Artist-created tables encourage Kiwis to connect over a meal in three destinations across New Zealand.
A selfie stand, a Nīkau palm at its centre, and a frame made from rocks and gravel to provide a home for ferns, grasses, and creepy crawlies are just a few of the incredible features that make up a new Hawke's Bay, 'Connection Table'.
Installed by Wattie's and designed by local artist Josh Lancaster, the table has been created to encourage Kiwis to connect with their friends and family over a shared meal.
Located on the famous coastal cycle trail between Haumoana and Te Awanga, this is the first of three tables installed across the country, with tables soon to arrive in Nelson and Auckland. All are different, but this first table in Hawke's Bay, the home of Wattie's, draws on the natural elements of its surroundings to create a point of connection for the local community.
"As a landscape painter, I have a strong connection to nature, not just in the places I paint, but the place I paint from. Often, my attention is drawn to a particular Nīkau palm in my garden as Pīwakawaka darts about its towering fronds chasing bugs, or perhaps a kererū stops to gorge on berries. I wanted my table to allow people to enjoy something similar," said Lancaster.
"I love the idea of the Nikau table being a connection point - drawing local humans and birdlife to catch up for lunch together. A chance to stop and appreciate one another just for a moment before returning to our lives."
With roots in Hawke's Bay dating back almost 90 years, the location of the first table was critical to Wattie's Head of Marketing, Justine Powell.
"Wattie's has been at the centre of Kiwi's tables and the Hawke's Bay community since 1934, so we know well the power of connection," said Powell.
Watties wanted to create the tables as an ever-lasting and memorable way for Kiwi families to come together and share time.
"We know that can be challenging. Our research has shown that there are barriers to eating together for eight out of ten Kiwi households. For over a third, the main barrier is scheduling differences in the household.
"Yet connection is a vital part of overall well-being and is often put aside due to busy schedules and distractions such as electronic devices. Hopefully, our table can help overcome that by becoming a focal point for people where they can come together."
The research also revealed that 48 percent of households have rules around devices at the dinner table.
Psychologist Sara Chatwin said eating together at the table is a great way to encourage and maintain connection between families and friends.
Chatwin continued that through research, it appears fewer people are coming together to eat, with 25 percent of Kiwis only eating at the table together once a week or not at all. However, Kiwis understand the importance of coming together to eat, with 58 percent of those surveyed stating that a lockdown benefit was enjoying meals with their whanau or housemates.
"The Wattie's connection tables are a great way to encourage our communities to prioritise connection. Together with Wattie's, we're on a mission to call Kiwis together and help Kiwis prioritise connection in their daily lives," concluded Chatwin.