Hohepa Hawkes Bay: Every Life Fully Lived

August 4, 2022 at 3:15 PM


Hōhepa are a New Zealand not-for-profit organisation who support children and adults with intellectual disabilities by producing meaningful work opportunities, education and holistic care. They are situated in four regions across Aotearoa; at Commonsense we partner specifically with Hōhepa Hawkes Bay, which was founded in 1956. Since 2008 our stores have been proud retailers of Hōhepa’s award winning biodynamic and organic dairy products and in 2016 we welcomed to our shelves their beautiful handmade candles.

Through living and working in community life, people with an intellectual disability will grow to experience satisfying lives with as much independence as possible at Hōhepa Hawkes Bay. Hōhepa’s holistic work and life environment is based on Rudolf Steiner principles through the combination of curative education, social therapy, a rich cultural life and biodynamic farming. It is this understanding of the human being that creates Hōhepa’s distinctive approach to working with people with disability.

“It is about how the spirit can be respected and strengthened that every person can be more soundly on the earth.”

Organic cheese

Not only does this cheese “do-good”, but it is also tastes fantastic- Hōhepa have recently won 6 medals for their cheeses at the 2022 NZ Cheese Awards. This includes 2 Gold Medals for their Vintage and Danbo cheeses. It’s a huge deal for Hōhepa to be recognised among some of the biggest names in Aotearoa cheese and it is a true testament to the quality of their biodynamic and organic cheese and the hard-working team. They also walked away from the awards with the inaugural Sustainability Trophy!

100% Natural Beeswax Candle Workshop

The Hōhepa Hawkes Bay Candle Workshop was founded in the early 1980s and was initially setup to produce candles for Hōhepa and the wider community. Annually they are now turning approximately 1000kg of beeswax into beautiful hand crafted candles, which are available at retailers across the country- like us!

When these 100% natural beeswax candles burn, they work to clean and detoxify the air. Beeswax produces negative ions when burned, these negative ions attach to positive ions (such as dust, pollen, mould, odour, toxins) floating around us and in this process cleans the surrounding air. Fill your home with the sweet scent of honey and breathe easier knowing you’re making your space a healthier place to live and supporting Hōhepa’s talented candlemakers.

For the Planet

Hōhepa Hawkes Bay’s 66 year-old farm in Clive is recognised as Aotearoa’s oldest commercially certified bio-dynamic farm. Bio-dynamic farming is regarded as the most sustainable and advanced form of organic farming as it acknowledges the ethical and ecological approach to agriculture which balances the relationship of earth, plants, animals and people.

Earlier this year Hōhepa transitioned their cheese packaging into home compostable packaging. What’s more, the team have recently introduced an electric van to their operation for delivering biodynamic re-fillable milk in glass bottles to the Hawkes Bay. They even have an electric quad bike for using on the farm!

(Left) Hōhepa's new electric van. (Right) Robert watering in the native treenursery


Residential life at the Hōhepa community usually begins at the school which is situated on a biodynamic farm in the Poraiti hills just outside Napier. The school provides education, opportunities and fun for students aged 7-21 with special learning needs. Once students reach the age of 21 they may move to the adult programmes.

The adult community life involves the residents in daily vocational programmes, ranging from creative skills such as weaving, woodwork, candlemaking, farming and gardening. The personal development and achievement in these vocational areas are linked to NZQA accredited courses and certificates. Goods from the farm and creative studios are sold through Hōhepa’s shop located in Clive, and through retailers like us. The emphasis is on giving a sense of worth through contributing and being a part of ‘real work’.

When you buy a Hōhepa product it means you are supporting a meaningful work place for people with intellectual disability in Aotearoa.