Rata restaurant helping to save its namesake native

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A Queenstown restaurant is donating to a project aimed at ensuring survival of favourite Kiwi natives pohutukawa and rata. 

MasterChef New Zealand judge Josh Emett’s aptly-named Rata restaurant is donating four per cent of revenue from a new menu offering to a trust dedicated to conserving both species. 

This new $50 four-course lunch is available daily and includes a glass of pinot noir from project partner Martinborough winery Ata Rangi. 

The Project Crimson Conservation Trust, which will be the recipient of the money, was set up more than 20 years ago when pohutukawa and rata trees nationwide were on the verge of being wiped out. The trust has fought for the survival of both. 

Emett’s business partner Fleur Caulton says their Rata restaurant has strong synergy with the trust’s work and they want to use their restaurant to promote its projects. 

“Our catchline is ‘Uniquely Southern’ which signals our absolute love for the south and its environment and that particularly includes native trees like the rata.” 

Rata restaurant’s feature wall is a stunning image of the rata in its Wakatipu landscape at the head of the lake and the goal is to help heighten appreciation locally of the significance of the species. 

“We expect great support from both our local customers and visitors who like the idea of helping preserve this important part of NZ’s heritage,” Caulton says. 

“The trust has made a lot of progress nationally in planting both pohutukawa and rata trees, as well as coordinating a range of maintenance and protection programmes and promoting public education but it needs ongoing assistance.”