Five years of Gather & Hunt

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This thing we called Gather & Hunt turns five today, and I know for most it’s simply a place you visit when it feels relevant, but for me it’s been a life-defining, all-consuming project. Here’s the story of that first day, peppered with videos from some of my favourite moments.

We made two videos to launch this new section of the now-defunct original site. Featuring Allan, me, Caro, Dom and Abi. Adorable.

I remember September 2 five years ago vividly. I woke up at 5am and drove like a mad thing around the dark city streets trying to capture last minute exterior shots of cafes, restaurants and shops because I was too shy to go in (and most of them were closed). It was fruitless, like cramming before an exam, but I had to be doing something.

Here is the so-cute-I-cringe first Stomping Grounds video we made about Eden Terrace in 2013.

The G&H Co-founders: Linda (my mum), Allan, and I had lunch at Shed Five (now Odettes). Allan and I left for his office at around 2pm and pushed the website live. I felt a rush of adrenalin when it happened – my blood was pumping as fiercely as it did that time I jumped off The Sky Tower. There were no real-time analytics then, so in my mind thousands of people were looking at the little website we’d spent a year building. I think on our first day we had around 200 visitors. It was something of an anti-climax.

This is our first Tasting Club at Kokako, and the video still makes me weepy. All the feelings.

That night we had a party at 1885. Lots of friends and strangers came. There was a posse of ladies from my knitting club and friends from high school and various past part-time jobs. My brother came over from Melbourne for it. He introduced Al and I to the hand grenade that night, which is not a drink I recommend. I made a speech. I had butterflies in my stomach all day, all week – at least until the end of the year. Everything was both terrifying and amazing. It still is.

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Friends at our launch: I’m second from the right, a flushed little 26-year-old with so much to learn

Our first story, our intro, is below. I thought I’d publish it here because it’s still true. Gather & Hunt has evolved into a still-small but somehow sprawling media company, but at heart, for me, it’s always been a philosophy of sorts – a way of being.

This is the first ArtDego, still my favourite thing we do. ArtDego2016 is on October 16th, fyi, keep an eye out for tickets in early October.

Dear gatherer & hunter,

Welcome! For more than a year now, we have been dreaming of a website that would reveal how Auckland city can inspire, sustain and entertain us, and so we created this online space in the hope that it will help us (and you) to get to know Auckland better. 

After all, the place we live plays a pretty key role in our lives – it’s more than a simple setting, it’s a living, breathing mass of energy (and architecture) – and yet we’re all guilty of taking this city for granted, of trudging to and from work without looking up, or listening, or actually connecting with our environment at all. 

At gather & hunt, we don’t really believe in enemies, but if we did, they’d be called Negativity, Routine, Boredom and Comparison. We’re pacifists though, so rather than fighting them, we’ve simply waved goodbye and headed off in a new direction. We’ve decided to become mindful, liberated city dwellers. 

We are the people who look up when we’re walking (and occasionally stumble and then giggle to ourselves), we are the ones who smile at buskers and stretch our arms out toward the sun like little trees, and dance and eat and drink and talk late into the night. Because that’s what (city) life is all about, right? 

Now that gather & hunt has launched, you can join us on our journey into the heart of urban life. G&H is not an exclusive club, it’s the platform for a group of people who have decided to properly engage with the traffic, noise and amazing coffee that goes hand in hand with living in Auckland. We hope you’ll use this website to do the same. 

It should be noted that gather & hunt is a project that will never be finished. As long as there are keen gatherers & hunters, this online space will continue to change and evolve. Call it gather & hunt part one, if you like.  

The Ballet Banquet. The sheer beauty of this night made one lady cry. You can now visit the remarkable collaboration of Laura and Ed Verner six days a week at Pasture. See Claire Cowan and the Blackbird Ensemble as part of the Cabaret Festival later this month.

I don’t know what iteration of Gather & Hunt we’re at now, I’ve lost count, and it’s far from over. It has given me the opportunity to do (and eat) amazing things, to meet the most wonderful human beings, to learn so much about myself and this struggling, flourishing industry. Reaching the five year mark is a significant milestone for any business, but I don’t feel particularly proud today, I just feel grateful.

The most beautiful of all our Tasting Clubs, in September 2015 at Cocoro.

That gratitude is directed toward the following people, whose belief in me has been unwavering across the years even when I thought it was completely unfounded, even when I didn’t deserve it. These are the heroes of g&h. Thank you thank you thank you.

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Linda Carlin (right) // the most patient and generous and helpful of partners in crime. Also a top mum.
Morven McAuley (left) // the friend and collaborator, who I was lucky enough to meet because I once wrote about a bottle of beautiful water.
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Mike Murphy // the most inspiring of mentors, although he’d probably be uncomfortable with that word. The man behind Kokako Coffee who gave me my first real story, my first real event, and five years worth of valuable advice and support.
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Rebecca Smidt // the pal who has worked herself into the ground co-producing ArtDego with me for five years straight with little to no reward, because she believes it’s as important as I do.
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Andrew Johnston // the beautiful human who sees the many downs that go with the ups and keeps me sane throughout, who shares the perks but always has to create, carry and clean-up as well, and never complains about it. Also, he built this amazing website in his spare time. What a guy.
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Benj Brooking // the visionary friend who told me we should be making video the very first time I met him, and then went ahead and did that for me and with me for five years and counting.
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Alice Harbourne // the ex-flatmate who travelled to the other side of the world to work for me because it was an adventure, and now makes me so proud with her amazing achievements in an industry we both fell into by accident.
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Kaan Hiini // the multi-talented dependable friend who’s always there and always volunteers to help – to photograph or film or design or just look beautiful.
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Amane Cardenas // the remarkable designer who made me a Christmas map and a magazine and loves and hates both as much as I do but keeps doing them anyway.
Kimberley Davis // the woman who didn’t realise that taking a spare desk in my office meant being absorbed by the gather & hunt creation machine.

There are so many more people to thank, of course, I’ll stop soon.
To my family of course, the shiniest of all gems: Mum, Dad, Stacey, Kyle, Simon, Melinda, Jada, Ashlin, Lexi.
To my friends, who pitch in, say encouraging things, turn up, offer advice, listen. I’m so lucky to have you all!
To the hospo community of Auckland – everyone who’s ever been kind and accommodating, who’s said yes to a Tasting Club, who’s let me into their space and trusted me.
To the people who read this website, come to our events, buy our fledgling magazine. You rule.