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Coffee stop the new catch-up spot

Ka Pai Cuppa Waka has turned out to be so much more than Shelley Pritchard had ever hoped.

As well as providing a business for herself and her whanau, it has become a news hub for Flaxmere.

“Overseas they call them ‘bumper places’, according to my cousin. Someone comes along with some news, they bump into someone else who’s here for coffee, and so the info is spread. It’s developed its own network.”

Flaxmere born and bred, she and husband Jack spent four years on the Gold Coast in Aussie when their children were little. “Like everyone, we went for the better life, and it was. I loved it; the warmth, the people, the malls; the beaches.”

But then her dad became ill, and that and a number of other things pointed them in the direction of home.

“I wasn’t that happy coming back to the cold.”

But any regrets are long gone and, 15 years on, Shelley loves being at home; and loves her coffee business which can be found most days parked on Henderson Rd, alongside Flaxmere Park.

“We see everybody from all walks of life. You land up becoming a councillor, a nanna and an auntie.

“We get to share in everybody’s lives; the good and the not-so-good.”

So, why a coffee cart for the former retail and orchard worker, who is also a talented singer?

“I had always wanted a café but that was out of financial reach. So, we started Cuppa Waka with a van.

“We wanted something that could grow if the kids needed a business of their own; and it means we can work as long as we want to, or not if something important comes up that we need to tend to.”

That is not so easy with a café, which people expect to be open for specific hours.

“The freedom it gives me is wonderful. We’re here 99 days out of 100, but even just knowing we have choices is worth it.”

Shelley is a Flaxmere Planning Committee member and is passionate about making things better for Flaxmere.

“But I’m also passionate about helping people to see how much we already have; the people, the trees, the beauty that we have here – an awesome wairua. “One thing that is definitely better here than on the Gold Coast, is that here you can roll around on the grass without getting bitten by bull ants. You can’t beat that!”

Another passion of Shelley’s is Te Reo. She was a late starter; stung into learning her mother tongue while at a function at a marae in Turangi. “There were all these little Pakeha kids, completely fluent in Te Reo, and I couldn’t understand a single word.”

So, she came home and enrolled at EIT and four years later had completed her degree.

She says she is not fluent, but practice makes perfect.

Hence the Cuppa Waka menu, proudly listed in Te Reo, put together with the help of Te Reo stalwarts Jeremy Tatere MacLeod and Timote Karetu.

“It’s wonderful; we even have people from overseas coming and giving it ago.”

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If you know someone in Flaxmere (or from Flaxmere) who is doing nice/great/wonderful things, get in touch with us. We are all about celebrating the good news stories that help us value all the great things and people in our suburb. Email:


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