A late summer afternoon in the north, in fact near the north of the north. On the road in the Bay of Islands, following a trail of campervans exploring the far north. And, as luck would have it, it’s the afternoon of the weekly Bay of Islands Farmers Market at Paihia. The Village Green is the place to be, for a market with a view of the water, and helicopter arrivals.
A jewel to be sure
Paihia has been called the jewel of the Bay of Islands. On a sunny summer day, it’s a jewel to be sure. And the gems of the jewel, this market afternoon, are the Northland produce and products on display.
It’s a small, but perfectly formed, collection of all you need for delicious tasting of Northland’s finest. There’s extremely fine bread (think walnut and honey, or potato), macadamia nuts, hand-made chocolates, avocados, local eggs, delicious cheeses (soft and hard), and more to boot.
And, to finish the wander around, there’s a delightful caravan, with a delicious selection of fresh blueberries and frozen berry ice creams. Make sure you come and visit the orchard, the caravan owner says. The berries are so good, we may very well do that.
As the sign says: fresh, local, authentic. The way we like it.
An early history
And, in the wander around, it’s worth a little reflection on where we are.
This is the place of New Zealand's early pākehā history, the place of the first European settlers. You could say Paihia's European history began in 1769, when Captain James Cook sailed into the harbour and named it Bay of Islands. The helicopters buzzing in, harbour-side, across the road from the village green market, signal other arrivals these days….
What’s in the name
Why Paihia, what’s in that name. It’s a little uncertain, but one idea says it came from early missionary Reverend Henry Williams. The story goes that, on first reaching the area, he knew only a few Māori words. But he did know “pai”, meaning “good”. So, when he arrived with his Maori guide, he said “pai here”.
Good indeed, more than good - excellent, in fact.