Kiwi delights ... Keith Tuoro has opened up a store in Hume that sells food from New Zealand. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
L&P soft drink, Griffin's biscuits, Bluebird chips, Perky Nana chocolate bars, Diamond rice risotto, Wattie's tomato sauce - names that perhaps means little to the average Australian but which are held dear as iconic products to New Zealanders. And now New Zealand expats have them on tap in Canberra.
Keith Tuoro, an amiable father of nine from Waikato (so, yes, he goes for the Chiefs and, no, he doesn't go for the Brumbies) opened his store, NZ Delights, in March.
In an unassuming block in the industrial suburb of Hume, Tuoro is giving New Zealanders not only a taste of home but also a memory of childhood, with shelves stacked with old-school lollies such as pineapple lumps and wine gums. There's Marmite, manuka honey, and some dairy products including Kiwi-brand ice-cream. The product taglines would also be fondly recalled by Kiwis. Nestle Reduced Cream is ''the original Kiwi dip'' and L&P (lemon and paeroa) soft drink is ''world famous in New Zealand''.
A taste from home for Kiwis
Griffin's biscuits at Keith Tuoro's store NZ Delights in Hume. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
But there's a serious side to his business as well. Tuoro stocks harder to find Pacific Island favourites like mutton birds, seafood including mussels, and taro.
Tuoro, who used to work in the timber industry in New Zealand and the construction sector in Australia, moved to Canberra in 2001, before a stint in Brisbane, then returning to Canberra in 2009. This year, he finally bit the bullet and opened his New Zealand food store.
''I was sick of going home to buy stuff,'' he says. ''In Queensland, we had a [NZ products] shop just down the road so it was easy to go and stock up. When we came back to Canberra, we started to think, 'Why don't we start up a shop?'
''There's a strong New Zealand community in Queanbeyan and a big Pacific Islander community in south Canberra, Tuggeranong. But we're everywhere. You can't get rid of us.''
Tuoro is using a New Zealand imports company based in Australia but hopes to eventually import his own products.
''When I'm big enough,'' he says. ''I've got to learn to walk first.''
He also hopes to get his liquor licence next year to start selling New Zealand beer, including the Speight's and Waikato labels.
There are also limited fresh vegetables for sale targeting the south Pacific community, including taro, banana leaf and green bananas.
''Like any culture, we like our own food,'' Tuoro says. ''And if someone asks us to get something, we do our best to get it.''
Rugby-mad (to make himself smile for the camera, he said ''All Blacks'' instead of ''cheese''), Tuoro is the brother-in-law of Canberra product Keith Morgan, who plays Australian schoolboys rugby. Tuoro also wants to start a New Zealand supporters group to get together, eat, socialise - and watch rugby.
''New Zealanders are all about hospitality and food always comes into it,'' he says.
>> NZ Delights at unit 1/21 Raws Crescent, Hume, opens Wednesday to Friday 10am to 5pm and Saturday 10am to 3pm.
>> Megan Doherty is a staff reporter.