Restaurant and Cafe spent ten minutes with Bianca Howlett and Kate Rose, the co-founders of the Oyster Festival Matakana as they prepared for their exciting upcoming event.

Bianca Howlett and Kate Rose founded the Oyster Festival Matakana to showcase the beauty of Matakana and its surrounding regions. Rose’s background is in restaurants, having had resounding success running and manning the bars. Her latest venture is The Farmer’s Daughter, an organically managed and purpose-built environmentally-friendly concept. Howlett is the owner of Junction magazine and makes up the other half of the Oyster Festival’s co-founders and operators. Being a Matakana local, Howlett said that it only made sense to join forces with Rose to create the Oyster Festival Matakana.

Bianca Howlett and her husband, Clinton

Passion for the surrounding area has encouraged Howlett and Rose to grow the Oyster Festival Matakana into an all-encompassing event. “When it came to the conception of Oyster Festival Matakana, we wanted to create something to bring people to the area in the off-peak season and showcase the delights of the Mahurangi Harbour,” said Howlett. Over the years, the festival has developed, and Rose noted the increase in local produce being showcased. “It’s been exciting to watch it grow and expand over the past few years with more people, exhibitors, and more exciting local produce being showcased,” said Rose. “This year will be the first year we’ve held it at The Farmer’s Daughter, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. This will now be its forever home, overlooking the Omaha Estuary.”

Kate Rose

Perhaps the festival’s main objective is to connect people with place and produce. Both Howlett and Rose mentioned the importance of growing with the community and getting involved in local events. “We find it’s important to have an ethos that helps to lead us in making our decisions—we base everything off showcasing the best the region has to offer, whether it’s people or produce. This has helped us to grow a really strong sense of community around our businesses.” Not only does the festival help encourage visitors to the region, but the region helps provide a springboard from which to grow from. Howlett and Rose noted that both the community and the festival are equally as dependent on one another in some regards. “The best thing about working within your community is that you’re able to keep everything seasonal, sustainable and locally sourced.”

We asked Rose and Howlett for three tips for running a successful business. They said a solid concept, a good work ethic, and a true passion for what you’re doing would help you get started. “New Zealand is a small place, so even the smallest of businesses or ideas have the opportunity to make their mark—if it’s good.”

This year's festival is on the 6th of October. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit