Welcome to The Garden Party blog! This space is a new addition to our website, and we’re going to use it to share some of the things we can’t fit elsewhere – stories behind the products in our shop and the people that make them, recommendations and fun ideas for how to use the things you buy at The Garden Party, and what’s going on in our area.


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Feed the Birds!

During the winter months all birds, particularly wild birds, need a diet high in fat as they need a lot of energy to fly and keep warm.
Bread on the lawn is good but seeds, nuts and fat are far better.
Fats are concentrated forms of energy and, per unit weight, provide more than twice the calories of protein or carbohydrates of equivalent weight.  This is very important to birds because of their accelerated metabolisms.  (Flying is a very energetic activity) Energy derived from fat helps birds sustain energy levels longer between meals and over the cold winter nights.

Our wild bird food is grown in North Otago by TopFlite, a company who has been growing food for birds since the 1970’s. Their products can be used to encourage wild birds into your garden.  It will take time for wild birds such as Fantails, Wax Eyes, Tuis, and Kererus to feel at home in a domestic garden but with patience you can encourage many different species into your garden.  Make sure you put the food up high, away from hungry cats.  And water is another a good thing to provide for the birds.

When the wild birds eventually find the food you will see a steady stream of birds flying into your garden for food and water, shelter and if you’re lucky, they may even nest.

Bird feeders are a fun way of encouraging birds into your garden.  They come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  We stock a good range of wooden and recycled plastic bird feeders.  Hang them high, away from cats and other predators.  And remember to wash them regularly to avoid the spread of disease and try to keep the food dry. Don't allow it to go mouldy, as rotten food has the potential to be harmful to wild birds.

If you follw these simple steps you;ll find feeding birds is a lovely thing to do.  Birds in the garden are fun to watch and lively company.  And an important part of our eco-system.

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Tea Towels as Art

We have always sold tea towels.  Sometimes dozens a day (especially if we hang them in our window) And with good reason - we stock really bright, beautiful tea towels.  They are all designed in New Zealand by local artists, designers and graphic experts.  From our well known artsists like FLOX to industrial designers.  After all the unprinted tea towel is like a blank canvas. And some are so stunning they are more like textile art than something you'd use to dry the dishes. But the beautiful of them is that you can!

Plus they are light, easy to travel with, pack and send and they make a practical gift as most households use tea towels in the kitchen.

But lately we've had some customers tell us they are going to frame the tea towels that they have purchased from us.

So we've asked them to send images.  I think you'll agree that they look fantastic.  Bold bright and very economical.  (Most of our tea towels sell between $15 and $20 each)

Next time you need to adorn a plain wall with something colourful and interesting, think of hanging a tea towel.

Thank you Mary-Clare Brownlie for sending us these images of the tea towels she has framed and has hanging in her apartment.

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The Garden Party’s Values

We've been in business for over 25 years and the way we do business has been consistant throughout.  It's been common sense to us but we were asked the other day what our approach to business was and what our values are.

We'd never thought to express them aloud and put them on paper but it was interesting to do so.  We are proud of the way we work and who we work with & we will try to continue to support our community throughout this difficult Covid 19 time.


The Garden Party Culture and Values

We at the Garden Party are a small team of enthusiastic, hard working and honest women that are proud to sell beautiful, practical and fun products that are (more often than not) made and/or designed in New Zealand.

We are big proponents of Made and Designed in New Zealand.  We whole heartedly believe that Kiwis have a huge and disproportionate amount of talent.  We believe that this country produces truly amazing craft and art.
We love telling people about it – the stories, the inventions, the designs and the meanings.

We stock items that we have in our homes, or that we give to our friends and family.  We are proud to have such incredible stock made by talented and kind people that love what they do.

We strive to have integrity in all our dealings – with customers, suppliers, our staff, our accountant & landlord and couriers.  We treat all with respect and gratitude as they all help us in our business.

We are honest and ethical in our approach.  We try to support and stock things made in New Zealand as we believe not only do we have wonderful designers and crafters but we also believe that buying local is better for the planet.  Less shipping and waste.  Where we cannot have NZ made, we try to stock ethically made products. 
We try to be socially and environmentally responsible.
We strive to minimize our negative impact on the environment
We believe the world is a special place filled with wonderful people and we try hard to keep it like that – in our own small ways

We love the idea of supporting small communities, our own and round the world.  We support local schools, kindergartens and playcentres with fundraising initiatives.  It isn’t hard.  We have a genuine love of people.
We welcome everyone into the shop and try to speak to all with respect and curiosity.
We believe that everyone has a story to tell, when they want to.

We think that we can run a small but successful business without doing evil.
We believe in doing the right thing.
We enjoy our work, mostly have fun doing it and love being part of our community.

We try to be adventurous, supportive, creative and kind.
And to remember to turn off the stereo at the end of the day!

The photo above is of our lovely Rosie who comes and helps us every Christmas.  She wrapped lots of gifts that we donated to the Auckland City Mission.

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Meet the Bee Rescuers - Jess and Luke

Jess and Luke are a local, dynamic duo hellbent on saving our bees.  They rescue bee swarms before the exterminator is called in and re-home them in hives around the city. 

Urban areas are the new safe place for bees to live.  The nasty agricultural pesticides used on commercial farms are no good for bees. The city/urban environment provides a sweet flower-filled haven ... all thanks to you avid gardeners in the hood.

Jess and Luke have been urban beekeepers for five years. They have travelled the world learning about bees from beekeepers all over the world and have visited as many countries as they could, learning all about the prevention of disease, crop pollination and honey extraction.

Their aim is to increase New Zealand’s bee population by supplying healthy, happy hives to urban areas and to educate our future generation on the importance of keeping our little workers around. 80% of their proceeds go back into helping to rescue more bees by building them warm hives and treating them for diseases.

Buy some of their honey today - you'll helping rescue bees, helping Jess and Luke rescue more bees and also get to have some delicious and heath giving honey!  A win-win-win, we think.

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Are you ready for Plastic Free July?

Are you ready for Plastic Free July?

Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people to be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.
Will you join the millions of people reducing their plastic waste?

Here are some products that can help you reduce your plastic footprint as they are reusable
- Honeywrap – each wrap used for a year prevents 70 meters of cling wrap going into the ocean
- Cuppa Coffee Cups – reuse your coffee cup everyday and stop filling up landfills with non-decomposable coffee cups.
- Spruce Cloths – these great cloths are handy round the house and after months of use can be put onto the compost where they’ll decompose
- Bamboo melamine plates – prettier than plastic and they wont bend or get soggy like paper plates. And they’ll decompose much faster than a plastic one
- Metal straws – reusable so non polluting and better for your wallet and earth in the long run
- Silicon lids – reusable lids to protect food when heating, traveling or storing.  They can be used in the microwave (they stop food splatter) or as a pot lid on the stove or in the oven and they wash up really well in the dishwasher.
- Reusable shopping bags – these are strong and durable and look way better than a plastic supermarket bag.

You can take the plastic free challenge for a day, a week, a month or even as the start of a permanent change.
Start small, every bit helps our planet, our home.

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Claire Jensen - environmental artist

Artist and designer Claire Jensen uses a combination of new and waste materials to create decorative and functional artisan pieces for the home and garden. Wood, metal and glass are diverted from landfill, cleaned up from the environment and skilfully used to create quality art and design objects for further use and enjoyment.

Here she talks to Resene's magazine Habitat about her work.  "When plastic washes up on the seashore, Claire Jensen doesn’t just see pollution – she envisions what pieces of art she can create from the discarded material. The New Plymouth artist takes trash and turns it into treasure, creating art pieces finished in Resene paints. She tells us more.

Tell us about your current work or ventures.

Primarily I work with waste materials that are collected from and found around Taranaki and Opunake. This includes plastic waste from beaches, industrial and domestic sources along with wood from renovations, new builds and beaches and metal also salvaged from various sources.

Currently I am working in two directions and have dual brands accordingly. I am exploring themes relating to New Zealand and folk art in my 'artisan salvage' pieces made in wood, metal and glass for the garden. These designs are often rustic and homely, though made to endure harsh conditions, and may be found at www.brownbach.co.nz.

Conversely, I am working with plastic waste and producing abstract, contemporary art and design objects under the pseudonym 'wastemedia'. These pieces are intended to present low value materials as high end 'art'.


How do you incorporate Resene products and paint into your work?

Initially I purchased Resene paints to create a community mural for our local beach. The mural was designed and made by local school children and comprised of coastal motifs painted on ply and attached to a fence. The staff at the Resene ColorShop in Hawera were excellent in their knowledge and assistance in getting me kitted up for this project.

The mural required durable materials in order to suit the busy, coastal location and also user-friendly products suitable for children. Two years after the installation the boards still look freshly installed and have endured stormy weather and the hustle and bustle of a busy campground.

I had plenty of paint left over from this project so I started using it in both my artisan  salvage pieces and in my sculpture. Most recently I have used the paint to conceal fixings on my plastic waste sculpture Thin Ice, where I have layered applications to form a thick layers of paint, which effectively blends in with the other plastic.

How has the style of your pieces evolved?

I enjoy experimenting with materials. I am always trialling ways to combine, manipulate and join materials in innovative ways. As I become more skilled and knowledgeable about using tools and materials I am able to express my ideas more effectively.

What has influenced your work?

Waste art is a relatively new direction in art. It’s a reaction to the growing global crisis of human-generated pollution. My ideas about this, consumerism, the future as well as the environment are all being developed and realised in my latest pieces.

Do you have a favourite piece?

Usually my latest piece is my favourite. As I am quite diverse in my media and content, it’s tricky to compare pieces – but if a piece looks professional and is well made I am satisfied."

To see her work go to our website where we sell her beautiful wooden birds.


How wild birds grow forests

We’re taught from an early age that birds need trees to live in. But so too do trees often need birds to survive…

Internationally there are some great examples of birds helping to grow valuable areas of forest. Take for instance the pink-necked green pigeon of South-East Asia, a bird known for its seed dispersing abilities. The PNGP (yes, we’re calling it that) is thought to be responsible for helping to return the ficus species back to Krakatoa after the infamous volcano destroyed vegetation on the original island.

Closer to home and the kererū is renowned for spreading seeds from over 70 native plant species far and wide. The big and bold bird is the only native large enough to eat some of the larger fruit from important forest trees like miro, tawa and karaka.

Having eaten their share of fruit and seed they then fly often long distances before expelling the seeds elsewhere, all within a perfectly natural fertilised package. This beautiful bird is also responsible for increasing the coverage of rimu, kahikatea and nikau too. Other native species also help spread valuable seed around New Zealand.

What can you do to help out? To start with, you can plant native trees of your own to attract feeding native birds. When food is scare during the autumn and winter months you can also supplement their diet with a range of wild bird feed options.

There are so many reasons to love our ‘locals’. Along with their unique shapes, colours and birdsong the role they play in the wider ecosystem is hugely important. Helping New Zealand’s native birds survive is therefore something all of the country should be behind.

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What to do in your garden this May - get ready for colder weather

Making the most of May in the Garden

There is so much to enjoy about late autumn, the flavours of the season, the last of the rich warm hues in the cutting garden and of course mother nature's changing palette all around us. In this blog we look at a few things to
tackle during May

Rake & Mulch  It's time to rake up the leaves as they fall, although it's not our favourite task, once collected & left to break down they make amazing mulch, soil conditioner & can be added to compost to complete the cycle.

Autumn Harvest With the last of the summer crops coming to an end it's time to lift & store root crops, pumpkins can be brought in also. What to do with your last tomatoes? ours are chopped into chutney & made into winter soups & sauces for the freezer.

Final Planting & Sowing  May is really the last chance to plant bulbs if you want to enjoy them in Spring. Now is the ideal time to plant Tulips as they don’t like to sit for a long period in wet soil. It's also not to late to plant other spring bulbs while the soil is still warm, this will also extend your spring flowering displays.

 Getting ready for Winter

• Finish autumn weeding, dig compost/fertilize & mulch
• Start to feed the birds as natural food sources begin to disappear
• If you have a bird bath keep an eye on the water level & keep it clean
• If you soil is wet lift dahlia & gladioli corms as they die down
• Sow green manures on any empty vegetable beds
• Peg down strawberry runners, only use the first one from the main plant
• Garlic can be started now ready to go in next month
• Shrubs can be pruned to promote new growth come spring
• If temperatures remain warm or dry keep watering your pots
• Lawns can be aerated and spiked, fill the wholes with sharp sand to improve drainage

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Make Give Live Hats - buy one, give one

Make Give Live is a social enterprise that connects and nurtures the wellbeing of people in their communities while crafting beautiful knitwear for you and people in need.

Make Give Live was started in 2016 fashion designer turned communications agency co-founder, Claire Conza, with a session up in the Whangaparaoa library with a few passionate knitters who were curious about this crazy idea she'd created an event for on the local Facebook group. As word got around more makers joined and they seemed to really enjoy the sessions, connection and making. As people followed the story online they were eager to support and get their hands on gorgeous beanies and be part of the movement too.

Co-founder Becky Smith discovered Make Give Live at a market and through hearing Claire's story fell in love with the concept. She loved the idea of using knitting groups, that she had been longing to create since moving to NZ after a somewhat isolating expat life, as a catalyst for connection and kindness in our communities. She soon had a group up and going in her local cafe in Birkenhead, and has since been instrumental in the growth of Make Give Live to having 10 groups and over 100 makers.

These groups foster a feeling of pride and community.  It is a proven fact that knitting has a multitude of therapeutic benefits, including reducing stress, improving self confidence and helping provide meaningful connections and purpose, especially when you are part of a community.  So far there are established knitting groups in Auckland, Taupo and Christchurch.

Make Give Live provides a warm safe place for the knitters and the needles, patterns and wool.  Knitters aren't paid for their work but enjoy the benefits of knitting in a small group. 

Then the hats are then distributed to retailers to sell. (We do not make a full mark up on them as we belive this is such a worthy social enterprise and one worth supporting) 

And for every hat sold Make Give Live then donate another beautifully hand knitted hat to people in need.

Such a great idea!

The Make Give Live hats come in one unisex size and the classic shapes suit both men and women. 

They come in two styles both classic beanies that can be worn loose and slouchy or folded over. There's the Madison beanie which is a classic knitted beanie with ribbed edge or the Alex which is a more textured knit.

They are hand knitted out of 100% New Zealand wool and will keep you head (and heart) warm for many years.  And someone elses head will be toasty warm because you've purchased one too!

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a new factory - where the delicious OCHO chocolate is created

NOV 15, 2018
We didn’t save the factory, but we did make a brand new one. This week marks one year since OCHO raised $2 million thanks to thousands of keen chocolate lovers and supporters. The machines are in and we can’t believe how far we have come in only 12 months. A new production line has been shipped from Italy, a new chocolate factory designed and built in a matter of months, and a new era of Dunedin chocolate has begun.

Craft chocolate is a new industry and many of our investors haven’t tried it before. Think about the first time you tried whiskey and that’s what it is like; a punch of flavour that your taste buds adjust to overtime. Before you know it, you can tell the difference between a single and double malt of Scotch or Irish origin. So how did we convince over 3,000 people to invest in something they knew very little about? Read more on chocolate flavour and origin here.

We exceeded our equity crowdfunding target in less than two days. At the time it was the fastest and most successful PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign in New Zealand. We did it thanks to an incredible groundswell of support to keep chocolate making here in Dunedin and, of course, a large dose of enthusiasm from chocolate lovers who liked the idea of owning a share of a chocolate factory.

OCHO craft bean-to-bar chocolate in a sack of beans from the Pacific.

The Dunedin connection has been key. People across the country and all around the world have a special connection to our great little city. Whether they were a Scarfie and studied at the University of Otago or Otago Polytechnic, or an admirer of our Gothic Revival architecture and sculpture, Dunedin strikes a chord with them all. Chances are they also visited Cadbury World, or even remember the days of Hudson’s biscuit factory. When news spread that chocolate making was to be lost in Dunedin city, it was a real shock for many of us.

The first idea mooted was to buy back the Cadbury factory and run it as a community-backed initiative and this gained significant support in principle from around the country. Ultimately that idea wasn’t a goer, but the seeds were sown for a collaboration between the group that wanted to save regional manufacturing and a small Dunedin craft chocolate maker.


ocho-early-daysOtago Chocolate Company's first kitchen on Glasgow Street. 

OCHO, aka the Otago Chocolate Company, had been started by Liz Rowe five years earlier. From initial experiments, Liz had grown OCHO into a boutique business making bean-to-bar, craft chocolate. While a small business in the general scheme of things, OCHO had some valuable assets, including an excellent brand, an established reputation for making premium chocolate, reliable sources of beans from the Pacific, and a small but dedicated staff. By joining forces, OCHO and Own the Factory could ensure chocolate making was going to stay in Dunedin no matter what.

Before any money was raised the OCHO and the Own the Factory teams sat around a table and wrote on post-it notes what work means to us. It was really clear that we wanted to build a better kind of business model, one that isn’t lethal to the environment, or harmful to our community, including OCHO employees.

These wants and needs further reinforced OCHO’s core values that Liz always held true from day one. This includes simple things like paying everyone at least the Living Wage and paying farmers fair prices, or working on a plan to measure our carbon footprint. Read more on our pillars for success here.

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Many people still think that making chocolate is a mysterious and complicated process that can only be done in big factories with industrial-scale equipment. But OCHO is part of a new model of craft chocolate that is gaining traction around the globe, which will prove the skeptics wrong.

In our new factory, we want to change attitudes towards chocolate and help people to understand what craft chocolate is all about by showing people how we make chocolate and what we make it with. That will help fight another of the myths about chocolate - that it’s bad for you and should only be eaten occasionally as a treat food. That’s a perception we are determined to change.

Early next year we will be opening our factory doors so we can show people just exactly what we do and how we do it. Visitors will walk away knowing lots more about chocolate making, how to taste the difference in various chocolate styles, and perhaps even a little more curious about the origins of other kinds of food they buy.

For us, we love connecting with chocolate lovers and anyone curious about the food they eat. We are so proud that in just 12 months, thanks to the support we’ve had from our investors, the OCHO team, our community, and a bunch of hard-working local contractors, we have built the platform to make our vision a reality.


OCHO Chocolate maker, Liz Rowe explains why craft chocolate is sooooooo much better

The Difference between Craft Chocolate and a Big Brand Chocolate Bar

Chocolate doesn’t have to be a complicated product and the way it’s made doesn’t have to be a secret. One of OCHO’s goals is to eliminate the mystery around chocolate by sharing what we know, from what goes into our bars to how we make them. 

Not so many years ago the ratio of cocoa to sugar in chocolate was a trade secret, cacao bean buying was done by men in suits hammering out the lowest price deals, and all chocolate was made in large, industrial-style factories. Things began to shake out in the mid 1990’s with the launch of Scharffen Berger, the first modern American bean-to-bar chocolate company. These guys figured out how to make small batch chocolate, and put cacao percentage and bean origin on their labels. The craft bean-to-bar chocolate movement was born.

The early makers of craft bean-to-bar chocolate had a lot to learn, after all, the big chocolate brands had been operating behind closed doors with the utmost secrecy. Makers had to teach themselves how to identify good beans, remove the husk and refine the chocolate without large scale equipment. Websites like John Nancie's Chocolate Alchemy were instrumental in sharing knowledge with people across the globe, and slowly more and more craft bean-to-bar makers started up. These days there is a wealth of information along with equipment and bean brokers so that anyone can get set up to make chocolate at home.

Real chocolate

So, what is the big deal about craft chocolate? Next time you’re heading down the chocolate aisle at the supermarket, check out what’s in the bars. Even a plain dark chocolate bar can have a long list of ingredients and different names can be used for the same thing. For example, cocoa mass is ground up cocoa nibs whereas cocoa powder and cocoa solids are both names for what’s left behind once cocoa butter is taken out of the beans. There will also be sugar, maybe cocoa butter, and likely some kind of flavouring. Most bars include an emulsifier like soy lecithin, and you might strike milk solids sometimes in dark chocolate. Remember that ingredient lists have to start with the biggest item first, so if the list starts with sugar then it means there’s more sugar than cocoa beans in the bar.

It does taste different

Every time you buy something from a big chocolate brand, you know exactly how it is going to taste. Vanilla is often added because it helps soften the chocolate and gives that familiar flavour many of us associate with chocolate from our childhood. An emulsifier helps achieve a smooth consistency and mouth feel, but is often soy based so causes problems for those intolerant to soy. Cocoa butter can be one of the trickiest ingredients to pin down. It’s in the beans originally, but is sometimes taken out and then added back in different quantities to help give the silky mouthfeel people associate with chocolate, especially quality European-made chocolate.

The cacao percentage of a bar can include added cocoa butter, but makers don’t have to put the exact split between cocoa nibs and cocoa butter. Using this ingredient can be a way of making a bar appear to have a higher ratio of cacao to sugar, but still a softer flavour. Really cheap chocolate, called compound chocolate, replaces cocoa butter with a cheaper fat like palm oil. This is usually used to make chocolate buttons or drops for baking.

Craft chocolate makers on the other hand generally take a less-is-more approach to ingredients and celebrate the difference in flavour between bars. Many only use two ingredients in dark chocolate bars - cacao nibs and sugar. In our 70% Cacao Solomons bar, 70 grams out of every 100 grams is cocoa nibs (cocoa beans minus the husk) and 30 grams is sugar. There is nothing else in the bar. The percentage of cacao is usually displayed prominently on the front of the packet, though this is not always the best indicator of how strong a bar will be because different beans have different flavour profiles.

There’s no doubt that craft bean-to-bar chocolate is setting new standards for the chocolate industry. We are starting to see the big chocolate brands following in the craft makers’ footsteps by displaying the cacao ratio on the front of a packet and naming bars after the origin of the cocoa.

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Gwyneth Hulse’s No Waste Collection

Gwyneth Hulse and her husband are the talent behind Gwyneth Hulse Design in Kerikeri.  Together they create wonderful wooden jewellery and homeware.  Each piece respects the native timber from which it is created and loving hand crafted and painted.  No two pieces are ever the same.

Gwyneth and her husband have always worked in an eco-friendly way and respect the environment but her new collection "Waste Not' is a spectuacular example of how to use every bit of a precious resource like wood.

These products have been created from the surplus remnants of our other pieces in order to maximise the potential of our beautiful trees.  So that nearly every piece of wood is used.  Gwyneth has designed some stunning new pieces made from the off cuts - bits that are normally thrown away are now adorning peoples homes and bodies.  This is a truly green way to run a business - its clever, resourceful and doesn't waste a thing!

"We hope that Waste Not is an inspiration and an encouragement to others to think about how we use our planet’s resources" says Gwyneth.  "We wish to have a positive impact on others and the planet, by offering beautifully handmade alternatives to mass-produced products which people can value and care for."

It's certainly inspired us - we love the new Gwyneth Husle pieces!


Coltrane Clay and Ponsonby Pomade from Triumph & Disaster

Coltrane Clay, for the disheveled “I-just-rolled-out-of-bed” look.
This product is perfect for those who prefer a soft, matte wave. The white clay and beeswax mix — with a touch of Pracaxi oil and Brazil wax — make for a medium hold which will tame his manly mane whilst maintaining its natural texture.
The masculine fragrance, American Tobacco, adds the perfect finish. “We don’t think smelling like a fruit tube is right for a grown man’s hair” — Triumph & Disaster

Ponsonby Pomade, for the sleek, styled, hair-care conscious gentlemen. This product not only styles, but aids in maintaining his healthy tresses.
The key ingredients, Dragons blood and Harakeke help to repair and strengthen the hair and scalp, while the Argan oil adds moisture promoting strength and softness.
It gives a medium hold with high shine, perfect for a more polished, groomed look. The somewhat medicinal fragrance elicits a musky character, full of spice and charm.
Available in-store and online!

The incredible magnetic bike light

This is a nifty design if we've ever seen one! Watch the video to see how the clever Lucetta bike light clips on and changes functions, easy as can be. This good-looking gadget is the perfect mix of form and function. Find them here.

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Chalkydigits are here

A warm welcome to Chalkydigits, our newest suppliers who are brightening up our winter displays with their bright and beautiful NZ made scarves.

A company with a conscience, these guys have a work ethic we really appreciate: they consider the true cost of cutting prices by getting goods made overseas.

"Our precious natural environment pays a hefty price from the use of polluting fossil fuels in the prolific production of low-quality goods overseas. It creates acres of carbon miles in transport and then there’s the chemical poisoning from non-organic clothing crop pesticides.

There’s the human cost too; jobs, skills and equipment are lost from New Zealand and, most alarming, plenty of employees overseas are working in underpaid, unethical or exploitative conditions and, sadly, many of them aren’t even adults yet.

It’s only when you completely ignore the true cost of fast fashion that these imported garments seem good value."

Well said! You can check out Chalkydigits scarves here

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5 questions with Kate Watts

Kate Watts is the crafty genuis behind our bestselling fingerless gloves. We sat down for a chat about her gorgeous work and the story behind it:


What first sparked the idea for your fingerless gloves?

I was making clothing in a drafty workroom, and really needed some myself! So I made some for me, then I made some for a wee shop I was selling clothing through in Dunedin, and they just took off. I decided to give the gloves a go by themselves, so I learnt to screenprint, which has lead to what you see today! Anna was one of my first 5 stockists, thank you Anna!

Screenprinting allows clothing to become a canvas for artwork – your gloves are a perfect example of this. What’s more of a passion for you, fashion or art – or are they the same thing?

My passion is craft! I have a background in fashion, craft and manufacturing, and I think these things come together perfectly in what I do. I like to be part of the process of making my product, I can't imagine handing over the entire production to a third party. But one day I would love to have the time and opportunity to make both art and fashion again, as they are both very creatively fulfilling, if not as easy to make a living from.

How does being a Kiwi influence your design?

I think being a Kiwi has given me the freedom to do anything I want to do, and to experiment within a few different creative fields until I have found my niche. I also love our history as a starting point for design, I love researching ships and drawing our native plants, and hunting for interesting vintage papers that tie back into our story as New Zealanders.

Tell us about your newest range. How has your style evolved?

I think that this range (my 4th) is more commercial (though not too commercial!)  and more polished. It's only my 4th range, and if you asked me what I'm good at designing screen prints isn't high on the list! But I think that I'm getting better with each range, and each year I have a better idea of what my customers want. But I always try to keep it a bit crafty, and a little quirky, and stay true to myself.


There is a big difference between creating something beautiful, and being able to make a successful business from it – what advice would you give to young creatives out there who want to make a living from their work?

Don't be too specific when trying to decide what to make, and listen to your customers. Try a few different things, keep an open mind, and hopefully an opportunity will present itself! Work hard, but find a way to keep your passion alive. And get involved in your local small business community. If you can surround yourself with cool people with complimentary skills and share your knowledge, it makes it a lot more fun!

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Dark Light


After all the madness of festival season (Pride fest, Fringe Fest and Arts Fest all in one go!) it's nice to sit back and reflect on some of the highlights.


A highlight for us was Dark Light: a street level architechtural projection, providing the technology platform and support for local artists.

This was a temporary event in Ponsonby, a beautiful combination of architecture and projected images. Have a look at the video - it was a huge success and heaps of fun.

The Garden Party  was one of the main sponsors, and we felt very privileged to be involved.  It's events like this that make Auckland a city with personality!

The installation featured local artists Mark Conaco, Miki Pogoni, Rebekah Taylor, Peap Tarr, Hannah Jensen, Petra Leary, Gasp, Enuake Sirikige, and Erin Forsyth.



Peace & Quiet

A pared-back colour scheme complemented with a few carefully selected treasures makes for a restful, inviting sleeping space.

This soothing bedroom setup features our

Copper Wire Fairy Lights $65

Nellie Tier Lip Balm $14

Nellie Tier Face Cleansing Oil $32

Ladies Sunhat $32 (available instore)

Ribbed Vase $18 (available instore)

Karma cola

Sweet Karma

This unexpectedly glorious summer has given us the perfect opportunity to test out Karma Cola, a fairtrade cola from the Kiwis behind All Good Bananas. We jump at the chance to support independent NZ companies - especially when it tastes this good!

This is a company that focuses on using organic and Fairtrade ingredients - so, in their words, 'it's good for the growers, good for the land and it’s as good for you as a fizzy drink can be because it’s organic.'

Not everyone is our shop is usually a fizzy drinks fan, but overall we agreed that Karma Cola was refreshing, sweet but not sickly, and with a deeper, spicier flavour than The-Drink-That-Must-Be-Named. And in this pic by Karma Cola, their old-school classic 'spider' made with Nice Blocks icecream (another cool NZ startup) looks irresistible!

Karma Cola also have a facebook page where you can see their stockists and keep up to date.

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Sculpture Onshore

Tomorrow is the last day of NZ Sculpture Onshore. We're hoping the nasty weather will clear up this afternoon because this is an event not to be missed. Over 100 sculptures by well known sculptors and younger artists are displayed all over Fort Takapuna historic reserve. It only happens once every 2 years so it's worth a visit if you can squeeze it in! The exhibiton is set up to support Women's Refuge, so it's a great cause as well. 


Above is a photo from www.nzsculptureonshore.co.nz, where you can find out more information about tickets and how to get there. 


Photo Credit: Howard Williams for NZ Sculpture Onshore

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Our shop stocks dozens of beautiful teatowels made by New Zealand artists and designers. Lots of our customers think the teatowels are far too pretty for dishwashing duty, and we love hearing stories of the alternatives they’ve come up with.

We had one customer who bought a series of classic kiwi icon teatowel designs like Mr Four Square, which she stretched over frames to decorate the walls when she refurbished her family’s butchery. Once a customer came into the shop wearing an amazing wraparound patchwork skirt she’d made from our teatowels! 

Here’s a photo a customer sent us, of a pair of cushions she made with some Garden Party teatowels she was given. We think they look gorgeous!

Feeling inspired to get crafty? Here’s a (relatively) simple tutorial we found on Youtube for making a cushion. This method would work with two teatowels, or perhaps you could use a patterned teatowel for the front and a plan piece of fabric for the back. Happy crafting.

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Art in The Dark

For two nights each year, Western Park – just up the road from The Garden Party – is transformed into a nighttime wonderland of light and colour. Art in The Dark is an annual exhibition in the park, being held this year on November 9 and 10. After dark, the Western Park lights up with amazing artwork that, in the curators’ words, ‘not only fits the specific contours of the great, urban outdoors but illuminates the dark using clean, eco-friendly energy and materials wherever possible’. The result is beautiful and heaps of fun, and we especially love the neighbourly community feeling the show brings with it. The exhibition is timed perfectly just when the weather is getting warmer and everybody is excited about finally getting outside!

Check out their website artinthedark.co.nz for more details and some gorgeous photographs of past years’ works. See you there!

Pho credit: Art in the Dark

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Designers Talk - Creative Ink

As a regular feature we’re going to introduce you to some of the designers and artisans who sell their goods through The Garden Party. This week, we talk to Deon Hendrikz, founder of Kingsland-based design studio Creative Ink. We stock Creative Ink and we love their refreshing, stylish designs and their ethical business attitude. Meet Deon:

What’s the story behind Creative Ink?

I used to work as a graphic designer for a large financial services organisation in Auckland. But, being curious and eager to explore my own creative free spirit, I set up my own graphic design company dhdesignz Limited about 4 years ago. Commercial graphic design is very rewarding but as a creative you never ‘own’ your commercial design work. So I’ve extended my creative palette and expanded my business. In October 2011 I launched Creative Ink, a sub-brand which focusses on designing carefull crafted patterns and prints.These designs are then used to produce a limited run of handmade homeware products such as cushions, tote bags and textiles.


How does being in New Zealand influence your work?

All of Creative Ink’s designs are New Zealand inspired. I came to New Zealand 10 years ago, and the longer I stay here the more connected I feel to this environment, and the kiwi way of life. I think that upon arrival, tourists and visitors to New Zealand are so overwhelmed with its unspoilt beauty, that often they don’t look closely enough to what this beautiful land is all about. It is not until you have lived here for a while that Aotearoa’s true beauty reveals itself in surprising ways. I’ve been inspired by the simple everyday things around me, and I’ve developed a need to reflect this new environment in my design work.

How does Creative Ink address environmental concerns?

Creative Ink prides itself in sourcing all natural textiles that are environmentally friendly and contain no synthetic blends. As a further commitment to keeping our environment safe from harmful chemicals, our inks are 100% water-based, contain organic pigments, and are produced and purchased in New Zealand.

What does the coming year hold for Creative Ink?

 At the moment I’m still very much involved with my first range of designs, which focuses on some of New Zealand’s iconic birds like the much-loved fantail, the curious pukeko, and very vocal tui. I’m also working on my second range, which will focus on New Zealand flora.


Photo credit: Arie Hoeflak.