About Us

manaaki 1. (verb) (-tia) to support, take care of, give hospitality to, protect, look out for.

Our place is so much more than a building, or just a café. Since it was first dreamed about, it’s always been a place for people. A place to gather, a place to meet your friends or make new ones, a place to share stories, a place to relax, to feel welcome, a place to be.

Philip and Anne Woodward have lived together in Waikaretu since 1976, Philip since he was two years old. They have five adult children, James, Emily, Catherine, Nicola and Andrew, and an expanding brood of grandchildren.

They opened the cave on their farm to the public in 1994 and as the business grew so did the need to have a dedicated centre to operate from. Their dreams for the café grew for many years before the first foundations were laid, and after a long building process the café opened its doors in 2008.

The café philosophy has always been fresh, seasonal, local and hospitable.

Family is of absolute importance to the Woodwards, and the cave and café business has always been a family affair. Eldest son James has been a cave guide and helped with the physical building of the café. Emily is a cave guide, cook, barista and waitress, Catherine is a barista, waitress and office help and her husband Frode is an occasional cave guide and the onsite builder. Nicola, with her husband Richard, moved in and helped get the cafe up and running when it first opened, and Andrew has worked as a cook, cave guide and barista.

The family farm is now leased by Nikau Coopworth, a Coopworth sheep stud owned by daughter Emily Welch and her husband Sam, with a partner, Kate Broadbent.

Emily and Sam also have a shearing business, Clayton-Greene & Welch Shearing, and if Philip isn’t in the cave or behind the bar he could well be out working for them. Emily holds the women’s nine hour lamb shearing world record and Sam the men’s two stand nine hour record.