The Lamar and Hawkins families purchased Karikaas Cheese from founders Karin and Rients Rypma in 2004.
Diane Hawkins is now the General Manager. The Rypmas migrated to Aotearoa in 1984 from the Netherlands. They started a small cheese factory in Loburn, North Canterbury because the water was pristine, and Karikaas has not moved since. Us cheese lovers are grateful to Karin and Rients like we are to the other early pioneers of great artisan cheese in Aotearoa.
The unique name is a portmanteau of the first two letters of their first names added to ‘kaas’; the Dutch word for cheese. Their birth country is reflected in the orange branding too.
From the outset they have focused on Dutch and other European styles made using traditional techniques. Originally, they used the town milk supply, but after a few years moved to a more farmhouse approach by moving to a sole local supplier. This enabled them to be totally confident about quality and continuity of supply, no doubt a key reason why they have won so many awards. Another reason is that their cheeses do not include preservatives, stabilisers, emulsifiers or colourings, and that they work hard to minimise their impact on the environment.
The Dutch cheeses are coated and turned regularly while maturing for between two months and many years in the cheese store. White pine boards are used in the cheese store, combining New Zealand character, and the known benefits of using natural wood.
They are one of few cheesemakers in Aotearoa to focus on vintage cheeses, although they do produce a wide range including fresh dairy products. Particularly pleasing was new cheesemaker Petra Kasalova and joining with head cheesemaker Bryar Enerson to win the European Trophy at the 2020 New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards in 2020 for their maasdam.