Market prize makes its way Due North

Pam Mearns' Due North delicacies stall at the Kia Ora Kaitaia Festival.
Pam Mearns' Due North delicacies stall at the Kia Ora Kaitaia Festival.

Pam Mearns accepts that she doesn't fit the corporate image. Her fine food business, Due North, perhaps had too many lines and insufficiently aggressive marketing to be a world force, she said yesterday, but she was happy with what she was doing, and proud of what she was producing.

She is especially proud now that she has won a Farmers' Market NZ award with her Ninety Mile HOT mango and manuka sauce.

Due North, the latest manifestation of a cottage industry (originally Kitchen 14) that Mrs Mearns began at her home in Kaitaia some 15 years ago, was highly commended at the awards, with a range of products in 2012, but now one of her sauces has gone all the way.

Pam Mearns and her Farmers' Market NZ award-winning Ninety Mile HOT mango and manuka sauce.
Pam Mearns and her Farmers' Market NZ award-winning Ninety Mile HOT mango and manuka sauce.

This particular sauce was the result of a joint effort with her geologist/IT son Rory, she said, using local honey, limes and chillies. The mangos came from Australia, but using local ingredients was very important to her, the manufacturing of her 40-odd products at any given time depending on the availability of myriad fruit and vegetables.

There were some exceptions - she bought her apples in Whangarei and garlic in Marlborough, now that the Far North didn't produce the quantities she needed - but her aim had always been to make the most of the excellent ingredients to be found in the Far North.

The business was still a small one - Mrs Mearns has one part-time employee on her payroll - but quality had always been the priority over quantity.

Mrs Mearns, who grew up on a farm in South Africa, credits her mother's skill, practicality and resourcefulness for her love and knowledge of food and horticulture, a passion that she brought to New Zealand more than 25 years ago.

- Northland Age

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