Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Fruity Hawaiian classic goes down a treat

From left, Joanna Lee-Lo, Joella Lee-Lo and Tia Toiu enjoy their real deal pineapple and icecream. Photo / Natalie Slade
From left, Joanna Lee-Lo, Joella Lee-Lo and Tia Toiu enjoy their real deal pineapple and icecream. Photo / Natalie Slade

Like all classics, success has spawned imitation - but people who want the real deal "Polyfest Pineapples" should let the length of the queues and price guide them.

For nearly 10 years, the Traill family's pineapples - cut in half and scooped out to add scoops of icecream - have fed the hungry hordes at ASB Polyfest.

The world's largest Maori and Pacific Island festival's final day is today, and Traill family member Dutchie Low said their two stalls would likely run dry of pineapples.

"It's getting more popular, and getting bigger and bigger ... our product depends on the weather, the hotter it is, the better for us."

Last year queues were so long at their Hawaiian Pineapple Hut stall in the Cook Island Village that neighbouring vendors complained, and over the years imitator pineapple-sellers have sprung up.

This year they are running a second stall in the Maori Village.

Container loads of pineapples from the Philippines means the Traill's pineapples are not only the original, but the cheapest too.

"Other stalls sell it for $8 or $10. We haven't changed our price, we just sell it for $5, and we've been selling it like that for years now," Mr Low said.

This year they brought in 400 cartons of pineapples - with eight in a carton that makes 3200, and cut in half 6400 satisfied customers - although many return for seconds, thirds, or fourths.

A couple of years ago they sold a record 7200 pineapples - 14,400 halves.

Mr Low said his parents and five siblings were from Fiji but discovered the delicacy when his brother won a scholarship in Hawaii.

"He used to see them doing it on the beach in Hawaii. They just had a small flax hut, and a small chillybin with the icecream in, and they'd ... sell it to the tourists."

People can choose from a range of icecream flavours, with vanilla and passionfruit the most popular.

"You can't be eating pineapple with chocolate icecream, it doesn't make sense."

The family have grown more adept at judging how many pineapples will be needed, but if any are left over they are happily given away.

"One year we went and dumped it down at the Mission in Auckland, so they could make pineapple pie. Or we just tell all the people around here, come and help yourself."

This year's festival has 58 schools taking part, with 195 performance groups entered and close to 9500 students on stage over the festival's four days. Today traditional song, dance, speeches and kapa haka will entertain crowds at the Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Cook Islands and Niue festival.

ASB Polyfest
When: Today 8am to 5pm.
Where: Manukau Sports Bowl, Te Irirangi Drive, Manukau City.
Cost: $5, preschoolers free.
Don't forget: A water bottle, hat and sunscreen.

- NZ Herald

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