New Zealand – Art’s Centre Farmer’s Market


Celebrate Summer at the Arts Centre Farmer’s market

Firstly, a flashback to the massive earthquake of 2010 and 2011, that shook Christchurch city. It destroyed many homes and old wooden buildings in the city Centre, including the stately spire on the Cathedral and Gothic Arts Centre. The grounds next to the Centre, once held the open-air  farmer’s market. My prayers are with the people of this beautiful city.

The historic Arts Centre market was my favourite hang-out, it was my first Farmer’s market and stunningly scenic! Locals and tourists came to shop, eat and relax in the lively atmosphere. The tourists wandered around the market – a fun place to keep the camera focussed. As for the Kiwi peoples ( the Pakeha and the Maori) it was a great way to spend weekend morning.  A family outing to browse the boutique wines and cheese on display. Farmer’s markets are becoming ever popular in almost every town of New Zealand  – it’s a cheaper, healthier, fresher way to life!

Arts Centre Building, Christchurch

Arts Centre Building, Christchurch

Large blue and white umbrellas shaded the make-shift stalls. Children ran between stalls, picked up souvenirs, tugged at parents screaming for  ice-cream treats. I noticed how their dressing changed according to the season – from dark grey, maroon and black during winter to more cheerful summer tones – green, pink, orange  and yellow. They did actually take cues from nature. Every well manicured summer garden in town was boasting of  white lilies and freshias, yellow buttercups and bright pink fuchsia flowers. This is something I have to learn, to dress in seasonal colours, just like the local Kiwi people.

Ah ! look at the variety of  fresh-baked breads, organic vegetables, cookies and home-made biscuits. Not to mention the  famed Sauvignon Blanc and Cloudy Bay among some New Zealand varieties of wine. Being part of the Arts Centre stalls selling souvenirs and hand -made crafts and pottery was available too. Paua shell jewellery, wooden toys and garden plants boxed in cute little black containers made this market spring with summer energy!

Farmer’s markets are typically European country-style affairs, a recent approach to sell local produce directly to consumers. Probably started by the immigrant Europeans that have settled here. The European immigrants or Pakehaarrived to New Zealand from Scotland, Holland and other European countries.Their food and dress habits are culturally different from  the indigenous Maori.  As a warrior tribe, the Maori often sailed the seas. Fish, whale meat, bird , sweet potato or Kumara were staple food called Kai shared by the tribe or clan, there were no market gatherings.

The chocolate chip cookies at another stall shone like dark brown eyes, beckoning children. New Zealand prides in fresh dairy products and Edmonds’ baking flour is very popular. Enterprising women and children,combine flour and butter to bake cookies and cakes at home. A great idea to teach and involve children and get them to earn some pocket-money too. Some children celebrate their birthday’s selling chocolate brownies, and gingerbread cookies.

A young girl selling at her market stall

A young girl selling at her market stall

Photo credit :http://facebook/christchurch-farmer’s market

You can find Kiwi  home-made cookie recipes on :

Assorted breads

Assorted breads

I call this corner – The bread paradise. Here stalls filled with  hearty multi-grain, rich whole meal, feather light white bread, assorted dessert rolls like croissants, chocolate rolls and apricot filled buns. Great effort to produce them in small quantities in home-style factories or machines.  So fresh, so crisp and great with salads and soups. Be an early worm, or  the breads would vanish from the tables!

So festive is the summer ! Lively guitar music played by the local street performers accompanied by spontaneous toe tapping and body shakes light up the far corner. European summer markets mostly feature such dance and music performances.

Two cultures, One country ! Biculturalism exists in New Zealand.The Maori people are  different from the immigrant Europeans – in colour, race, traditions, food, folklore and even clothing. The two races are – European one fair-skinned with light eyes, blond hair and the Maori  heavier built, dark-skinned, with curly hair. They traditionally sport tattoos on their arms, face and body, a distinguishing mark of their Iwi or clan. Markets are a great place to witness cultures, food and seasonal produce. Only when one interacts with the locals making small conversations, do you get a glimpse of local cultures and people. 


A tattoo design on the arm tells a unique story: Polynesian, Maori culture

The Maori lady,with long tattoos on her arm and face, sat at this jewellery stall. She was selling items made from Paua ( Maori word for Abalone shell).  The soft glows of blue, indigo and pink of Paua caught the summer rays and sparkled rainbow colours on the straw covered wall of the stall. The Paua is  Taonga or treasure from the sea and is used for spiritual and decorative purposes. 

The lady was weaving a Harakeke straw basket and singing a beautiful  waiata/ song.

 Aio ki te Aorangi , Aroha ki te Aorangi……..

You can listen Maori waiata here: and here:

Cockleshells Paua sold in New Zealand.     Paua jewellery

This stall was a favourite with tourists shopping for cheap or artificial souvenirs. Handing me a beautiful Paua shell, the elderly lady explained how was used as good luck charm. Can it tell me stories of history and culture ? I thought, holding it to my ear.

And there were more stalls with home-made soaps, candles, jam jars and of course variety of delicious cheese. Summer markets truly are a great way to shop, talk and savour brewed coffee and warm sandwiches served by the near-by moving vans. Or head to the park for a picnic. 

Next time you take a look at a market and tell me what interests you ? Did you learn any recipe? Did you interact with the local community? Or maybe you bumped into a cart of ripe tomatoes? 

Boating in the Avon river,  next to Arts Centre. Enjoy summer!

Boating in the Avon river, next to Arts Centre. Enjoy summer!

Till then, enjoy the New Zealand summer and visit the local town markets that dot the country. Don’t forget to share your comments on market experiences !

A Maori 'Wharenui' - communal meeting house

A Maori ‘Wharenui’ – communal meeting -house

  See World Palate Recipes – New Zealand: Pumpkin Soup.

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2015) Please see copyright disclaimer.

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  1. Pingback: New Zealand – Art’s Centre Farmer’s Market | Walk to Market

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