• Hōhepa Hawke’s Bay win raft of medals at Cheese Awards

Hōhepa Hawke’s Bay win raft of medals at Cheese Awards

Hōhepa Hawke’s Bay has won a raft of medals, including two golds for its artisan Vintage and Danbo cheeses, at the prestigious NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2022.

The not-for-profit organisation that supports people with intellectual disabilities throughout the country were awarded a total of six gongs. 

The Awards Gala Dinner will be held in Hamilton on May 5. 

General Manager for Hōhepa, Santiago De Marco, says it’s wonderful to share news of the wins – including three silvers for the Aged Danbo, Fenugreek and Herb Quark and a bronze for the Hōhepa Mozzarella – with the hardworking team.

“The people we support are at the centre of everything we do, working and living in the community, farming, bottling, packaging and selling our organic produce,” says Santiago. “They are brilliant at their work and feel the joy of engagement and achievement. It creates a real sense of purpose and self-belief.”

Founded in 1956, Hōhepa also owns and manages New Zealand’s oldest commercially certified biodynamic farm in Hawke’s Bay, spanning 55 acres and grazing 50 cows. There the people Hōhepa supports work on the farm tending to the cows, and within the cheesemaking team, creating delicious award-winning organic cheeses and yoghurt from the highest quality biodynamic milk.

Currently, Hōhepa supports 180 people in Hawke's Bay and employs 600 staff across its sites, which include a school, residential home and market garden and many social enterprises, including a native plant nursery.

De Marco says everyone at Hōhepa has something to offer.

"The people who work so diligently to produce our dairy products, which now include fresh farm milk, are truly passionate about their roles within our community. Jobs are tailored to meet their interests and skill level and it’s wonderful to watch everyone flourish.”

Sustainability is a cornerstone value at Hōhepa. Hōhepa milk is sold in returnable and reusable glass bottles, and the majority of its cheeses now come in compostable packaging. Meanwhile, the milk to make Hōhepa dairy products doesn’t have far to travel – it’s simply pumped through from the milking shed next door.

The people of Hōhepa learn by example, with artisan cheesemakers employed to teach and guide the cheesery team. “Those we support enjoy being involved so closely in every step.”

Santiago says there’s an enormous sense of pride in the weekend’s wins, at every level of the organisation. “It’s a huge moment for us to be recognised among some of the biggest names in New Zealand cheese at these awards, and the excitement we’re feeling today is immense.”

Award-winning Hōhepa cheeses can be found at selected stores throughout the North Island. See www.hohepahawkesbay.com/hohepa-cheese for Hōhepa’s retail partners.