Fighting to protect our whey of life: Eketahuna celebrates cheese solidarity

Curd nerd Calum Hodgson wants you to come to a small North Island town to stand in defence of the small-scale farmhouse cheese tradition. 

The Great Eketahuna Cheese Festival is a cheese community keen to connect with others in an act of #CheeseSolidarity. This is a small cheese fest in a small part of provincial New Zealand that had made a big impact on the state of veritable farmhouse New Zealand cheese. Folks from all over are again making the same pilgrimage to Eketahuna to celebrate all of our combined cheese community efforts.

We embrace the old wheys of cheese. Traditional, farmhouse cheese is a simple, nutritious peasant food, a deeply embedded expression of our finest traditions. It is both an art and a whey of life. It is a culture, a heritage and a cherished talisman, a taonga for our future.

And it is under threat of extinction.

Under threat due to unaffordable regulatory measures designed to ensure food safety in the industrial dairy. New Zealand dairy regulations are geared to huge, complex factories of export-orientated companies and they make very little provision for tiny cheesemaking industries.

These outsize regulations ostensibly geared for food safety are crippling our small-scale cheese makers. Our cheese community has been trying for years to get these costs down to a reasonable level.

We dream of a future where craft cheeses not only feed the cheesemaker’s family, but can be produced in sufficient quantities to be enjoyed by the many at cheesemonger shops and markets all over the country. We deplore attempts by the NZ regulatory authorities to impose unattainable standards of production.

We call on all food-loving Kiwis to respond now to the defence of the small-scale cheese tradition. To join in #CheeseSolidarity, a community pulling together not against, collectively adapting.

#CheeseSolidarity is a consciousness not of A and, separately, of B and, separately, of C; #CheeseSolidarity is A-and-B-and-C together, as the contents of a single conscious state.

Like cheese, #CheeseSolidarity is a living thing. There is a cheese unity in the community. There’s no ‘I’ in ‘Cheese’. Nobody puts #CheeseSolidarity in a corner. Join us.

The producers coming to Eketahuna for the fest are: Kaikoura Cheese, Whangapiro Buffalo Co, Sentry Hill Organics, Cartwheel Creamery, Mt Eliza Cheese, ViaVio Cheese, Nieuwenhuis Farmstead Cheese, Bellefield Butter Co, Little Farm Goat Dairy, Kingsmeade Cheese, Faisons du Fromage, Cranky Goat, The Deer Milker and Blackwood Cheese.

There will also be raclette and a cheese chase, where teams of two compete to get a cheese through various obstacles. The Great Eketahuna Cheese Festival is happening on Sunday May 26 and Monday May 27 at the Eketahuna Community Centre. Entry is a $5 donation.

Calum Hodgson, aka the Curd Nerd, is a “New Zealand farmstead cheese evangelist” and the cheesemonger at Auckland food store Sabato.


The Spinoff’s food content is brought to you by Freedom Farms. They believe talking about food is nearly as much fun as eating it, and they’re excited to facilitate some good conversations around food provenance in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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