First vintage celebrated at Waitangi

Sunday 21 March 2010, 11:26AM
By Waitangi National Trust


The originators of New Zealand sauvignon blanc, and the great-great-grandson of our first winemaker, were among those who joined author Keith Stewart at Waitangi Treaty Grounds last night to mark the 170th anniversary of winemaking in New Zealand.

Following a tour of what is believed to be the location of the first vineyard, on the lawns of the Treaty House, dignitaries and guests from the worlds of wine and history toasted Stewart’s book Chancers and Visionaries which was launched at the function.

“Waitangi is the birthplace of our nation and also of New Zealand wine and food,” said Keith Stewart. He gave examples of all the fruit and produce introduced by James Busby, who is credited with planting the first wine vineyard in front of the historic Treaty House. Waitangi National Trust Deputy Chair, David Jefferd, the current Busby descendant on the board, thanked Stewart for providing new insights onto his great-great-grandfather’s life and his passion for viticulture. Busby’s reference book on the subject is among his papers on display at the Treaty House.

Guests later gathered at the Treaty Grounds’ new welcome centre to sample food reminiscent of the fare from Busby’s era, including wild pig, Maori potatoes, local oysters, cockles, and a canapé described as “moa”.

“We are proud of the Waitangi estate’s part in this stunning book, and we’re proud of you for producing it,” said Waitangi National Trust CEO Jeanette Richardson. “This is just one more reason for New Zealanders to visit and walk in the place where so much of our history was created and where its relevance and stories remain alive and celebrated today.”