About Your Hosts

Mike and Annette could well be described as Natural Born Hosts, to steal a line from Hollywood. Born and raised in Auckland, Mike was footloose and fancy-free around twenty five years ago when he and a pal boarded a luxury liner for a fun cruise around the Caribbean. It wasn’t long before the food and beverage administrator on board, a Canadian beauty of German extraction, caught his eye. Annette and Mike were positively enchanted with each other, rapidly became inseparable, and were married on board 1 year later.

Settling back in New Zealand, they managed to secure a struggling restaurant and bar in Helensville, which they could see a future for. With an exuberant Mike front of house, and a talented Annette in the engine room, it wasn’t long before Cafe88 was a thriving business with an excellent reputation and loyal following. Out of this business grew an awareness for Mike and Annette of a gap in the market – a gap which fascinated them, and one which would dominate their business life for the next decade.

They spent much of the mid to late nineties, as part of a team of four, developing the highly successful themed event company, Creative Functions. This dynamic business quickly grew to a size which meant the team regularly needed to organise entire events, often involving multi-course plated meals, to hundreds of patrons across a number of venues, on the same night. This innovative business remained the leader in its field for many years, and spawned a number of imitations. Eventually, Creative Functions altered direction. Mike and Annette, whilst they remain directors of the successful entities which were borne out of Creative Functions, had altered direction too….

Popular legend has it that, Mike and Annette enjoyed their own wedding so much that they wanted to re-live it a few times every week. Perhaps this is why they acquired a gorgeous wedding venue in Waimauku, straight across the road from Matua, called Rivermill. Following extensive alterations, extensions and refitting, the venue’s name was rebranded as Kumeu Valley Estate.

Meanwhile, on a personal level, from around the time of the Millenium, they’d embarked upon a fairly intensive breeding programme. For a few months they had “four under four”, and nowadays sport a posse of five great, active, healthy kids, all at school and thriving. A big house on a few acres in Waimauku has been home to the Simpkins since the late nineties. Hosts through and through, its not uncommon to find anywhere from ten to forty friends, neighbours and family being treated to some Simpkins hospitality when they have a day away from the venues.

Back to business, a few years back, Mike and Annette were lucky enough to secure a second unique venue in the heart of Mt Albert. Nestled among the gardens in the heart of the Unitec Campus, beside a babbling brook, was a somewhat unkempt, but classic, antiquated brick and Kauri structure. Once upon a time it was the pumphouse for the reticulated water around Mt Albert. Thousands of hours of painstaking restoration work, followed by extensive refitting, has resulted in a charming and elegant venue which literally oozes with original character. Mike personally managed the project, while Annette kept things going at Kumeu Valley Estate. Successfully operating as an upmarket café for the Unitec students and staff for some years now, our intrepid hosts always knew it had ‘wedding’ written all over it. Carrington’s Pumphouse is now more greatly focussed on private functions and is Mike’s project while Annette keeps the Kumeu Valley Estate ship running smoothly.

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