The Punakaiki Crafts & Café Nikau, located directly opposite the entrance pathway to the Pancake Rocks & Blowhole at Dolomite Point, Punakaiki, is undertaking some major improvements thanks to the motivation and direction of our newly appointed store manager, Joel Smith. Locals & tourists alike are showing their support for the changes through their increased foot traffic and store sales.
Our Punakaiki store, the New Zealand Mānuka Direct branch to our business, was originally started by New Zealand Mānuka Group Executive Director, Phil Caskey, and his wife Sharan to educate the growing number of international visitors coming to Punakaiki with the story of mānuka, New Zealand’s original super plant. Earlier this year we were seeking a new manager to run the store and staff of five when we were fortunate enough to meet Joel Smith.

“I was thrilled to be accepted for this job,” explains Joel. “I saw this as a wonderful role and an opportunity to do something worthwhile in this community.”

Joel Smith comes from an impressive background in marketing and public affairs for the New Zealand Ministries of Transport and Police, as well 14 years as an owner/operator of five McDonalds’ stores in the North and South Islands. Understandably, he puts customer service as his number one priority.

“We consider and treat all our customers as our guests whom we have the absolute privilege to serve,” says Joel. “This starts with a friendly welcome as soon as they walk in the door.”

New Zealand Mānuka Group CEO, Karl Gradon, also acknowledged and thanked previous store manager, Chris King, for her incredible contribution to the business.

“We wish her and her partner John all the best for the future,” says Karl. “Chris leaves behind a legacy she can be proud of.”

Joel has been building on this legacy since he started in October 2017, implementing a number of changes and innovations store-wide. As well repainting the building and outdoor seating area, the instore café now uses Sublime Coffee and is located in a more accessible location for their regular customers and as well as passing tourists.