicious, both sweet and savoury, and are treasured by discerning restaurants throughout New Zealand.


Q10: Favourite beach — or is that a secret you want to keep?

Ōmaha Beach! It is certainly no secret. Its almost 7 kilometres of white sand to cover if you walk from one end to the other and back, and the clear water for swimming or surfing makes it almost perfect. The number of days in the year when it’s crowded can be counted on one hand.