24 May 2011


my city: hawkes bay by kirsha whitcher

Story by Claire Sullivan

Founder of the Hawkes Bay based fashion label Salasai introduces her favourite haunts.

Fashion designer Kirsha Whitcher is renowned for her strong and tailored silhouettes. Launching her own fashion label Salasai in 2006 after a stint based in Melbourne as head of womenswear for streetwear brand Mooks, Kirsha has been a celebrated fixture at New Zealand Fashion Week since the inception of her label. Here she takes us through her favourite spots in her hometown Hawkes Bay.

My good friend and artist Martin Poppelwell resides in Hawkes Bay. It’s important for me to have a collective of creative friends around who support each other. Martin gave me my first pattern cutting table when I started Salasai in 2006 and I still owe him a suit for an amazing piece of artwork I’ve had for a few years now. He is a raw talent that we are lucky to have here in the Bay.
Martin’s work is available from Black Barn Art Gallery here.

Everyone that comes to Hawkes Bay has to experience Pipi’s café in Havelock North. It’s one of those places that is a home away from home.  You always know someone eating there when you arrive and the staff remember you by name. I love its shabby chic appeal, its amazing pizzas, honest flavoursome menu and the ‘help yourself to drinks’ fridge. My fav pizza is Pollo with squeezed lemon and the Pipi’s platter complete with olives, cheese and freshly made Pipi’s pizza bread doused in olive oil – it’s a must. (16 Joll Road, Havelock North)

Maraetotara waterfall is Hawkes Bay’s hidden secret and is situated 10 minutes out of Havelock North on the way to Ocean beach. Pack a lunch and take a river side trek along the riverbank until you reach the waterfall. It even has a 5m high rope swing for the brave. It’s a beautiful serene spot popular with the locals in summertime.

Napier Antiques and Jewellery Centre is located on Tennyson Street in Napier and this little gem has one offs of everything from records, jewellery, clothing, china, books and lamps – all with an art deco period feel. I love getting lost in this store, which is easily done.  Give yourself a few hours to search through the myriad of memorabilia. (63 Tennyson Street, Napier)

Black Barn Art Gallery has gained a reputation as Hawkes Bay’s leading ‘white wall’ gallery showcasing works by noted NZ artists in a beautiful space that is small and humble next to Black Barn vineyard and restaurant on the outskirts of Havelock North. Black Barn also hosts a ‘Black Barn Market’ on Saturdays in the summertime sporting whitebait fritters, Hohepa cheeses, fresh organic fruit and produce, local olive oils and Hawthorne ground coffee. (Black Barn Road, RD12 Havelock North)

I love the Aroha and Friends Store proudly owned by my cousin Rakai Karaitiana and his wife Melaina Newport. Founded in 2005 it is Hawkes Bay’s finest high fashion design and community store stocking the best of NZ designers. The industrial space with a homely Kiwiana feel, hosts brands like Natures Baby, Zambesi, Karen Walker, Leanna Coully homewares, Nick Von K, Workshop, Nom.D, and of course, Salasai. Rakai also produces his own graphics that you can choose to put onto organic cotton tees, and complete with the printing press in full view, it adds a nice personalised touch. (14 Hastings Street, Napier)

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