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Riverview Café supper revives brainstorming breakfast

by 4 Nov 2014Brainstorming breakfasts0 comments

Toasting the Mahurangi, with Ransom Wines Mahurangi

Saluting the Mahurangi with Mahurangi: Beginning by bus from the Old Masonic Hall, the 10th year of the Mahurangi Action Plan and the 40th year of Mahurangi Action was celebrated grandly, particularly on the way back to Warkworth via the Mahurangi River aboard the heroically restored scow Jane Gifford. Here celebrants toast the Mahurangi, with Mahurangi—contribution of the flagship red, and equal numbers of bottles of Clos De Valerie Pinot Gris, being the warmly generous gesture of Ransom Wines. ex-video image Majorlook Productions

Sometimes the bulk of the brainstorming had already occurred.

On such occasions, the conversation would be more about canvassing support for the new initiative, although it was rare for further brainstorming not to be a feature of the breakfast.

Originally titled the Mahurangi Breakfast Club, the ritual resulted from a question by Kim Morresey, shortly after she took over from the first Mahurangi Action Plan project manager, Stefan Seitzer, in 2007. Kim had asked where Mahurangi Action, then known as Friends of the Mahurangi, met. An apparent mutual scepticism of committee meetings as the best forums for creative development of ideas led to the sharing of an ideal of the informal café discussion of civic, or global, issues. Admittedly, a then extant addiction to espresso coffee by the proposing party flavoured enthusiasm for the café format.

Warkworth’s then only riverside café was the logical venue, given that without the river there would be no harbour for Mahurangi adherents to be concerned about. Besides with the Mahurangi River also being the town’s reason for existence, the few business that face the river deserve every possible support. Known then as Ducks Crossing Café, its al fresco seating served perfectly for weekly discussions too voluble to be reasonably held indoors. Winter meetings could be challenging chilly, with the tendency for the coldest air to drain downstream along with the river water. The midwinter morning in 2008 that the Rodney member of Parliament, Lockwood Smith, elected to attend was particularly cold. Although his staff had been warned that the Mahurangi Breakfast Club was very small beer, Dr Smith insisted on appearing, so it would have been doubly ironic if the meeting’s privations had resulted in enduring harm to the honourable member.

The frequency of the meetings, weekly, was a deliberate decision aimed to curb any tendency towards long agendas, and to encourage attendance only when the spirit moved, or when the anticipated topic for discussion was of particular interest. Above all it was an unselfconscious, leave-your-hats-at-the-door, discussion amongst equals, relying on the civilizing effect of dinning on discussion. The ideal of one discussion at a time was usually respected—plenty of opportunity for small, or sport, talk elsewhere; this was unabashedly the Mahurangi’s time in the sun.

The early morning timeslot (7.30–8.30‍ ‍am) was also deliberate, both to allow those working set hours to attend, and to discourage prolonged exchanges whereby those with more stamina, on time on their hands, might wear down their audience. That said, specific meetings were often timed to follow the breakfast brainstormings, as became the preferred forum name—to disabuse any hint from club that the ritual was closed to the public.

It was most likely another comment by Kim Morresey, now Auckland Council’s catchment team leader, that sowed the seeds for the revival of the Mahurangi brainstorming breakfasts, but the proximate spurs were twofold:

  1. The renaming of the venue, as the Riverview Café. Loss of the whimsical Ducks Crossing Café title was as lamentable as Farmhouse Café was inapt. Riverview Café, in contrast, both describes the prime riverside location and nicely echoes the name of the building, the Riverview Plaza, which is Warkworth’s singular exemplar of contemporary architecture honouring that which previously occupied the site—the town’s dairy factory.
  2. The late afternoon after-match supper for the combined Mahurangi Action Plan 10th and Mahurangi Action 40th anniversaries was held in this most logical and appropriate of venues for revellers who have just come ashore from an uplifting short tour of good Mahurangi Action Plan works in the catchment, afternoon tea and annual general meeting at Scott Homestead, culminating in a sublimely informative and festive voyage up the Mahurangi River in Warkworth’s most-loved and famous daughter, the Jane Gifford.

Thus it is not hard to anticipate the theme for the first revived Mahurangi brainstorming breakfast, 7.30‍ ‍am this Monday morning:

The 2014 Mahurangi Action Plan celebration as a model for an annual combined Mahurangi Action Plan field day – Mahurangi Action annual general meeting.