Poi shop swings into life in Patea's centre

By Lin Ferguson

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ON THE BALL: Ivy Phillips with her new shop Taku Poi E in Patea. PHOTO/LIN FERGUSON
ON THE BALL: Ivy Phillips with her new shop Taku Poi E in Patea. PHOTO/LIN FERGUSON

Patea has a poi shop to match the song that made it world famous in New Zealand in 1984.

It is a wide, open, bright shop in Patea's main street, divided into two departments.

Owner and local kohanga reo teacher Ivy Phillips said her new shop, Taku Poi E, was meant to be.

"With a poi department and an eating department," she laughed

A few weeks ago she decided it was time to have a Maori shop in Patea, especially as it is nationally renowned for its Maori culture. In the 1984 the town's famous son, the late singer Dalvanius Prime, had a hit with Poi E, sung by the Patea Maori Club. "Well, here in Patea we have shops owned by Indians, Chinese, pakeha... so I thought it was time we had a Maori shop as well."

When she can't be at the Egmont St shop because she's working at the kohanga reo at Kakaramea, 10 minutes away, she rosters on family members.

Poi in a variety of colours and designs are draped throughout the shop and all made by Ivy.

"I made them when I was on holiday in Melbourne at my son's."

Shadow boxes hanging on the walls feature kete, feathers, and poi in delicate colours, all carefully crafted by Ivy as well.

Shells, baby blanket gift packs with little home-knitted booties on top, and large, woven kete with poi tucked inside are arranged around the shop and a decorative tree with silver-painted branches is dangling with poi on a trolley. It has pride of place against the back wall of glowing purple and mauve panels with silver stars depicting Matariki.

The other "department", is a mini cafe.

Even though her shop and cafe is next door to an established large cafe, Ivy insists her new mini-cafe is no competition at all.

"We serve a small range of home-baked food. Not a lot, just a bite or two. We don't encourage people to sit down."

On offer were cream-filled butterfly cakes, shortbread, fudge slice, ham and egg white bread sandwiches and donuts dripping with chocolate icing.

And for those who are really hungry, there is an oven filled with pies imported from Hawera, Ivy said.

Free apples were also on offer, as well as iced water, tea and coffee.

Delicate poi centrepieces adorn the tables.

Because the shop has only been open a week, it's early days yet to see how trade goes, she said. "I don't really think we're a shop for the local people. We're more about people driving through, especially those from overseas. We want them to take home a special little piece of New Zealand."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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