20 Minutes With Lisa & Donald Templeton, Denheath


Lisa and Donald Templeton, directors of Denheath, took over from Lisa’s mother, Carol Rutland, who purchased Denheath House (country cafe) and the custard square recipe in Pleasant Point in 1996, a decision that changed the family's lives.

Pleasant Point is an integral part of Denheath's backdrop as a brand. New Zealanders nationwide and tourists come to Denheath Hosue to try its renowned custard square. The popularity of the custard square became so widespread that other cafes began requesting to stock it to cater to consumers' love for it.

On November 11 1999, Rutland was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The Templeton’s, Lisa and Donald, along with their newborn son, packed their things and moved to Pleasant Point the same night, and the pair opened the cafe in the morning, with Donald Templeton stating that Rutland shouldn't have to work again.

"Mum had only been given three months to live, but we were blessed to have her for almost a year. She passed in July 2000," shared Lisa Templeton.

In this special time that the family had together, the Templeton’s could connect and understand Rutland's deepest regrets and greatest ambitions to share Denheath's custard goodness worldwide and for it to become a staple in New Zealanders' pantries.

Templeton family

From left to right, Majick, Lisa, Donald, Bingle, Donald, and Keesarla Templeton

"She loved the delight and joy the custard squares gave people, and she saw a product that was not just a local hero but a national hero that could become internationally known."

In honour of Lisa’s mother, the Templeton’s they made Rutland’s ambition central to their goals for Denheath, trademarking the custard square and building a purpose-built factory in Timaru.

"We purchased a refrigerated van, and at 4:30 am every morning, six days a week, Donald would drive to Christchurch to deliver fresh custard squares."

Over time, the Templeton’s developed and found the technology to freeze Denheath Custard Squares to supply wholesale to cafes nationwide through nationwide distributors, after which Templeton opened Denheath's online store. The Denheath Custard Square entered Foodstuffs South Island bakeries, and in 2013, the company received its first Costco order from Australia.

Now, Denheath supplies food service via distributors, Foodstuffs and Woolworths New Zealand nationwide in selected stores in frozen and bakery and has an online store for delivery to the door nationwide. It also specialises in corporate gifts and gifting online in New Zealand and supplies Costco Australia and Costco Auckland, as well as having supplied to Costco stores in Korea and Japan.

So finally, 24 years later, I can stand back and say, okay, mum, we did it. We did it for you.

"So finally, 24 years later, I can stand back and say, okay, mum, we did it. We did it for you."

Lisa said it's been challenging work and a long, arduous journey. One that the pair couldn't have done without the help of their amazing children and Donald's mother and late father.

"With their help, our social followers, and customer's love of Denheath, we did what mum wanted."