Slicing her knife into a creamy substance just created by Adriann Ims and Whetu Fala, two budding cheese-makers, Alexis Murti reveals the beginnings of a block of halloumi.

The looks of accomplishment and sounds of delight from the group as the half-made halloumi is cut into, with laughter as they begin the next step — digging their hands into the cheese — is everything Sue Harris and Lynette Ellison hoped for when dreaming of what the Kāpiti Summer School could offer.

The first Kāpiti Summer School began last week, with 300 registrations for 30 classes ranging from food to professional development, lifestyle and entertainment.

Popular classes included beekeeping and blacksmithing, which were so well attended extra classes were put on and a waitlist created.


The school's co-founder Sue Harris hopes it will be an annual event.

"The idea was to establish a summer school in Kāpiti like the Methven Summer School, where I used to live and was involved in."

"We wanted to do something worthwhile in our retirement this year," Lynette said.

Along with setting up the school, Sue and Lynette are co-founders of the Kāpiti Summer School Charitable Trust, which intends to offer reduced fees in future years.

While most registrations have come from Kāpiti, the school has also drawn people from further afield — Porirua, Wellington and Levin as well as Christchurch and other areas.

However, wanting to help local businesses, Sue and Lynette have sourced all local tutors such as Alexis Murti who lives in rural Ōtaki with her family.

"Our family made the move to rural Ōtaki to live as sustainably as we could," Alexis said.

"It's a real gift to be able to grow, produce and make the most of our own food.


"I love that generally one person will walk away from each class with a life-long hobby.

"Part of what we're about is bringing people into Kāpiti and also providing the place for people to connect with others and make friends," Lynette said.

With the laughter and chatter at the cheese-making class, the summer school is providing that, along with many opportunities for people to experience something new.

The school has been made possible thanks to grants from the Nīkau Foundation and Kāpiti Coast District Council.