The clever team at Hawke’s Bay Tourism are on to something. They get it. They truly understand the power of an outstanding food and drink story and its ability to give a region a unique point of difference. They also understand the immense dedication and creativity needed by their local stakeholders to develop that point of difference and create an offering that has put Hawke’s Bay on the map as a premium destination for food lovers.

In doing so they have, in conjunction with Cuisine, announced their 2022 F.A.W.C! Hawke’s Bay Legend as pioneering visionary Kim Thorp. Thorp’s dedication to elevating the food, wine and visitor experience in Hawke’s Bay as well as establishing Hawke’s Bay’s reputation as New Zealand’s premier food and wine destination makes him the second recipient of the F.A.W.C! Legend’s Award, after Sir Graeme Avery who was recognised as the inaugural legend last summer.

Kim Thorp and Sir Graeme Avery

Thorp – along with 12 other fellow nominees – was honoured last week at an event on the opening night of Summer F.A.W.C! at The Old Church. It was an event that recognised an incredible field of dedicated and talented food and beverage stars who have all helped to drive and develop the Hawke’s Bay culinary story for 10 years or more.


Well known as the maestro behind the extensive Black Barn brand, Kim changed the tourism industry in Hawke’s Bay with a full suite of food, wine and accommodation offerings under one brand. As one of the country’s legendary advertising creative directors, Kim was also instrumental in designing both the original Wine Country brand alongside Sir Graeme Avery, and its contemporary evolution as the Food and Wine Country brand positioning in 2021.

Hawke’s Bay Tourism, who announced the search for a Legend in 2021, established the award as a means to honour those visionaries who helped shape Food and Wine Country into the amazing playground for foodies that it is today. Finalists were those who could demonstrate a minimum of 10 years’ commitment to food and/or beverage industries in Hawke’s Bay; had contributed to the creation and shaping of the culinary landscape in Hawke’s Bay; had consistently lent their weight and support to Hawke’s Bay as a food and wine destination, and had contributed to or enhanced the visitor experience in Hawke’s Bay.

The 13 finalists and eventual winner were chosen by a panel that comprised Sarah Meikle, Chief Executive of Wellington Culinary Events Trust; Kelli Brett, Editor at Cuisine Magazine, and George Hickton, Chairman of Hawke’s Bay Tourism.

Kelli Brett

“It was difficult to name just one ‘legend’ for the award” said Kelli Brett of Cuisine.

“Each and every one of our finalists have made a lasting, momentous impact on the landscape of food tourism – not just in Hawke’s Bay, but across New Zealand,” says Brett.

“It’s so hard to articulate the immense feel-good factor of this award with so many wonderful and worthy nominees. This event has been an outstanding tribute to the local visionaries who have made a huge contribution to the creation and shaping of their culinary landscape and the 2022 Hawke’s Bay Legend has played an incredibly important role in the development and delivery of a food and drink story that we can all be mighty proud of. It is so very clear that Kim Thorp has had an incredible influence on the landscape of Hawke’s Bay Food and Wine Country, and his dedication to the region makes him an extremely worthy recipient of this year’s Legends honour,” she said.

Hawke’s Bay Tourism Chief Executive Hamish Saxton said it was wonderful to deliver the second iteration of the award, in front of a full room of people after having the event stymied by covid last summer. “The purpose of F.A.W.C! is hold up our region’s amazing food, wine, beverages, chefs, artisans,leaders and producers and or celebrate our prowess in a way for the world to see. However, none of this would be possible if it weren’t for legends like our finalists who have worked tirelessly for decades to develop and innovate the industry they love and then extend manaakitanga to their local communities and manuhiri from all over the globe.”

The award finalists were nominated for their extensive work and talent, with written nominations saying:

– John Bostock, Bostock New Zealand: “John and his family not only improve the land and produce we eat, but he improves the lives of his staff as well.”

– John Buck, Te Mata Estate Winery: “An enduring pioneer of the Hawke’s Bay and New Zealand wine industry. Relentless vision and advocacy for fine wine production from Hawke’s Bay and Te Mata Estate.”

– The Darwen Family, Silky Oak Chocolate: “The Darwen family have operated Silky Oak Chocolate Factory in Hawke’s Bay for over 20 years.  A visit to HB wouldn’t be complete without sampling this Hawke’s Bay institution.”

– Jenny Dobson, Winemaker: “Jenny Dobson is a legend! She is an inspiration to all and has mentored so many of us in the wine industry in Hawke’s Bay.”

– Kate Galloway, Hastings Distillers: “It’s her highly sensitive nose that has seen her rise to the top of her game, first as a winemaker, wine consultant and now, a celebrated distiller.”

– Rod McDonald & Jo Throp, Te Awanga Estate: “He is Mr. Syrah. Nothing more needed to be said. World’s best right in Hawke’s Bay. Jo is the endlessly positive and cheerful full-time promoter of Te Awanga wines and the whole Hawke’s Bay vibe.”

– Greg Miller, Valley D’Vine: “Established in the Hawke’s Bay hospo seen since 2008 and with Valley D’Vine for more than 10 years, looking after visitors, locals and supporting charities throughout.”

– Kate Radburnd, Radburnd Cellars: “Kate has been at the forefront of establishing Hawke’s Bay as New Zealand’s premier wine region. Kate works hard every day to lead, inspire and advocate for HB and the Wine Industry. I can think of no better person to be acknowledged as a Hawke’s Bay Legend.”

– Tim Turvey, Clearview Estate Winery: “An absolute legend. Amazing ambassador for Hawke’s Bay and the best producer of chardonnay in New Zealand.”

– Alexandra Tylee, Pipi Café & Food Truck: “If you are looking for a legend who personifies the best of the Hawke’s Bay foodie culture and uses her many strengths to support everyone in the community, you’ve got one in Alexandra.”

– Claire Vogtherr, Holly Bacon: “Through her hard work and innovation the Holly brand is iconic today. Her contribution to the hospo/ tourism sector has been significant especially when Hawke’s Bay was looking to lift its profile in the late 90s-early 2000.”

Kelli Brett & Kim Thorpe

Kim has received a unique and purpose-made award created by traditional Māori carver Phil Belcher that combines New Zealand agate rock and black maire. The agate, also known as healing stone, was carved by the late Seow Chee, a renowned Hawke’s Bay stone artist and healer from Whakatu.

Further information about the award, finalists and winner can be found at



Image credits: Kirsten Simcox