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Plenty

Glenn Smith talks radio and Kay Boreham interviews artist Jamie Boynton, we meet the multi-talented Mr Anthony Clyde, Plenty dwells on an affair to remember in Kawerau, Lonnie Berg juggles her beverages, and we talk to two – yes, two! – Sam Clarks.

culture :: media :: art :: food

FR E E M A GA Z IN E

ISSUE 02 plenty.co.nz


MAY/2016

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Plenty is

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We are celebrating pioneers; pioneers in everything from art, achievement and broadcasting, to alternative transport, business, botany and damn good coffee. Because, let’s face it, those are all very important things, and while we often think that important things happen somewhere else, in reality we’re doing great stuff right now and right here.

We’ve had some fantastic feedback from our first issue, and we’d like to thank everyone who emailed in, liked us, commented, shared and stopped us in the street. We’d also like to thank all our contributors for helping us find these pioneers, tell their stories and make Plenty what it is. You know who you are, and everyone else can check out their bylines in the pages that follow and see who they are on our website. You can also go there to see some extra pics, some extra text, and in the coming weeks and months a whole bunch of extra stuff we think you’ll like. But in the meantime, turn the page and let’s get started.

plenty.co.nz

facebook.com/plentyNZ

ANDY TAYLOR info@plenty.co.nz FRAN CACACE sales@plenty.co.nz SARAH TRAVERS design@plenty.co.nz

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INTERVIEW LONNIE BERG PHOTOGRAPHY ANDY TAYLOR

SOMETHING IN THE

WATER They say many people remember their first taste of Antipodes sparkling water. This rings true because I’m one of them. It was at a friend’s house in Auckland three or four years ago. She showed me the clear glass bottle, like a mini-version of the flagon my father used to buy his sherry in, but sexier, and poured me a drink, saying this was her friend Simon’s bottled-water company. I took a sip and slipped away for a moment as thousands of tiny crystal bubbles exploded in my mouth and danced to my brain. ”Wow,” I thought. I wanted more. Later, when I moved to Whakatāne, I was amazed to discover that Antipodes is bottled from a deep aquifer here in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, and hardly anyone else here knew that either. So this interview is a chance to put Antipodes on the table, metaphorically and literally. I met Antipodes founder Simon Woolley and general manager Deb McLaughlin at the restored farmhouse next to the bottling plant at the end of Lewis Road, mere minutes from Edgecumbe. Simon greets me with a hug. Need I say more? Well, yes, I’d better, because Plenty’s editor has asked for a whole article, but you get my drift. Simon and Deb are charming, articulate, smart, worldly and passionately committed to producing world-class pure water in an environmentally conscious way.

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In a world where ‘passionate’ is so overused that it’s almost meaningless, I will go a step further and call them nearzealots, albeit very cool ones. Simon’s journey to become one of New Zealand’s foremost experts in bottled water started in the mid ‘70s, when he worked as a waiter for Tony Astle at Auckland’s Antoine’s. He then went on to set up a number of excellent establishments including the Exchange Tavern in Parnell Road, which was the first pub to serve bistro food, sometimes to the puzzlement of the clientele. Eventually Simon stopped trying to explain salmon mousse or duck liver pate and just gave it to people. Needless to say the food sold, the Exchange prospered and Auckland and the rest of the country was on the slow road to cuisine gastronomique. Simon then purchased the Empire and became the youngest publican in NZ. From there followed a period of travelling from a London base. He lived in New York and Mexico for many years and, returning to NZ in 1989, he opened the Metropole with friends and, with Ray McVinnie as chef, it was a roaring success day and night for seven years. Two years after starting Metropole, Simon stopped drinking. It was a lifestyle change that may have unconsciously led to the birth of Antipodes. In Metropole, Simon also met the future co-founders of Antipodes, advertising gurus Kim Thorpe, Howard Grieve and Peter Cullinane. When Simon had returned to NZ he’d discovered the local dining scene had improved and evolved dramatically and tourism was now a serious economic player, with 100% Pure already carved into our national psyche, and yet something was missing. “Tourism had become one of our biggest industries” he says. “People wanted New Zealand food and wine, and yet we were serving them European bottled water. It seemed crazy. We wouldn’t serve them English lamb so why weren’t we serving pure New Zealand water?”

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“As a fussy non-drinker I only drank bottled water but I found the European waters too mineralised for my palate. I’d done research on water in Mexico and, in my ignorance, I thought ‘Hey, New Zealand is full of great water, this’ll be a cinch’, so I went to my advertising friends and asked for help on how to get New Zealand bottled water into restaurants.” The friends said they’d do it themselves, so the search was on for the best water in NZ. Simon spent a year investigating more than 100 sites and visited 30, but only nine were safe to drink from and Simon’s bar was high.

Deb McLaughlin, Antipodes’ General Manager

“COMING DOWN HERE, IT’S NOT LIKE HAVING STAFF, IT’S LIKE HAVING A FAMILY.”

Simon Wolley, Antipodes Founder

“I had two main criteria: it had to be - and look - pure, and have subtle minerality so that it did not affect the palate and the flavour of fine food and wine, and also not so mineralised that it was cloudy.” Simon was also firm in the belief that the water shouldn’t compete with food and wine, the main actors on the dining stage. Likewise the bottle was specially designed to disappear on a table but look good enough to be in the world’s best restaurants. Ironically, many diners ask to take the bottle home with them. I’m one of them. One thing he discovered on his journey was that few people knew much about bottled water in NZ, although he has high praise for Jim and Don Robertson of Otakiri Springs and John McDonalds of NZ Nature, who were generous with their time and knowledge. When Simon was down to the last three water sources he couldn’t make a final choice, so he asked his good friend and expert winemaker Michael Brajkovich of Kumeu River for help. Brajkovich was decisive and in 2003 the Antipodes Water Company was born on a humble block of land on the Rangitāiki Plains where the bore is 327m deep - the same height as the Sky Tower. But enough of Simon. Let’s bring in Deb McLaughlin, who, for most of this interview, has been plying us with lovely things to eat and drink while cooking dinner and offering enthusiastic anecdotes about Antipodes’ success overseas and the dedication and heart of the local staff. It was Deb who said that people remember their first taste of Antipodes and who explained why. It is because of this: at a sales event at Noosa’s exclusive Sails Restaurant, owner Lyndon Simmons hosted Deb and two others for lunch - an unusual event in itself. He was already sold on Antipodes and claimed it had the same bead, i.e. the bubbles in a glass of champagne as Salon Champagne, one of the best and most expensive champagnes in the world. Upon learning Deb had never tasted Salon, he promptly called out for a bottle. It was one of only two Salon bottles in his cellar - one of the largest wine collections in Australia. P L E N T Y. C O . N Z // M AY 2 0 1 6

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Where it all begins; the spring head, from where Antipodes is drawn, is housed in a simple, single room outbuilding that is a masterpiece of understatement.

These sorts of experiences are common in the exalted world of fine dining and Antipodes; Deb is off to the launch of Antipodes in New York in a few weeks. Antipodes’ first New York customer is the Musket Room, where owner/chef Kiwi Matt Lambert received a highly coveted Michelin star just four months after opening. I’m starting to feel a tad intimidated at this point, and the thin veneer of worldliness I thought I possessed was rubbing off like spray tan when Simon and Deb turn the discussion to the local staff here at Antipodes. Deb says the small team is so hardworking and proud to produce something world-class, and they are vitally interested in every sale. Inside the factory, walls are proudly pinned with reviews of Antipodes’ successes around the globe.

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The business end; everything from bottling to packaging is carried out in a custom built facility to maintain purity.

“water is such a precious resource and we treat it with respect” “Coming down here, it’s not like having staff, it’s like having a family.” As a case in point, the reason both Simon and Deb are back in the Bay at the moment is to attend the graduation of the office administrator, Stacy Hall, a full time working mum who with the support of Antipodes has attained a Diploma of Business Studies from the Waiariki Institute of Technology. Most of the company is attending. Antipodes is the world’s only carbon zero water company, and carbon neutral to any table in the world. The company was asked to speak Copenhagen conference on climate change in 2009 because it was leading the way in environmentally sustainable bottled water. A remarkable accolade for a tiny New Zealand company from the Bay. “Water is such a precious resource and we treat it with respect,” says Deb “We only ship in full containers, we only bottle to order and we don’t take anything from the source that we don’t need.” Like I said, these folk are near-zealots, albeit very cool ones. P L E N T Y. C O . N Z // M AY 2 0 1 6

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ONE IN A

In December 1960 the much-loved Morris Minor became the first British car to sell one million units, and to commemorate the occasion 350 two-door saloons were produced in distinctive lilac livery and with a white interior. Only 22 are known to survive today, and not many of them can be as immaculate as the one owned by Whakatāne local John Twaddle. Imported from the UK and supposedly in concours condition, the car in fact needed a full restoration, including a new floor, extensive paint and panel work and refurbishment of the interior.

MILLION

Now back in better than new condition, the Million joins John’s other Morris, the bright green 1000 known to many in Whakatāne, though it is expected the Million will not be pressed in to daily driving requirements due to its rarity. Perhaps not surprisingly, there are considerable similarities between John Twaddle’s work and how he spends his free time. Restoring rare classic cars and dentistry both require a fairly keen eye for detail, a methodical approach and being absolutely sure to follow best practices. “This year the car has been on display at the Ellerslie Car Show,” John says, “and at the recent Morris Minor Convention in Timaru, where it won the prize for the ‘Best Two Door Morris Minor in New Zealand’, as well as the ‘People’s Choice’ award - a fitting reward for the effort that has been made by a whole range of local support services and craftsmen.”

Make sure your smile is one in a million with the professionals at Twaddle Dental. For regular checkups, cosmetic work or for that problem that has been bothering you, give them a call today.

EAST BAY DENTAL CENTRE Phone: 07 308 5279 9 Simpkins St, Whakatāne


Photo courtesy Marathon Photos

FIRST ONE IN WORDS LEE GREGORY PHOTOGRAPHY ANDY TAYLOR

SAMCLARK tucks a big bag of cacao nibs under his arm at Soul Organics and tells me the snack keeps him from eating chocolate. “They’re full of antioxidants” he says. “Here, try some.” My first taste of this unheard-of treat leaves me wanting more but, when I ask a staff member for some, I’m told they’re like gold and there are none left. Only Sam – whose multisport adventures Soul Organics sponsors – gets the special treatment. The staff’s obvious respect for him isn’t surprising given Sam’s achievements and bright future. Having bagged the 2016 Coast to Coast Longest Day winner’s title, he’s just jetted off to China for a stage-racing event, and is then bound for Europe for a couple of months. In China, the professional multisport athlete will compete in a four-day stage event, racing for 3-8 hours a day. He’ll then base himself in Gothenburg, Sweden, and compete in long-distance races around Europe - the Ironman UK, Ironman Holland and European Multisport Championships among them. ‘Multisport over there is very strong,” he says. P L E N T Y. C O . N Z // M AY 2 0 1 6

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Eastern Bay locals will be familiar with Sam’s name. The son of Bill Clark, himself a well-known identity and Coast to Coast finisher, Sam started multisport at age eight when he did his first triathlon, later cutting his teeth on local events such as Kawerau’s King of the Mountain. He says these events helped get him where he is now; every bit of experience has helped. The Eastern Bay, he says, has plenty of supportive clubs geared towards helping people get out there and succeed, and he advises anyone thinking of taking up multisport to get out and give it a go. Today the three-times Motū Challenge winner has a string of athletic accolades to his name and competes professionally with the Swedish Thule adventure racing team. He trains under Rob Dallimore from Foot Traffic in Auckland, following a rigorous schedule that involves training for 6-8 hours a day in peak season or in the leadup to events. He’s never not training or competing.

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Photo courtesy Marathon Photos

There’s more to Sam than multisport, though. The Soul Organics staff greeted him enthusiastically when he arrived; he’s a popular guy. He’s quietly spoken and judging by posts and replies to friends’ comments on the Sam Clark Multisport Facebook page, very funny. He’s studying towards a certificate in business at Waiariki – good for a bit of mental stimulation, he says – and reads a lot. Asked what he’s currently reading, he started to answer, but cuts himself off. “No, don’t include that, people will think it’s weird.” But he does admit to liking biographies. “It’s a good way of finding out other people’s perspectives.”

“ONLY THOSE WHO KNOW ME WELL CAN ACTUALLY APPRECIATE JUST HOW LONG AND HOW MUCH I ACTUALLY WANTED THIS”

He reads a lot about food and nutrition, too. Diet is a vital component of any training programme and he plays around a lot with food. He also follows advice from “really qualified people”. Balancing his diet with all the travel can be tough – he says last time he was in Sweden he got carried away sampling local bakery treats and put on a lot of weight – but the Swedes are very health-conscious and it’s easy to eat well over there. P L E N T Y. C O . N Z // M AY 2 0 1 6

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Speaking of food, here’s something you may not have known about Sam: he likes pickled herring, something they eat a lot of in Sweden. “It tastes a lot better than it sounds.” Another thing: he loves to sing. A video clip of Sam singing Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger while training was posted on his Facebook page earlier this year and was picked up by national media. He has a good voice and used to be involved in local theatre. He performed in All Shook Up in 2010, among other shows. He admits the interest is still there; if only he had the time. Music is still a big part of his life though. It plays a huge part in his events. “It helps you keep the rhythm when you’re kayaking.” We can’t tell you what he listens to, though, because he wouldn’t tell us. Travel’s a big part of his life too. “My sporting journey has taken me to a lot of places and I’m still exploring. But Gothenburg is my favourite place so far.” Sweden is, he says, a very active place. “I think they know the summer will end so everyone’s out there trying to make the most of it.”

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Sam’s certainly made the most of this summer in New Zealand. His Facebook page is littered with photos of kayaking and various other adventures, and his Coast to Coast victory in February was closely followed by an Ironman. Ironman events, he says, aren’t as tough as one might think. “An ironman is really a marathon. You just have to swim and bike to the start line.” On winning the Coast to Coast Longest Day, Sam says he felt a huge sense of relief. “Only those who know me well can actually appreciate just how long and how much I actually wanted this,” he told media afterwards. “It’s quite overwhelming to finally tick that box and finally be able to call myself a Coast to Coast champion. Everyone hurts out there and I was certainly hurting on a number of occasions.” I wonder what kept him going. “You know eventually the day will be over. It’s only a day,” he says. He makes it sounds so easy. He’s a master of the understatement.


ADMYOR Let us take the worry out of your event, by putting your catering needs in our safe hands. One size does not fit all and we enjoy finding the right fit for you. Whether it is a family event or a corporate function, a morning tea or a lunch meeting, we have something to suit all tastes and every budget. Give us a call and have a chat with Amy or Rod, we are here to help.

CATERING Great service, great quality, great taste. The perfect recipe for all great events. Big or small we have options to suit all. Let us make your event an event to admire.

| Whakatane | 07 308 8337 | whakatane-online.co.nz/admyor-cafe facebook.com/admyorcafe


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UILHEM SALVY and Chloé Lagneaux, owners of L’Epicerie Café, have a great How I Met Your Mother story to tell their 17-month-old Kiwi daughter Alice when she gets older. Sitting in their home, drinking beer and eating chocolate brownies, Guilhem and Chloé tell their story like lovers do; finishing each other’s sentences and laughing now at the hard times back then. It must be said that Chloé’s start in New Zealand was not auspicious. Arriving on an Air Singapore flight in 2007 her luggage was lost and none of it was ever recovered. However, two weeks later she found herself on a bunny slope at Whakapapa. Chloé was skiing with some friends, as was Guilhem. That evening they started chatting over a few glasses of wine and discovered they were from the same town and had gone to the same high school and even had the same teachers; two years apart.

They started dating. Chloé was working as an au pair in One Tree Hill. Guilhem had five different jobs, all in hospitality so we can imagine life was fairly hectic. After two and a half years of this, Guilhem started a restaurant in Queenstown just as Chloé needed to return to France to finish her degree. INTERVIEW LONNIE BERG PHOTOGRAPHY ANDY TAYLOR

“It was a big decision. Career versus love,” he says, sounding more than ever like Gérard Depardieu. “I chose love”. So the pair returned to France, which turned out to be something of a culture shock. “Being back in your own country and not feeling at home or in the right place was a very strange experience,” says Chloé. “France is a very old country, it’s very structured and formal and we had grown used to the casual friendliness of New Zealanders.”

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“It took us three months just to pronounce it properly!” they say in sync. The town was Coonabarabran. I see their point. But when immigration finally conceded that these fine people are exactly the kind the country badly needs, they were back in the Bay tout suite. “Whakatāne was the plan from the beginning,” says Guilhem. “We always wanted to settle here.” The Citroen H food truck arrived a few months later and so began a long and costly journey to get it on the road and earning its keep. In the meantime, in order to keep body and soul together, they started going to the Ōhope market selling pizza, baked treats and dried goods and people began asking where their shop was. Cafe culture: left to right, baby Alice, Chloé, Guilhem and Sam

“FRANCE IS A VERY OLD COUNTRY, IT’S VERY STRUCTURED AND FORMAL AND WE HAD GROWN USED TO THE CASUAL FRIENDLINESS OF NEW ZEALANDERS.”

Turns out they were natural born-again Kiwis. Or so they thought. A year-and-a-half later, after Chloé finished a double degree in Business Administration they were back in the land of the long white cloud ready to get on with their dream of bringing a food truck into Whakatāne and serving delicious French food to all of us. But they hadn’t reckoned on dealing with an Immigration Department that didn’t seem to want them as much as they wanted us. After 10 months the couple were forced to decamp to Australia where they ended up picking apples in the middle of nowhere (is there anywhere in rural Australia that’s not the middle of nowhere?), in 40 degree heat to earn money to keep up the fight to return to New Zealand.

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With no end in sight to the saga of the Citroen, they opened L’Epicerie Café on The Strand East in 2011. Now they employ six staff and as I mentioned at the start of this story, have made their own little Kiwi, Alice, as well. What next for this hard working couple? More work. More coffee. More love. More babies. More staff and maybe another café. Take that, immigration!


Apteryx Coffee The name was inspired by Whakatāne’s least known world class status and the product was inspired by devout coffee lovers. And now from the people who brought us the town’s first authentic French café, comes Apteryx Coffee – Air roasted in the Kiwi capital of the world. Apteryx, in case you haven’t guessed, is the Latin name of our beloved Little Spotted Kiwi and the new company is the dream child of Guilhem Salvy of L’Epicerie Café and designer cum barista Sam Clark. Both Guilhem and Sam were surprised to learn that Whakatāne is the Kiwi capital of the world and they want to help the town celebrate an under-sung achievement. “We only ever hear about the sunshine and the beach. We want to help put Kiwis on the map to encourage more people to come to Whakatāne,” says Guilhem. The single origin beans are air roasted in the converted L’Epicerie Citroen H Food Truck. This is the only Fluid Bed Roaster of its kind in Whakatāne and Sam assures me the result is a cleaner tasting coffee as the skin of the beans flies off during the process - think of the Lotto ball machine – so there’s less smokiness and chaff in the finished product.

Apteryx Coffee is sold at L’Epicerie Café (73 The Strand, Whakatane) and will soon be available at local markets. P L E N T Y. C O . N Z // M AY 2 0 1 6

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Everything under the sun Native ConnectionNZ

We don’t just think Whakatāne is a great place to live, we also think it’s a great place to do business. To prove it, we’re highlighting three new businesses that are making the most of what Whakatāne has to offer.

Awakeri Rail ON TRACK FOR ADVENTURE The newly-established Awakeri Rail Adventures has already carried nearly 1400 passengers and is looking to expand operations with several new ventures in the coming year. Owner/operators Paul and Eve Francis spent 14 months establishing the business, which carries visitors through the rolling Awakeri countryside in converted golf carts on the disused Awakeri/Tāneatua railway line.

Paul has worked as an engine driver and was inspired by his involvement in a previous rail adventure. He came up with the idea after Googling ‘Abandoned rail lines New Zealand’ and becoming intrigued with the history of the track. After months of backbreaking work clearing the lines, Paul says their passion (or insanity) has got them to the fun stage. They regularly welcome visitors from around the Bay of Plenty and have had customers from as far afield as the US, UK, Germany, Japan, and Australia. “We’re hoping to start regular tours for cruise ships visiting the Port of Tauranga next summer,” Paul says.

“We take our customers through this spectacular bush as part of the rail journey, so we’re working with DoC to eradicate pests in an effort to increase bird life in the Reserve.” Other plans include an eel walk, where visitors can feed the slippery critters, and the creation of a replica of the Whakatāne West Railway station. “If anyone has any images or photographs of the old station, I’d love to hear from them,” says Paul. In the meantime, the couple have plenty to keep them busy. “We’re really excited about our partnership with the Department of Conservation and White Pine Bush Reserve,” he says. “We take our customers through this spectacular bush as part of the rail journey, so we’re working with DoC to eradicate pests in an effort to increase bird life in the Reserve.” The company currently offers three tour options. The first is an ‘Express Run’ lasting approximately two hours where you will drive over 18 km of track, with one stop en route. The second option is the ‘Bush Walk /Picnic Run’ which will take approximately three hours and includes a guided bush walk, a relaxing trackside picnic and other activities, as well as the 18 km track. Finally, there is the ‘Bush Walk Run’ where you will travel 12 km of track and enjoy a guided bush walk in about 1.5 hours.

Paul and Eve Francis at Awakeri Station

Find out more about Awakeri Rail Adventures whakatane.com/awakeri-rail-adventures


WHAKATĀNE A Great Place to Grow a Business Based just out of Whakatāne, New Zealand Manuka Group is gaining worldwide fame for its high quality and highly-innovative Manuka honey and oil products. Despite the phenomenal growth of one of our ‘quiet achievers’, this exciting international business is dedicated to remaining in our region. NZ Manuka Group CEO, Karl Gradon, has figures to back that up. “In the past year alone our top line has almost doubled and we are now looking to employ 29 new staff by 2017 to support this growth.”

“Whakatāne and the Eastern Bay have a lovely feel, a vibrant culture, and great weather and scenery.” Manuka has become the new buzz-word in the New Zealand economy. The fact that we have such an important company in this industry located right here on our doorstep is a real indication of the value and opportunities available in our region. Newly appointed Group Manager Sales and Marketing, Robin Deal who has recently moved to the area, says NZ Manuka Group is an exciting company in a great industry based in a fantastic location. “Whakatāne and the Eastern Bay have a lovely feel, a vibrant culture, and great weather and scenery.”

Group General Manager Operations and Logistics, NZ Manuka Group, Robin Jay says, “We’ve recently invested in a new honey extraction plant, described by foreign customers as ‘the best in New Zealand’,” he explains. “Our Stage 1 building is capable of handling and processing up to 30,000 hives per year, while our Stage 2 building is expected to add a further 1300m2 to our operations base in Ōpōtiki.” NZ Manuka Group continues to demonstrate its commitment to our region through its investment in people, assets and systems. Find out more about New Zealand Manuka at nzmanukagroup.com

As a harvester, processor and supplier of Manuka honey and oil, NZ Manuka Group ensures the quality and authenticity of all its products through the Manuka Originz™ traceability programme (www.manukaoriginz.com). The company is also dedicated to partnering with and employing local people, as well as stewardship of the natural resources from where it draws its products.

whakatane.com

Karl Gradon - Chief Executive Officer of New Zealand Manuka Group


NEW EVENT IN

Tyrone Campbell with the NZ Junior Rugby League Best and Fairest Award

League of its own A new rugby league event for the Whakatāne District will see young people challenging themselves and absorbing the local culture. Tyrone Campbell, Director of Global Games, has just relocated with his family from Auckland to Matatā, and his sports event company has come with him. The company’s main focus is to promote sportsmanship and playing for enjoyment and the love of the game. Mr Campbell says Global Games aims to give younger, grassroots players an opportunity to travel and experience playing in larger events. “Global Games currently organises some of New Zealand’s largest junior sporting events in locations such as Queenstown, Taupō and Auckland,” he says. “We’ve hosted more than 1000 sports teams from across New Zealand and from as far as France and South Africa.” The new league event, which is set to take place in September, has already been endorsed by local player Benji Marshall and is expected to attract teams from across the Tasman. It will also be unique in that many teams will be hosted on local marae and will be introduced to various aspects of Māori culture during their stay. The connection between the event and local Māori culture will be celebrated in all aspects of the tournament, with local artist and carver Takutaimoana Harawira being commissioned to develop the festival logo and carve the trophies.

Tell us about your new business! CONTACT:

Mr Campbell says about 90% of grassroots sports kids never get the chance to play in events such as this. “We’re opening the door to those young players who will be the heart and soul of sports clubs across the country for generations to come,” Mr Campbell says. Tyrone with the newest addition to his family

“I’m sure the teams visiting will fall in love with the region, as we did the very first time we visited, so much so we have moved here with our young family.” “We’re truly privileged to offer this opportunity to such young people - for many, it will be their first trip out of their respective regions. The development and growth from such a trip can only be positive,” he says. “I’m sure the teams visiting will fall in love with the region, as we did the very first time we visited, so much so we have moved here with our young family. There is a real energy around here that pulled us in, and we’re looking forward to being a part of it!”

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The Talented Mr Clyde WORDS // PHOTOGRAPHY ANDY TAYLOR

Fifteen minutes out of ĹŒhope, heading east, you turn off onto a gravel road, pass some run down stockyards and ramshackle sheds, and there you are - the home of the future of two-wheeled transport. The not so secret location belongs to Anthony Clyde and family, and it is from here that the multi-talented Mr Clyde is changing the way people get from A to B and helping put New Zealand on the map for alternative transport.

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Together with partner Darryl Neal he is instrumental in several companies that are bringing electric bikes to a much wider audience, whether as commuter transport - under the brand Smartmotion - or farm work horses carrying the UBCO name. If the suitably Thunderbirds location seems an unlikely spot for such an undertaking, then Anthony seems an unlikely figure to be leading it. Striding across the grass in jandals and shades, with an outstretched hand and welcoming grin, he looks more like an off-duty musician or reclusive writer than an engineering boffin. But that may be because he was – and still is – a musician and writer, as well as an artist and film maker, and the revolution springing out from this little piece of the Bay of Plenty is not about hi-tech research labs and computer modeling, its about creativity scribbled on scraps of paper and hewn by hand in the shed. And even a cursory wander around the grounds will show that this is a very creative environment. An outbuilding houses a homemade studio and performance space, while a container converted into an office is also home

to product sketches, equipment and partner Tamzin’s artwork. Currently represented by three galleries in Ōhope and Auckland, she is rightly undaunted by Anthony’s numerous skills, as in addition to her success as an artist she is – as she points out – a much better swimmer than him. So there. Anthony started off studying product development technology at University, but the real world beckoned and he dropped out after a year and a half and did the Kiwi OE thing to India where he started a jewellery company that kept him occupied for nearly a decade. Living back in New Zealand in an ecovillage in Kaiwaka he took up art, wrote a novel and created the award-winning short film Water that went all the way to the Sundance Film Festival. And then, in 2006 he had a dream. Literally. “Yeah, I had this dream about building an ‘ebike’ and when I woke up I thought this was such a cool idea, and of course immediately went online and searched it and saw there were millions of hits and realized that it had been done! But I kept looking through

Photos courtesy of electricbikes.co.nz

Photos courtesy of electricbikes.co.nz

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Photos courtesy of electricbikes.co.nz

and saw that it hadn’t been done in New Zealand.” Having a bit of a domain name purchasing addiction – a relatively harmless addiction as addictions go – he scooped up www. electricbikes.co.nz and suddenly things started evolving pretty quickly. “I started out importing bikes and then got involved in helping to improve those bikes, and that is how I made a lot of connections that have developed into long term friendships.”

A family affair - Anthony and Tamzin with daughters Neva and Sophie.

“I’d designed a conversion kit that allowed you to convert a normal bike into an electric one with a dock and battery pack. I shaped it up out of a couple of bits of 4x4 on a bench saw – which looking back was really dangerous! That was my first presentation to those suppliers and how I got involved in the development side, and though that never really went anywhere it made me realise I wanted to do my own brand. A good friend over in China who’d worked in the industry got together with me and we started out using generic components and adding a drive system. And that was how Smartmotion was born in 2012.”

Anthony Clyde at home in the backyard astride a utility bike prototype.

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Photos courtesy of electricbikes.co.nz


Since then Anthony has steadily stepped back from the importing side of the business and together with business partner Neal has been focusing on what they thought was most needed, an electric semi-cargo utility bike. “We had all the ideas scribbled on bits of paper and we wanted to get it to Mystery Creek, but I thought Mystery Creek was in October when it is in July – so we had six weeks to build this thing! It was like some bizarre reality show, racing to get it built and heat tempered in a giant oven, but we did it and ended up winning two of the three main awards.” Though still in startup phase, the company has attracted immense attention and this has given them the resources to develop new markets – as well as create new ones. “Smartmotion is all about the bicycle as transport, as opposed to the bicycle as sport,” Anthony says. “Places like Europe and Japan embrace the bicycle as transport, and we used to here in New Zealand but we lost that about 30-40 years ago. In places like Auckland where traffic is going to be diabolical for 20 years, electric bikes can be a real solution.”

The UBCO 2X2 electric motorbike is a little different. “We could see that electric motors have high torque and solid acceleration and that made them ideal for dairy farmers and agricultural and horticultural applications. We’ll also be producing a road legal version, and we think that will be the one that really takes off.” Like electric cars, electrically powered bikes seem to be finally finding traction as their technology finally finds favour with consumers. Sales have leapt in New Zealand in the last 12 months, and it seems only a matter of time before they find they have shifted from a niche market to mainstream acceptance. On a sunny day in the outskirts of Ōhope watching Anthony Clyde zip silently around his backyard on an electric bike, one can only wonder why it took us so long.

B E S PO K E F R A M I N G & O R I G I N A L A R T M O N DAY TO F R I DAY 10A M – 4 PM (O R BY A PP O I N TM E N T ) 2 D A PPE N Z E L L D R I V E , W H A K ATA N E PH O N E 07 3 07 9 3 0 2 O R 0 21 24 4 6 0 0 4


The Time

Machine HUKUTAIA DOMAIN // EASTERN BAY OF PLENTY WORDS ANDY TAYLOR PHOTOGRAPHY SETH BELL

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enemies. Naturally, the tree and its surrounds were highly tapu, and any breach of that tapu was an affront to the tribe and punishable by death.

It has been described as the most botanically important five acres of land in New Zealand and the finest collection of indigenous flora in the country. It is home to species of plants now extinct in their natural habitats, as well as possibly the oldest puriri tree in the world. It is the Hukutaia Domain in Opotiki.

The area that would become the Domain – like much of the surrounding land – was confiscated by the Crown following the New Zealand Wars, and in 1918 the government bought the Woodlands Estate of 2000 acres, which was owned by a Mr Hutchison of Gisborne, for a rehabilitation settlement for servicemen returning from the Great War. In 1913, while the area was being charted, the mighty Tatetakerau was ‘rediscovered’ and there were immediate calls for it to be preserved. In light of the history surrounding the tree and the desire for a local reserve, the area was taken over by the-then Borough Council and, after various machinations, it was declared a public domain in 1926.

The story of Hukutaia Domain begins in 1918, but the area’s importance to the Upokorehe hapū of Whakatōhea stretches farther back in memory. Taketakerau, a massive puriri tree believed to be more than 2000-years-old, has been revered and used in burial customs for generations. The tree stands over 20m high and its trunk is equally impressive, but what was stored in that trunk is more important. Here, in a hollow at the base, distinguished members of the hapū had their remains interred after death so they would be hidden and safe from the desecration of

The first Domain Board, comprising mostly returned servicemen, was elected that same year and they set about many enthusiastic and energetic improvements. But it was not until 1933 that the domain found its real guiding light when Norman Potts, a well-known amateur botanist formerly of Christchurch - and founder of the Ōpōtiki law practice Potts and Hodgson - was elected board chairman and set about turning the domain into the finest collection of indigenous flora in the country. In the years that followed he

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Taketakerau, the sacred puriri, believed to be more than 2000-years-old.

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travelled extensively and repeatedly throughout New Zealand, gathering hundreds of native species and transplanting them into Hukutaia. He often worked with professional botanists, corresponded with many others and made a wealth of seed stock and knowledge available to public gardens and societies around New Zealand. Three plants bear his name and, in 1944, he was awarded the Loder Cup for his work in the protection and cultivation of native plants.

NATURALLY, THE TREE AND ITS SURROUNDS WERE HIGHLY TAPU, AND ANY BREACH OF THAT TAPU WAS AN AFFRONT TO THE TRIBE AND PUNISHABLE BY DEATH.

Tucked away on the outskirts of Ōpōtiki, the domain is reached via a short drive through rolling Eastern Bay dairy country. Turning off the road and into a single-lane access way, you leave the farms and the 21st century behind and enter a dark, almost primordial stand of bush that swamps the senses with an invigorating blast of ozone and an eerie sense of isolation. You are instantly struck by what the land looked like centuries ago, and of your own insignificance in it. Puriri, tawa and pukatea abound, and the tracks are surrounded by delicate puriri flowers interspersed with bright pink berries and carpets of parataniwha, the ‘home of Taniwha”. Hopefully you won’t see a taniwha, but a startled weka scuttling across your track or flitting through your peripheral vision is enough to make you jump if you are alone in the eternal twilight of this dense bush. For anyone interested in New Zealand botany, the domain is a sheer delight, with rare and unusual species around every corner. Tecomathe speciosa from the Three Kings Islands, a tree daisy - Olearia pachyhylla – endemic to Opape near Ōpōtiki, and Xeronema callistenon from the Poor Knights Islands to name a few. But even for those who can’t tell a kauri from a gum tree, the domain offers a rare and very real glimpse back in time, a chance to see how the land we live upon looked before it was cleared and set to work and populated with the colours and shapes that made the settlers feel more at home. Norman Potts died in 1970, but his work lives on to this day. Current kaitiaki are the Hukutaia Domain Care Group, made up of enthusiastic volunteers, established in 2007 by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council as part of a network of environmental groups in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. The group has about 18 active members and works closely with the Ōpōtiki District and Bay of Plenty Regional Councils, Upokorehe and the Ōpōtiki College cadets. It looks after the botanical collection and maintains the tracks, which includes constructing boardwalks, carrying out weed and pest control, upgrading signage and many other tasks. In addition, there has been a notable increase in birdlife and vegetation now that the rodent population is down to a lower level. While people remain who share Norman Potts’ passion, the Hukutaia Domain will live on for generations, continuing to educate and mesmerise, offering a rare glimpse of the range and diversity of the natural flora of New Zealand, as well as a trip back in time to a vision of how this land looked so long ago.

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“Virtual Waka” at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, which he completed during his residency there in 2014.


Jamie Boynton Full Circle Chances are you may be familiar with the artist Jamie Boynton’s work and not realise it. You probably know that he’s responsible for the sleek, soaring ‘Manu’ sculpture that commands the eye as you drive past Whakatāne’s Awanuiarangi;and or that TeWhare WhareWananaga Wānanga ooAwanuiarangi; that his his multi-panel etched glass ‘Mauri Ora” was commissioned as the opening exhibition in the Sheaff Family Gallery at Te kōputu a te whanga a Toi.

WORDS KAY BOREHAM PHOTOGRAPHY ANDY TAYLOR

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unshinAeS

S

CANV

po The Great Rotary Art Ex

JAMIE BOYNTON

is among over 50 artists who are supporting the combined Rotary Clubs of Whakatāne charity art exhibition – Sunshine and Canvas. Running from 30 June till 9 July the event is being held at Te Whare Taumata, Wairere Street, Whakatāne, and features a multi-media art exhibition, working artists, music, children’s art classes, and a Tried and Treasured Art Bazaar.

1 2

3

JUNE - JULY 2016 4

Y

OU MAY NOT KNOW THAT the installation above the café in Pak ‘n Save Kopeopeo is his; or that ‘Waka Rama’ the light-waka inside the recently refurbished Eastbay REAP is ‘a Boynton’. His creativity will soon be on supermarket shelves too, and flying out via a new website; be aware Jamie remains one to watch. Jamie exists between multiple levels of worlds: Te Ao Māori/ Pākehā; business and art; city and provincial. He’s a rare specimen who truly walks in all. Jamie and Tina returned home in the early 2000s. (You can’t talk about Jamie without Tina - one of the countless stunning daughters of Muriwai; Jamie’s remarkable wife, mother of their beautiful girls Aroha and Aaria, business manager and true partner in life and creativity.)

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our unique New Zealand identity through melding our Māori traditions and history with the best of our colonial inheritance,” Jamie says.

They had left the Wellington corporate world, and Jamie had ideas of working remotely at his established trade of graphic design while exploring the insistent call to make fine art. Even here in the story, it’s interesting that the couple chose Waiotahe/Kutarere to set up house; not entirely Ōpōtiki, not Whakatāne. Sixteen years later, Jamie describes himself as an ‘occupant of the Eastern Bay’; fundamentally linked to his Ngāti Awa, Tūhoe and Whakatōhea tupuna - to Mataatua – but very much a regional citizen. “It’s a great time to be here; on the edge of another wave of Māori renaissance. It’s a time of reaffirming

“Much of my inspiration comes from straddling that bridge between Māori and Pākehā where I’m consistently looking for symbols that speak to both cultures, which in fact become universal messages of peace, love and harmony.” This ability to see a broader cultural context has been recognised by leading New Zealand architectural practice Jasmax with whom Jamie is working to brand its new collective of Māori architects and designers. “This is a really exciting move by Jasmax to create a core of practitioners to respond to the call for the inclusion of cultural values into all aspects of our built environment.”


Jamie’s relationship with Jasmax also saw him exhibit in the foyer of its Auckland office in 2015. Jamie is also working with Miraka, a consortium of Māori business interests in the dairy sector, branding a new campaign, coming to a supermarket near you, in the near future. Making his work more affordable and accessible is the goal of a new range of products under Jamie and Tina’s BoyntonArt creative business partnership. “We’ve been searching for the ideal web platform to efficiently manage ordering, handling and delivery and now we’ve found it. People can go to boyntonart.com for a range of t-shirts and accessories and soon there will be cards, open edition prints and an extended clothing line.” The website also stocks wall-mounted hei tiki in a range of bright colours, made from recycled materials. These exquisitely formed modern treasures bear the Boynton hallmark of attention to detail and the fine application of tools and technology. “These hei tiki design are a great example of upcycling – pretty much taonga out of trash,” Jamie explains.

IT’S A GREAT TIME TO BE HERE; ON THE EDGE OF ANOTHER WAVE OF MĀORI RENAISSANCE.

BoyntonArt also has a graphic novel waiting in the wings. Tina and Jamie are working on a concept inspired by the digital print ‘Hine nui te po’. “It’s likely going to be aimed at ‘tweens’ but, like most manga, will work at that age group but have a higher level of interpretation for adults.”

Jamie in front of his iconic piece “Manu,” which has become something of a landmark in Whakatāne.

BoyntonArt also has a degree of succession planning involved, acting as a potential vehicle for the childrens’ creative talents. Aroha and Aaria attend Waiotahe Valley School and Jamie is currently working with students to create a series of Pou Whenua to commemorate the school’s centenary. He’s also supporting the combined Sunshine and Canvas charity exhibition in Whakatāne in June; and exhibiting in Auckland in July with a collective of Ōpōtiki artists as a fundraiser for the Ōpōtiki Technology and Research Centre. So how is that dream of fifteen years ago tracking? Is it possible to make a secure living in the Eastern Bay balancing work and creative satisfaction? “I guess I started out using graphic design to support my artwork and the balance between the two demands would fluctuate. Neither dominate; I’m not locked into one field. I’m working 50/50 in both worlds and one discipline informs the other.” “Working on fine art pieces - painting, sculpture - is very meditative and pure, but I’m the first to admit it can become somewhat overly self-indulgent (clears throat!). Working collaboratively on a piece of brand design or a public artwork is the foil to that.” “I’ve pretty much gone full circle to be in a very stimulating space.”

1

Ruru - ‘The wise old owl’, Kaitiaki (Guardian) of the night and keeper of wisdom.

2

Manaia - The essence of spirit, presented as the eternal figure eight.

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Poupou (sculpture of the ancestor Toi). Made from carved perspex and internally lit, this Poupou represents transformative change.

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Waka Rama (Light Vessel) An autonomous source of renewable energy, the ‘Light Waka’ carries whakapapa (genealogy) as a taonga (treasure).

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Radio Days INTERVIEW ANDY TAYLOR PHOTOGRAPHY SARAH TRAVERS

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XX dio 1 a R nd s, behi r car e u c o r in g fo been t time. rivin d s a e h a f h t ut th oice ent o een v i o b p h s i i g s c re ha dh rou s ITH cent ar hi n, an chens th e M e o r i h S t e a o r e NN kit d rit t th th and GLE for a gen f Me is heade p wi o s u n r t e a h v d cara nty caug aland Or ere radio ersary. h e iv e l Z P ew out w 45th ann the N and find s ’ 1XX story e of v e e on th


Radio 1XX remains one of the few independent radio stations in New Zealand, at a time when most broadcasters are part of large media groups; can you tell us a little about how it all began? PLENTY

GS It was the first regional independent radio station in New Zealand, and it was largely driven by Ross Niederer. He was a visionary. Which was unusual then as now, and one of his concepts was a local radio station. Originally it was to be privately owned and he gathered a group of interested people together and applied for a license; the government had a policy of rejecting most independent applications, but they didn’t reject this one because they thought it would fail anyway! They hadn’t factored in Ross Niederer. At that time broadcasting was very much a government monopoly and obviously they didn’t want to cede ground, but the whole reason that private radio – and particularly pirate radio like Radio Hauraki – started up was because there was a groundswell of public interest that became virtually uncontrollable. There wasn’t really any model for standalone stations then, and while people like Ross had studied what was going on overseas, Glenn Smith, of Radio 1XX it was completely different to what was going on here. PLENTY How did your involvement with radio in the Bay begin? GS My first day here was on the 18th November 1974. In those days the station wasn’t 24hrs and had extended hours in summer, and I was hired as the summer announcer to work the overnight shift. I drove down from Auckland and walked into the building about 11am and they said to me that I was on air at midday! The first day I was on air for four hours and the second day I also covered the night time announcer’s role, and really thought, ’What is going to happen on the third day!?’ But I loved it anyway because that was what I wanted to do. I was inspired by the whole pirate radio scene and was involved with student radio, in a station that went on to be Radio B and then bFM. I was also involved with obtaining the first short term student radio license, and that in itself was a saga: the licenses were available in theory, but no-one had ever got one, so I managed to gatecrash an electorate meeting of the then Minister of Broadcasting Roger Douglas and ask him for a license! Subsequently they said they were concerned we’d use bad language – this was in 1973 or 74 – and they said that we had to put up a $50,000 cash bond against public disturbance! That was an extraordinary amount of money in those days – but we called their bluff and the University put up the money! Which I think really ruffled a few feathers. It was somewhat contentious that this bunch of ragtag students had been given a license when much more important applications had been denied.

PLENTY What first got you interested in radio? GS I’d always been drawn to broadcasting, ever since I was a child. We had the radiogram at home and in 1967 1ZB had a DJ contest that I managed to score a position in that gave me a short show in the afternoon. I suspect it was the only time in those days that John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers were played on 1ZB! But also, half of what I played was New Zealand music, which was also rare. I also spent a lot of time at Broadcasting House and was involved with the Loxene Golden Disc Awards on television as a judge for a couple of years.

PLENTY And how did you make the jump from being behind the mic to station management? GS As well as being on air and doing promotions I was also writing copy, then in 1978 a guy called Rod Prater came along and appointed me as sales manager out of the blue, and when he left I became general manager and over the years acquired some shareholding. Then about 20 years ago myself and some business partners acquired the Niederer family interests.

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PLENTY What would you say have been the biggest changes in the radio industry? GS The biggest change is that radio is an analog industry in a digital world. The whole direction of the business is now towards digital, but the amazing thing about radio is that it is incredibly resilient, and it is quite unexpected how it currently sits in the digital world. It has been described as a companion media, in that a lot of people see it as a comforting presence, but also in that you can be listening to radio while doing other things, like being online. Radio also works incredibly well with social media, and it surprises a lot of people that radio is still so important. Studies have recently shown that people have an affinity with their radios, with some research showing that we consume on average 74 minutes of audio per day, half of that being radio. So radio still has an important place in New Zealand. PLENTY The larger media organisations are putting their faith in talkback radio; what are your thoughts on that? GS We have done talkback in the past, but in somewhere like here, where we are doing it live, we don’t have a production team, and we don’t have the depth of callers that you get in a major city, the talkback tends to get dominated by the same people. I think that there can be particular topics that lend themselves to it, but in terms of open-line talkback, I think we are seeing a move away from that. PLENTY It is almost impossible to separate Glenn

Smith from 1XX – how does it feel to be synonymous with the station?

GS Well, I’m really passionate about radio and I’m very passionate about 1XX, and I’m aware that we have a special position here, so it’s a compliment. One of the things that we have always tried to do is to take a neutral position so that we can be as inclusive as possible. We have taken a position at times, like the potential closure of the hospital or Air New Zealand pulling out of regional services, but we mostly want to be neutral and inclusive, and that is hard because the industry is changing – virtually by the hour – and a lot of the big decisions confronting us are certainly not made here. So we are actually in many ways operating in a global environment and it is a real challenge to operate the services we do like local news on a daily basis. PLENTY And we have to ask: how does it feel to have been awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Broadcasting? GS Ha – quite exciting! And very humbling. It comes with a very nice ribbon!

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70 foot sound/vision receiving aerials

IT WAS

1962

AND THREE MEN IN THE EASTERN BAY WERE DETERMINED THE REVOLUTION WOULD BE TELEVISED. BATTLING BUREAUCRACY, A LACK OF FUNDS AND FLEDGLING TECHNOLOGY, THREE KAWERAU PIONEERS TOOK ON THE GOVERNMENT, TRANSFORMED NEW ZEALAND’S BROADCASTING LANDSCAPE AND BROUGHT TELEVISION, AND ER,

BONANZA, TO THE EASTERN BAY.

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WORDS HAMISH PETTENGELL OF THE WHAKATANE MUSEUM AND RESEARCH CENTRE PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF KEL RIMMER

The television Pirates The men who would become known as the Television Pirates all came from humble beginnings. Dennis Cobbe and Grahame Bryce trained at the Electrical and Wireless School at Wigram, Christchurch, in the late 1930s, but their friendship was cemented during their military service in the UK during WWII where they topped their classes in radio training and went on to be in charge of RAF radar stations. They were both gifted young men, confident - some would say headstrong - and ingenious. Kel Rimmer of Kawerau worked with Bryce for nearly 20 years and remained firm friends with him after that. “He was a brilliant engineer,” he recalls. “They all were, but particularly Grahame. He was a very humble man and a really optimistic chap, but also one that didn’t like anyone standing in his way, especially the government.” After the war Cobbe, set up a radio repair shop in Rotorua and, following a stint in Wellington, Bryce joined him there before moving on to run the successful general store in Kawerau. “The store was a huge success,” Kel Rimmer says. “There were so many single men working in Kawerau with plenty of wages and not much to spend them on”. At one time the store was the biggest stand-alone seller of cigarettes in the country and was the sixthlargest outlet for gramophone records. Not bad for a town the size of Kawerau.

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“But he ran into some difficulties with local bureaucracy, who wanted his business moved into the new central business district site. Grahame always said “Take it to the top”, and he did; he sent a telegram to Prime Minister Walter Nash to plead his case.” Hire cars were in short supply in the fledgling town and Bryce, seeing a business opportunity, bought several VW Beetles and Morris Minors and set up a rental fleet. One Morris, with just 300 miles on the clock, broke down and, when the required parts could not be found locally or at the national distributor, Bryce once again took it to the top. After arranging for the required radio-telephone links to be made, he called Lord Nuffield, the head of Morris Cars Ltd, in the UK and outlined the situation. “Lord Nuffield said, ‘Goodness gracious, I had no idea such a situation was occurring in the colonies’,” says Kel Rimmer. “He promised to get on to it, even air-freighting the parts to Singapore to speed the process. Grahame may have over-embellished things a bit, and the poor chap who was the Morris rep arrived from Singapore to apologise, expecting to find some major motor car company. Instead he found Grahame, shirtless and under a car covered in oil and Tarawera ash.” In 1957 Bryce passed something of a milestone when he built his own television set, complete with handwound coils and a 19 inch tube. Alas, there was no signal to receive in Kawerau - or anywhere south of the Bombays in those days - so this televisual wonder could do little more than cast a cheery monochrome glow of static, which one witty observer noted was so bright that there was “plenty of light for us to read a newspaper by”. At about the same time a man called John King, an electrical engineer at the Whakatāne Borough Council, had obtained a professionally built set and

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modified it to try and receive the weak signals from Australia. His reception was poor and weather-dependent but, like Cobbe and Bryce, he persevered. Then in 1959 the Auckland station 1YA began transmitting television (initially for just two hours per week) and it seemed things were moving at last. The 1YA signal was not strong enough to reach the Bay of Plenty, however, and the government of the day said rolling out transmission equipment to the area would take at least four years.

..AND THEN THE 2500 TELEVISION SETS THROUGHOUT THE EASTERN BAY FELL OMINOUSLY SILENT.

Cobbe, Bryce and King didn’t want to wait four years. Instead, with an idea borrowed from WWII radar, they tried to boost the signal themselves with a device they erected atop the Hunua ranges about 30km south of Auckland. This met with mixed results and clearly something more powerful – and local – was needed. It came in the form of New Zealand’s first “translator”. Built by Cobbe, it took a signal from the Kaharoa hills and beamed it in to Rotorua, and Bryce was quick to follow with a translator on the Manawahe hills that broadcast to Whakatāne, Kawerau and the surrounding area. It worked brilliantly. Television had come to the Eastern Bay. And the government was not amused. In fact it was outraged and swiftly ordered the translator and another improved version that followed to be removed. Then began a war of words between the Minister of Broadcasting and the New Zealand Broadcasting

TV pirates: Dennis Cobbe with original Translator 1962 (top) Grahame Bryce 1987 (bottom) Commission on one side, and the local television “pirates” and the newly formed television associations that sprang up throughout the Eastern Bay on the other. The former complained of copyright infringement and the misuse of vital frequencies; the latter cried poppycock, with Bryce saying, “It would appear that in our supposedly democratic country people of ability are not permitted to demonstrate in a practical manner their own individuality.” It was fighting talk, with passionate enthusiasts squaring off against state bureaucracy, both sides firing off telegrams and railing to the press, and the small-town boffins of the Eastern Bay openly baiting the Wellington powers-that-be. With all this going on, who needed TV?


Things came to a head in November 1962. The Minister of Broadcasting ordered the translators confiscated by “inspectors”. Bryce invited the media to come and watch, and then sent a telegram to the Minister saying if they were removed he would simply replace them with bigger ones. As the 3pm deadline on the designated day approached, about 40 people gathered at Manawahe to see the show and the tension grew palpable, with threats of arrests. But the deadline came and went with no inspectors arriving, and the small crowd drifted away. It was just as well; the translators had been removed by Bryce and his cohorts and stashed in a farm shed. They were back in operation within a day or two. Threats continued in what the NZBC was now referring to internally – and apparently without a hint of irony - as “The Kawerau Affair”. Bryce said he was prepared to go to jail over the matter; for a time it seemed he might, and yet within weeks the government changed tack and announced that “authorised organisations” would be permitted to operate translator stations, thereby creating a loophole that kept the pirates out of jail and the now-daily television broadcasts streaming out over the Eastern Bay. The pirates, it seemed, had won.

finish, and then, just before Bonanza was about to explode on to the screen, he switched off the vision channel and the audio was replaced by his voice. Succinctly Bryce explained that without money the translator could not continue and would shut down immediately. And then the 2500 television sets throughout the Eastern Bay fell ominously silent. The response was overwhelming. Money poured in. By June 1963 a massive new aerial system had been built and was performing beyond all

expectations, covering from Te Puke to Cape Runaway, Kawerau, Te Mahoe, Murupara and Ōpōtiki. It worked so well that it would eventually be taken over by NZBC and would continue to function well into the 1980s. In our media-saturated age it is hard to appreciate the huge impact the television pirates had then, or to overestimate what they achieved with the classic Kiwi attributes of dogged determination and DIY ingenuity. Even today, the Kawerau Affair is still an affair to remember.

Corner reflector transmitting aerial

It was not quite time for celebrations however. The illegal translators had been funded through the television associations and voluntary donations, but by 1963 the money had run out and the cost of maintaining the translators was growing; for his part alone John King said he had worn out at least one car travelling up to Manawahe on a regular basis to adjust the equipment. Word went out that funds were needed but, none were forthcoming, so Bryce reluctantly set out for the Manawahe translator one Wednesday night, carrying a device to allow him to speak over the audio channel of the broadcast. He waited for the news to P L E N T Y. C O . N Z // M AY 2 0 1 6

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Plenty 02 2016  
Plenty 02 2016