A very fine affair

This is a Fairtrade City Wellington written by A Fine Affair organiser Renee Rushton

Today I had the pleasure of triumphantly depositing $1700 in the Oxfam Coffee Break bank account!

Guests at A fine affair

This money was raised at the formal dinner, A Fine Affair, by the amazing group of timebankers, volunteers, sponsors and guests, who worked, donated and consumed delicious fairtrade food and drink.

The day started bright and early for our star chef, Tania Sawicki Mead, along with a dedicated team of kitchen hands including Nolan Hodgeson, Karly Christ, Kate Wilson and Renee Rushton. A crisp selection of fresh food donated by Commonsense Organics and The Organic Connection was unpacked and the preparation began.

The Newtown Community Centre Theatre was transformed into a beautiful, fine-dining restaurant setting lit with fairy lights and candles and decorated with fair-trade coffee sacks. The tables were adorned with bouquets of woven flax flowers, fig branches and kawa kawa handmade by Kiri Stevens. A team including Vanessa Rushton, Hannah Mackintosh and Kelly Spencer with their attention to detail created a beautiful scene made possible by the fine cutlery, crockery and glassware loaned free of charge by Keri at Te Whare Waka.

Yealands wine

Guests arrived from 7pm and were greeted with fine wine donated by Yealands Estate – A delicious drop to accompany the hors d’oeuvres of crispy polenta with pears and blue cheese, warmed marinated olives (using fairtrade olive oil), fairtrade spiced toasted almonds and Crostini with beetroot dip. Members of the time banking community, Bobby Semau, Anna Costly and Kelly Spencer waited attentively on the guests.

Hors d’oeuvres were followed by an inspiring talk by Matt Morrison from All Good Bananas. Matt informed us of how empowering the fairtrade movement has been for the Ecuadorian banana farmers he works with. For the farmers, having the fairtrade certification means a guaranteed stable price for their produce and the ability to support their families and invest in their communities.

The main meal was served to the accompaniment of a string trio of violinists Tristan Carter and Hannah Fraser with Mostyn Cole on the double base. This local Newtown trio wooed the guests with their sweet sounds adding to the magic of the evening.

The feast was composed of fairtrade rice pilaf with carrots, oranges and pistachios, braised duck with figs (fairtrade spices and olive oil) and a seasonal salad. Vegetarians enjoyed roast baby pumpkins stuffed with puy lentils and labneh.

Dion, of The Amazing Travelling Photobooth, then kicked off a phenomenal charity auction. I’ve never come across a man with such an incredible talent to make a room of people laugh and have a fantastic time while handing over their hard earned cash. His charisma and sense of humour, combined with the generosity of the guests, meant that we raised over $1000 in the auction alone.

A huge thank you goes out to all the sponsors who donated items for the auction in support of fairtrade.


These included:

After Dion blew us all away with an amazing auction, the guests were served a sumptuous rich chocolate cake with drunken raisins (using Fairtrade chocolate and sugar) followed by fair trade tea and coffee. The sumptuous fresh, fairtrade coffee and the Chemex coffee makers were generously supplied by People’s Coffee.

The guests and the volunteers who generously donated their time and talents had fantastic night filled with fun; they learnt more about the business behind Fairtrade and about the different ingredients that are available to buy in New Zealand that they can now serve around their own dinner tables.


You can check out more photos from the night on our facebook page.