All agreed the Mission Estate Winery, Napier, New Zealand was the perfect venue for our gathering on the 11 September 2004. The sun shone giving us a glorious view of Napier and its surrounds.
Twenty-seven members, family and friends of the Clan MacRae Society gathered together to celebrate our Scottish heritage. We were accommodated in the red room at the Mission that opened out onto a veranda looking towards Bluff Hill.
We enjoyed a perfectly presented set menu with choices of Fish, Chicken or Beef accompanied by delicious sauces and seasonal vegetables, followed by an assortment of desserts.
Sue Tregoweth welcomed everyone, read out an apology from Molly Akers who was ill with a viral infection and several other members who were unable to attend, from the immediate area and as far away as Invercargill, Canada and Argentina. Murray MacRae thanked Sue for organising the Luncheon at such a picturesque and historical venue and Peter McRae suggested we send Molly our best wishes for speedy recovery from all at the luncheon.
The Mission Estate was established in 1851 by the French Marist religious order. Mission Estate Winery is New Zealands oldest winemaker. The Society of Mary was founded near Lyon in France. In 1838 a group of French Missionaries arrived and established the Marist Mission in New Zealand. Besides being a missionary order, the fathers followed the tradition of fine winemaking. Grapes were planted to produce both sacramental and table wine. Mission has never lost sight of its French heritage, as over the years Brothers of the Order have travelled to France to study and learn viticultural and winemaking skills.
In February 1931 an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale struck Hawkes Bay causing serious damage to the entire mission and death to seven priests and students. Everyone was moved temporarily but by February 1932 they had returned and set to work restoring the grounds.
Since 1991, all seminary students have moved and are now in residence in Auckland.
Today, Mission Estate is Hawkes Bays largest independent winery, with a well-respected reputation in the New Zealand market as a producer of consistent quality, value for money wines.
We hope to find a similar venue in Nelson for next year.