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Cathie’s Story

A love story brought Cathie Cottle to Morningside. So it’s fitting that she’s now running a brand new cafe called KIND whose mission is to foster kindness in the area. Being kind to yourself. Being kind to the neighbours. And being kind to the environment.

She’s the perfect person to do it.

That love story began at high school. The way Cathie tells it, she and Nigel, who now runs Crave, were friends through their high school years. They were dating other people at the time. In Nigel’s case, it was a few people.

‘We met at youth group and we were just friends for many years and started dating at the very end of my year 13. I was actually dating someone else through high school. And Nigel was dating a number of other girls through high school. He was a bit of a player,’ Cathie says, with a laugh.

‘That whole year before we dated, he’d been single, and I had broken up with my boyfriend — so that actually made him more attractive to me, that he wasn’t playing the game anymore.’

The love story continues right through their tertiary studies — Nigel doing a business degree, Cathie at the Auckland College of Education with a view to being a primary teacher. According to Cathie, the idea of surviving on a teacher’s salary wasn’t such a daunting thing because Nigel was going to be a businessman and would be earning the big bucks. She even gave up an invitation to do the management track with McDonald’s, knowing Nigel was going to graduate from uni and be the entrepreneurial one.

They graduated, got married, and that’s when Nigel had a Damascus Road experience.

‘Within a couple of months Nigel felt he should volunteer at our local church as a youth worker — that was his business degree gone. He volunteered for a year. He went from a guy that was going to earn a lot of money and it didn’t matter that I was a teacher, to a guy that was bringing in nothing.’

Surely she must have had an inkling something like that would happen?

‘No,’ Cathie says. ‘Not on the radar at all.’

It’s hilarious but it’s also profound. That decision, and how they both embraced a path that in some ways was counter-cultural, led to them selling up and moving to Morningside more than a decade ago in the hope of impacting the neighbourhood for the better. Crave is a manifestation of that hope. KIND is another.

In the intervening years, Cathie continued to teach. She loves kids, she says, and loves being a part of people changing and developing and becoming ‘better versions of themselves’.

‘I just really loved that you can see growth and change and influence — that what you’ve done seems to really make a difference.’

Up until a few months ago, if you’d asked Cathie who she was, she would have said a mother (to three daughters) and a teacher. In fact, she was a teacher for 22 years. But now?

‘I’m actually really excited about doing a new adventure,’ she says, of managing KIND. ‘I’ve grown to love hospitality after slipping into it slowly. I feel that with the support of everyone from Crave, it’s a really safe environment to take the next step, which is quite challenging for me.

‘I’ve never officially worked in this kind of hospitality. McDonald’s is very different to this. There is the added pressure that this is a social enterprise. It has to succeed. But I am excited about that pressure after 22 years of teaching.’

When you visit KIND you’ll immediately get the vibe, which is designed to evoke a French courtyard, with lots of plants and communal tables and lots of glass. It wants you to feel like you’re outside, for good reason. Outside is where the food is grown. KIND’s menu is different to Crave’s as well. It is plant-based and there’s a focus on sustainability and the environment and being eco-friendly. Seventy per cent of the menu is plant-based (no eggs, dairy or cheese), and the remainder is vegetarian.

‘The philosophy of KIND is about eating real food. When you eat at KIND you know where the food is from,’ says Cathie. ‘If Crave’s purpose is about connection, KIND’s purpose is helping Morningside become more healthy, green and sustainable.

‘Our entire cabinet food is plant based, and the drinks list. The main menu is 70 per cent plant-based, with the rest vegetarian.’

As KIND encourages the community to think more about the environment, it also wants Morningside to consider planting edible gardens as a sustainable option. Workshops run by KIND will help them do it.

As for Cathie, after months of preparation she’s now on her way. KIND is officially open and the next stage of her journey has begun.

‘I don’t know if I have what it takes,’ Cathie says. ‘If I knew, I wouldn’t be so nervous.’