"Clean food" specialist Hapi was honoured recently at the Napier City/Art Deco Trust Awards for its signage and building restoration. Hapi's naturopath Fleur du Fresne says the company is all about making others happy. She chats to Mark Story.

What do you do at Hapi?

We are really trying to provide delicious and whole foods to the community. Both Gretta Carney and I are health practitioners and have seen that enhancing people's diet with more organic, whole foods bring about dramatic results in people both physically and mentally. Often changing our diet is a scary prospect and we at Hapi want to be there to help people and arm them with the knowledge they need to take care of themselves and their families.

We are really passionate about the idea that food is medicine and we potentise a lot of our food with rongoa and herbal medicine to increase its healing ability.


Where did the name Hapi come from?

We ummed and ahhed about what to call Hapi for a while and nothing came to us that we both felt really concrete about. Gretta and I met up and she had come up with the name Happiness - we both liked the idea that it would be a reminder that we wanted the business to make others happy - and ourselves of course. We came to Rakai Karaitiana (our designer) with the idea and he liked it but thought Happiness was a bit too long. We mulled it over and finally we came to Hapi - which after a bit of research we discovered that Hapi was a synonym for hangi or a way to feed a community - we couldn't have found anything more perfect.

You were recognised recently after your efforts to enhance both your shop's restoration and signage. Tell us about what you did to get these things up to this standard.

When we took over the lease for 89 Hastings St, we had no idea what lay underneath the fake ceiling and walls. We were amazed when we got the keys and had a nosey up in the ceilings - a beautiful mint ceiling complete with Art Deco mouldings and the most lovely purple and tangerine windows. Obviously the fact that the space had been a late night greasy spoon meant there was a few decades of chip fat to clean off the ceiling! Other than that we really have tried to open up the space and keep it light and airy and fill the space with lots of greenery.

Was it a burden to stick to an Art Deco motif - or does it suit the business and/or your philosophy?

No burden to stick to the motif, why wouldn't we? We are in Napier after all and that is what it's all about and a big portion of everyone's bread and butter. And we love it besides. We are interested in exploring different aspects of Art Deco - the period was as diverse as any period of history so there is room for everyone to creatively express themselves and their values. It's basically just a great excuse for a bit of time travel.

What's the biggest contemporary food myth?

That there is one way of eating that everyone should follow. Everyone is so different, with their own constitutions, some people do well on raw food, while others with a weaker constitution do well on warming and well cooked food. What we believe in is good food, organic (if you can), plenty of water and fresh air and take it easy on the sugar.