Taste of the islands and a trim on the side

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Mr Maireriki and some of the island merchandise on sale at Kai and Kutz.

By John Keast

Get some kai. Have your hair cut. Check out a sarong.

You can do that now, all in one shop.

Mahu Maireriki and wife Lydia have opened Kai and Kutz in Tancred Street, Ashburton, and it is the first of its type in Canterbury.

Mahu was born in the Cook Islands, Lydia in the United States.

They met here, when Lydia was studying at Canterbury University.

She is now doing a PhD at Lincoln in disaster management.

Mahu was working on the new office block in Ashburton, but repeated trips up flights of stairs made his knees ache.

He has a plate in one from a rugby injury.

So he decided to change course – to food, hair-cuts and island items – ukuleles, sarongs, traditional mats and island shirts.

They will be sold in a separate area.

Upstairs, two barbers will operate.

And if visitors do not want a hair cut, they can just chat.

Mr Maireriki said the shop motto was Here to Serve, but that went beyond food to serving the community.

He said he and the others wanted to be mentors to young people.

“Think of others before yourself.

“The original plan was to have a food shop and partition for the barber shop, but we can’t do that because of regulations, but this will be better.

“It’s for the people, to enjoy something different,” he said.

Mr Maireriki said he lived in Australia for a long time before coming to New Zealand, and there were shops that sold island food and island items, but none that also had a barbershop.

The island comfort food will include chop suey, chicken, casava, raw fish, corned beef and other island food.

Mr Maireriki said he had already had a lot of people asking when he was opening.

“Everyone needs a hair cut and I thought, ‘why not’.”