Tessa Peach opened Frances Nation in the Christchurch Arts Centre in 2017, after returning home to Aotearoa from London. With its focus on New Zealand made 'daily wares', that are equally durable, functional and beautiful to look at, Frances Nation has earned a loyal following of locals and out-of-towners who appreciate the quality of and unique story behind each thoughtfully selected piece.
In 2020, Tessa opened Frances Nation Grocer, a separate but nearby space selling New Zealand made picnic supplies and pantry items. “We are all about the special, delicious treats that are hard to find, made by passionate people.”
Tessa lives in a small 1970s townhouse in central Ōtautahi Christchurch with her wife, artist Emma Fitts, and dog Spy. "It is super compact with a courtyard garden. We are part of a block of 11 connected flats, it’s been cool having so many neighbours. Our good friends Abby and Carm just moved in to the block so that’s fun."
"I think Christchurch is one of the most underrated cities in Aotearoa! It’s a modern city with comparably affordable housing so a lot of young people are starting to move here. The centre is very green and pedestrian friendly with lots of great local businesses. I also like how you can follow the river on your bike from the city centre past community gardens, urban farms and forests, all the way out to the beach."
Favourite place for a drink?
Best place for breakfast?
Child Sister is so great, beautifully simple décor with a Korean influenced brunch menu, a ten minute walk from our house. Their kimchi eggs are incredible.
Where do you get your morning coffee - and what’s your coffee order?
First coffee is in bed, second is usually at my grocer – tulip flat white.
The restaurant you’ve been going to for years?
We have been pretty religious about visiting Bensons in Riccarton for Sichuan style Chinese. The owner Kathy is lovely and we are obsessed with the chilli eggplant dish.
Favourite restaurant to visit with friends?
Gatherings is always super relaxed with impressive local food and wine.
For something fancy?
Inati. I’ve actually only been there once, damn but it was nice! I’m inspiring myself to go there again.
Best ‘cheap eat’?
We have amazing Indian restaurants down here owing to our large Indian community. Shout out to Biwarchi and Bikanervala which has beautiful South Indian food and is always pumping. I also love Richmond Seafood fish ‘n chips on Stanmore Road.
Brunch on a Sunday: where would we find you?
Your local bar or pub?
Pomeroy’s is a five minute walk away and a Christchurch institution.
Favourite place for date night.
Honestly, my favourite thing to do is to go for a late night city walk with our dog Spy.
Your regular supermarket?
We have the Mediterranean Food Company a few blocks away which is incredibly tempting. Over lockdown I panic-bought so much pasta.
Where do you go for ‘special’, non-supermarket food or drink?
Frances Nation Grocer! We are all about the special, delicious treats that are hard to find, made by passionate people.
Favourite place for live music?
Favourite gallery or museum?
The Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū is always a good experience. Melanie Oliver is a curator to watch, she has an amazing eye and is pushing hard for better representation of women, Māori and Moana artists. I go to every show at The Physics Room, an excellent contemporary gallery which is also in the Arts Centre.
Where do you go for some relaxation or a beauty treatment?
I’m completely addicted to our Arts Centre neighbours Dee Dee Thai Massage. Vicky who runs the business is very cool and a talented masseuse.
Best kept shopping secret?
I really like shopping for plants at a little kiosk in The Botanic Gardens. It’s just a small stand with an honesty box (near the children’s playground). You can often find a nice mix of unusual plants.
Favourite clothing store that never lets you down?
I have a small waist and a big bum and I’ve found Kowtow pants make it work. Money constraints aside, if I could shop at NG Boutique for all my clothes I’d be a very happy (and fashionable) woman. There’s plenty of good op shopping in Christchurch which is always fun.
Where do you go for a workout?
I’ve started playing very casual basketball with friends at Rauora Park. I like playing tennis in Hagley Park near the lake and I walk my dog every day either in Hagley Park, by the Ōtākaro Avon River, or New Brighton beach.
Where do you go when you’re after local art or design?
The National is an excellent gallery for contemporary objects and jewellery. There is currently a ring on display by Karl Fritch that I cannot afford but cannot stop thinking about.
If someone was visiting your neighbourhood/city for the first time, what’s the one place you would recommend they visit?
I often find myself saying ‘you have to visit the Margaret Mary playground’, even to adults with no children. It’s such a fun and successful playground design with interesting visual references like Māori architecture, urban planning and of course Margaret Mahy’s writing.
Anything - or anywhere - you’d like to add?
If you come to Christchurch, I recommend hiring a bike and following the river. Visit the mushroom farm in the Richmond Community Gardens and explore the crazy green sprawl of the pre earthquake home gardens, now known as the red zone, which are becoming New Zealand’s largest city park.