Tuesday, 22 October 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

From Whitianga to Boise for the best pies in the world

Whitianga residents, Reg and Julie Smith, were present when Scott Brown, the US ambassador to New Zealand, personally handed their daughter, Katie Munro, and her husband, Chris, their E2 visas to live and work in the US in Auckland on Tuesday last week.

The US Congress passed an act several months ago that paved the way for Kiwis to obtain E-class visas from June this year. Chris and Katie were the first two New Zealand citizens to be granted visas under the new arrangement.

The E-class visas enable citizens from a select group of countries to relocate to the US to establish businesses or take up employment with businesses that are successfully trading.

“We’ve been based in Boise, Idaho for 18 months already, under a combination of different visas,” says Chris. “During our time in Boise, we’ve established a factory baking real Kiwi pies and slices and also a downtown café in the city. Our E2 visas will give us the ability to plan more comfortably for the future and grow the business.

“We’ve been in New Zealand, in Whitianga with Reg and Julie, for the past three months, while we were waiting for our E2 visas to be processed.”

Chris and Katie owned a roofing business in Queenstown and Wanaka before their move to Boise. They met through jetsprint boating. Reg and Julie are previous New Zealand and world series champions and Chris is still an active competitor. “It was during a jetsprint meeting in Boise a few years that I thought about establishing a pie factory in the city,” says Chris. “There was nowhere to get some decent fast food and I was craving a good old meat pie.

“When Katie and I decided that it was time for change, to do something different, we packed our bags and hopped on a plane to Boise.

“Our café in the city is called Kiwi Shake & Bake and sells not only a variety of pies and slices, but also seafood chowder, vegetable soup, fish and chips, mousetraps, salads, ice cream milkshakes, carrot cake, lolly cake and apple crumble.

“We also have a licence to sell beer and wine and, of course, make the best flat white in Idaho.”

The Boise metropolitan area has a population of just more than 700,000. Katie says the city has a small town feel and the people are friendly. “It’s very similar to New Zealand,” she says. “The people are open to new things and our downtown café is genuinely popular.”

Chris and Katie’s factory is mostly supplying Kiwi Shake & Bake at the moment, but they plan to aggressively grow the factory’s wholesale market now that they have their E2 visas in hand. “There are businesses out there keen to talk to us and the Boise State Broncos football team has also showed interest,” says Chris. “University football in the US is massive. The Broncos football team alone feed more than 100 people three times a day for seven months of the year.”

Among the pies and slices baked in the factory are bacon and egg pies, chicken and mushroom pies, satay chicken pies, butter chicken pies, steak and chees pies, steak and mushroom pies, mince and cheese pies, custard squares, chocolate fudge slices, brownies, raspberry slices and melting moments.

“In total, we’re already employing 20 US staff,” says Chris. “That definitely helped us to get our E2 visas.”

Reg and Julie are very proud of what Chris and Katie are doing in the US. “They tell us their pies the best in the world,” says Reg. “I guess we’ll soon have to make a trip to Boise and go see for ourselves.”   

Pictured: Chris and Katie Munro with Scott Brown (centre), the US ambassador to New Zealand, when they received their E2 visas on Tuesday last week.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.