No cheese rolls could beat his mum's, but the ones to be served at the "world famous" Southland Party will be delicious too, says veteran journalist Barry Soper.
The Newstalk ZB political editor says the idea for the get-together came about 15 years ago, as a chance for Southlanders to enjoy fine southern fare and reminisce about their home province.
The last party, in 2012, was a "resurrection" after a nine-year hiatus from the Wellington social calendar, but Soper is hoping to make it a regular event.
The parties were a highlight for many southern expats, attracting about 400 Southlanders to the banquet hall at Parliament in its heyday. "At the first one we had about 80 people interested and more than double turned up. It became something of a cult party with lots of rolling Rs."
Born and bred in Gore, Soper left Southland in his late teens.
"The Soper family is a very big farming family in Southland, we had a reunion four years ago and more than 600 people went.
"It was a unique experience growing up in Southland. The things we see now as absolute delicacies, like Bluff oysters, when I was young a man used to come with a sack of oysters, Dad would shuck them himself and they were a staple diet in season. I remember buying oysters for 40 cents a dozen."
Oysters will be one of a variety of southern delicacies at the party. Soper has managed to rope-in two special guests to mind the cheese rolls - or "Southland sushi" - on the night: wife Heather du Plessis-Allan and Southlander Rachel Morton.
Profits from this year's event will go to the Bluff Coastguard New Rescue Boat Appeal.
All party-goers will go in the draw for a return trip to Southland for two worth $3000, including a night's accommodation at Stewart Island Lodge.
The Southland Party takes place next Friday at Parliament's banquet hall at 6.30pm. Tickets, which are $60, can be bought from Barry Soper or any of the organising committee (details at facebook.com/ TheSouthlandParty), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Dominion Post
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