Hawkes Bay Butcher from New World Greenmeadows ‘Aaron Pohatu‘ just won the Lower North Island regional BEST butcher title and a place in the national champs. We’re all so proud of you Aaron, especially since you weren’t going to enter! So awesome, well done!

Story – Hawkes Bay Butcher Aaron Pohatu took out the lower North Island regional 2018 Alto Butcher of the Year title in Wellington last weekend and accordingly booked a place in the national event.

“I’m thinking about it already,” Pohatu, who plies his skills at New World Greenmeadows, said as he accepted the congratulations of his workmates after arriving back at the chopping block on Monday. As his butchery boss Kieran Horsefield said, “We are all very proud of him.”  Horsefield won the regional title last year and a few months back encouraged his colleague to “give it a go”.

“But it’s not the sort of thing I’d normally do,” Pohatu said, adding his response to his boss was “probably not”. But he went home and thought about it — and thought about how he could apply his passion for creating something away from the usual cuts. After deciding to take on the challenge his efforts, in creating 32 trays of creative cuts from chicken, beef and pork, in just two hours, resulted in the thumbs-up from the judges. “My theme for this was ‘native New Zealand’.” He sourced and used garnishings such as puha, manuka, kanuka flowers and bush asparagus. They hit the mark.

“I like to throw a bit of a spin on it,” was how he put his desire to create something eye-catching and tasty. He will pursue the “native New Zealand” theme in the grand finals but will drop back the number of cuts because it put too much additional pressure on given the time frame. “I will just dig deeper.” He is looking forward to the challenge of taking on the rest of the country’s very best. “The Auckland guys seem to take it out every year so I’ll have my work cut out — but I want to give them a go.” Pohatu has been in the butchery trade for 18 years, having done his apprenticeship at a Havelock North butchery and also spent eight years in the army. Back in his younger years he had been a “full-on hunter” and said he wanted to learn how to cut and prepare his own meat — so took up the trade. With youngsters at home now he had not been too involved in hunting lately but with a smile said, “I’ll get back there.”

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