Neil and Kristina Higgins are the new faces to look out for when exploring the eastern side of the island, especially when it comes to grabbing that early morning caffeine hit or a slice of something nice before the start of a busy day.
Europeans by birth but now Kiwis, the proud new owners of the little café on the corner of Muri village, “Deli-licious,” took over the reins in November 2015.
Looking for a lifestyle change, and an escape from the pressure, long hours and the motorway madness in central Auckland, they say acquiring a business of this size was perfect for them.
Being the third owners of the boutique café, the Higgins are determined to make it work, and with that in mind, are even more determined to make Rarotonga their homeland for many more years to come.
With no hospitality experience behind them apart from the odd part-time job behind the bar at a younger age, the duo have nothing but smiles about their decision. They say they could not be any more excited about what the business could bring their small family, including the possible challenges that may come down the line.
The couple hasn’t come here alone. Teenage daughters Teale and Keelyn have also settled well into their new surroundings and are slowly embracing the change. With big personalities and open minds it looks like it’s going to take more than the annoying mozzies’ that lurk at this time of the year to scare them away.
“In terms of the café, we haven’t really changed much in both the operations and the overall dynamics of the café. We love the staff that was originally here and thankfully are still here, because we all work together really well,” says Kristina.
Kristina, who comes from a corporate background, and Neil who has worked for Corrections Services most of his life, say that although they have never owned a food outlet before their combined skills mean they can make a pretty good coffee and can engineer an even better home-style meal.
“We use local produce from around the island and we even have the odd local grower who allows us to pick straight from their gardens. This, to us, reaffirms the true Cook Island hospitality which we love and respect,” says Neil.
“Potentially we want to turn our café into a place where not only tourists and our regulars come to dine, but also to be a place where new faces and locals will love to hang out too,” says Kristina.
As well as being café owners, the Higgins family are also guilty of being rugby addicts.
“We are huge rugby fans,” says Kristina, “and from what we’ve seen, so is Rarotonga.”
Although not quite ready to trade in their Crusader jerseys for Sea Eagles ones, the Higgins family are overwhelmed by the sheer hospitality the home of the Eagles have shown them, and are looking forward to one day donning the village colours on the rugby field for a bit of fun.
So if you’re passing, walking, running or sailing past the café, stop in for a treat, I can guarantee you it is all “Deli-licious.”