One of our informal sessions on campus (University of Auckland)

One of our informal sessions on campus (University of Auckland)

Our history goes back to 2011 when one of our founding members fell in love with kava while doing his doctoral research on the islands of the South Pacific.  After several months of experimenting with locally available varieties and preparation methods he introduced the plant to a couple of his friends and colleagues at the University of Auckland as an attractive alternative to alcohol and a pleasant after-work beverage. We started meeting once or twice a week to drink our favourite kavas, try new cultivars or products, engage in spirited discussions about anything from politics to movies to sports, eat light snacks and generally have a good time.  

 A kava sampling session (University of Auckland, 2017).

A kava sampling session (University of Auckland, 2017).

With time, our kava sessions started attracting more and more people and the informal University of Auckland Kava Appreciation Society was created with the aims of sampling new kava varieties, discovering some of the world's finest kavas and learning about the plant itself and the fascinating kava culture. For the sake of simplicity, after some discussion we decided to shorten our name to “the Kava Society”. In October 2014 we decided to create the first version of this website to promote sound knowledge about kava and some of the best kavas from around the Pacific.

After sampling hundreds of different kavas both in New Zealand and around the Pacific, we have acquired a good knowledge about various cultivars and kava producers. We have also become much more aware of the issues of kava quality, purity, nobility and problems with some of the kava vendors (you can read more about these matters in our About Kava section). As none of the existing NZ kava suppliers could meet our requirements for kava's quality, purity and consistency, as well as diversity of kava types and forms, by 2013 we decided to travel to the islands, build connections with trustworthy and highly skilled farmers and source all of our kavas directly from their places of origin.   We also began to regularly test and analyse our kava to ensure that we only consume the finest, pure and noble roots with the most desirable effects.

Paradoxically, all the research work undertaken with the help of modern scientific methods and equipment has allowed us to, in many ways, to rediscover the factors that determined the selection of the most desirable kavas before the emergence of mass exports of low quality, dried kava powders in the 20th century.

 A quick after-work session at the Auckland University of Technology

A quick after-work session at the Auckland University of Technology

Initially, we only wanted to import kava for our own use. However, as an increasing number of both new and experienced kava drinkers had tried or heard of our kava, we started to receive numerous requests from people looking for high-quality noble kava. In response to the growing demand and fantastic feedback, in early 2014 we decided to add a small online shop to our Society's website. In 2018, order to facilitate its management and in light of the growing number of loyal customers, we established The Kava Society Limited as the entity in charge the shop and other commercial activities.

The experience with running our little shop has made us firmly believe that that making pure, high quality and noble kavas available for easy purchase is the best ways of promoting the plant and the culture of its consumption.  To put it simply, those who try our kava discover for themselves that properly prepared, good kava does what it is famous for. While just like any other food product, kava might not be for everyone, the chances that one finds kava enjoyable are dramatically increased when they drink high-quality kava, as opposed to weak, impure or otherwise unsatisfactory kava. 

 A kava conference at the Waikato University co-organised by members of our society

A kava conference at the Waikato University co-organised by members of our society

More recently, the format of our informal meetings and some of our goals have shifted. As many of our founding members graduated from the University of Auckland or moved to work at other academic institutions, our meetings on campus have become less frequent. Instead, we have been organising informal kava sessions across Auckland and the Upper North Island. Our smaller group of core members has also been dedicating more attention to kava research and advocacy (as opposed to just kava drinking ;). 

In addition to organising various social events, we have been working to provide accurate information about kava and its uses, support kava-related research projects and to promote responsible kava consumption in New Zealand. Over the last years we have organised and co-organised a number of workshops and seminars on kava, as well as contributed to kava publications and responded to numerous media and scholarly enquiries related to kava science, economics and industry. 

In 2017 we decided to launch a new project, the Pop-Up Kava Bar with the aim of bringing kava to new places and to be able to both introduce it to new people and share it with more experienced drinkers in a laid back format that takes inspiratation from Vanuatu's famous nakamals (kava bars). 

We hope our website will help you to learn about kava and find answers to some of the frequently asked questions . If you have any question or would like to try some kava with us, please feel free to contact us.