New Zealand beer, New Zealand lamb and, hopefully, plenty of New Zealand success to cheer.
What more could Kiwis in London want during the 2012 London Olympics?
A small part of central London is being transformed into a slice of New Zealand in time for the games, which officially get underway with the opening ceremony on Friday evening.
Located a short walk from the King’s Cross St. Pancras transport hub, Kiwi House is a space for New Zealanders in London to meet each other and cheer on those wearing the silver fern with pride.
It has been over a year in the planning, since the New Zealand Olympic Committee raised the idea of creating a spot in the city for New Zealanders, both living in London and visiting for the games, to celebrate the achievements of those competing on the international stage.
The NZOC contracted Lily and Piper, a London-based integrated events agency, to make the vision reality, with a crew of volunteers and employees working frantically to finish everything off before Friday’s opening ceremony party.
“Because London is quite an important destination for New Zealanders and the athletes, there is so much connection, we really tried to work out a way we could develop Kiwi House,” said Melissa Gilmour, director of Lily and Piper.
The first challenge was finding an appropriate site, with New Zealand having to battle with the budgets of Russia and Brazil for a location.
“We were really lucky with this place, it was always under development, Central St Martins [College of Art and Design] have been really open to having New Zealanders in here, and the house.
“It’s also a new development, so we’ve managed to cleverly put the outside together with the inside to create the space.”
Kiwi House, sited on the edge of Granary Square, features an outside garden-bar, much of which was constructed by a team of volunteers, a perfect spot to sit under a cabbage tree and enjoy the scorching weather.
Inside there is a space for people to mix and mingle, explore New Zealand art and design, view multimedia featuring our previous Olympic exploits, and watch live entertainment from a small stage.
It was funded through an NZOC seed fund and its partners, and generous New Zealand expats, while businesses with a Kiwi connection have also pitched in.
“I really hope that we end up becoming one of the destination houses, despite the fact we haven’t pumped millions into it,” Melissa said.
“It will be somewhere that people just want to come and experience.”
Entry to Kiwi House is £5 and is open from 8am each day, with food and drink available throughout.
There will be a live feed from Sky Sport, ensuring fans don’t miss out on any Kiwi action.
“This is the only place you can come to in London to watch the games live from a New Zealand perspective, so it’s a really important destination for friends and family of athletes as well.
“It’s primary for them to be able to see the wins.”
Moa beer and wines from Bancroft will be available, as well as coffee from Allpress Espresso.
The menu has been designed by renowned New Zealand chef Peter Gordon.
Capacity is 500, enough to create a decent racket if, as expected, New Zealand athletes win a few medals.
There are four ticketed events – the opening and closing ceremonies, singer Holly Smith and comedian Jarred Christmas, all of which are already sold out.
Kiwi House was officially opened yesterday with a Maori blessing.