Kiwi designers tell the sentimental secrets of sports that have shaped them
Where Kiwi designers call home
Ingrid Starnes lives in Auckland with her partner Simon Pound, 10-year-old twins Olya and Ned, six-year-old daughter Gertie and Harry the cat. She grew up in Manutuke, near Gisborne.
What do you do? I’m a fashion designer with two stores in Auckland, a busy online presence, stockists around New Zealand and a growing selection overseas. We create considered, beautifully made clothing and fragrances, designed and produced here by our small network of talented makers. We’ve been in business for eight years and have loved getting to know our customers and seeing the women who wear the clothes do some wonderful things.
Where did you grow up? I grew up in Manutuke , a small country village outside Gisborne, on a long, dead-end road, next door to a marae. We were surrounded by an amazing group of farmers, orchardists and winemakers. On our street we had great friends who were well ahead of their time and turning their fruit, vegetable and flower orchards into organic farms. Beside us was Millton Vineyard, who were pioneers in biodynamic and organic farming. It’s been so interesting to see the world catch up to the life we were living in Gisborne 30 years ago.
What was your family home like? It was built by my parents on a small lifestyle block. They were amazing gardeners, so we grew up with varied and beautiful flower and vegetable gardens, and every fruit tree you could think of. It was a very creative and busy home.
My parents bought the property in 1980 and lived
there for 24 years before they sold. My mum now lives at our small bach about an hour’s drive up the coast from Gisborne.
What prompted your move to Auckland? I moved to Auckland when I was 17 to study fashion design at AUT. I’ve lived here ever since, mostly in the suburbs on the fringes of the CBD. We’re now in Point Chevalier, which we love.
How often do you return to Gisborne? We usually go back twice a year and stay with my sisters. Sometimes we camp on Mum’s lawn; she’s currently building a home on our beachland, which is designed to be very much like a marae, so we can all fit in when we come down. The spot where she lives is so special. My family camped there every summer, so it’s very much part of our imagination, and not a lot has changed. We love exploring the place with our own kids, doing all the things we used to as children.
What’s so great about this region? The weather is such a drawcard and the beaches are amazing — up the coast is especially beautiful. I love that there’s a fantastic creative network of people who have stayed on and started unique and interesting businesses. It’s not an easy place to make things work because it’s so small and remote, but there’s a strong sense of loyalty and support for making cool things happen there. There’s also an amazingly strong Māori community. The primary school I went to, Manutuke School, was and still is predominately teaching te reo as a first language, and there’s a strong community pride in and ownership of the school. I feel very lucky to have grown up in a community like that.
What’s the best local eatery? We don’t often eat out as there are so many of us, with my three sisters and our kids, so we all cook and share meals. We do love to visit the vineyards, though. A favourite is Millton, with its new natural wines.
Apart from the beach, where do you go to get in touch with nature? We love to visit Eastwoodhill Arboretum. I’ve been going there since I was little and it’s the most incredible arboretum in New Zealand. I can’t recommend it enough. When you return to Gisborne after spending time away, what’s the first thing you do? Go for a swim in the sea at my mum’s place. How has growing up in Gisborne influenced your work? Coming from a small town and community, you can really appreciate the realness of life. Hard work is something I’m never afraid of because of what it takes to make it in a place like Gisborne. My parents ran their own business there and I saw how hard it was, but also the opportunities it gives you in life.
What makes it your happy place? I love that a lot of my family is there, and that it doesn’t change too much between visits. It still feels like the place I loved growing up in and continues to be an important part of my family’s life.
Sara Munro of Company of Strangers lives in Dunedin with her husband Bill, daughter Frankie (15), son Vinnie (6), stepsons Arlo (16) and Valentine (13), and Jackson the dog, who the kids named after the King of Pop.
What do you do? I’m the founder of Company of Strangers, a proudly New Zealand-made design company, and I run Company Store, our online designer boutique and flagship store where we also stock brands like Lela Jacobs, Henrik Vibskov, P.A.M and Underground Sundae. I started out making jewellery and leather goods — mainly bags from vintage leather jackets — and then it developed into clothing. It’s always made sense for me to repurpose things that have been tossed aside and give them another life. I never want to be part of fashion’s throwaway culture, so what we make at Company should last until you decide to sell it or pass it on to someone else.
Where in Dunedin do you live? We live in Andersons Bay, in an art deco-style house with beautiful views of the harbour and the surrounding hills, and a giant Norfolk pine tree in the backyard that our kids climb to see what the surf ’s doing. With such a large family, we bought the house for its size and privacy. Built in 1948, it was and still is a DIY dream, and it’s also conveniently located — it’s just across the road from our youngest’s school, a six-minute drive to work for me, 12 minutes’ walk to the beach and walking distance from the grandparents’ houses.
What makes Dunedin feel like home? It’s a great place for the extrovert or the homebody — me being the latter. I love that you can see the ocean or the harbour from pretty much anywhere, and that it’s within walking distance, too. I also love the way the hills surround you without closing in on you — it feels comforting and safe.
What emotions does it evoke for you that no other place can? That feeling of calm, and unpretentiousness. I don’t care who sees me in my paint-covered clothes — everyone’s doing the same thing, so it’s cool.
Please describe Dunedin to someone who’s never been. We have so many heritage buildings and many of them now house cool cafés, tech businesses, design houses… Actually, half the time you don’t know who the occupants are because most have no signage. Most are low-rise and around 100 years old, but sprinkled throughout are all these cool ’60s buildings and features, like the overbridge near my work that leads to the restaurant Plato, where my husband and I met. Well, re-met; we sat next to each other at intermediate school.
Dunedin Library is another of my favourite buildings, and there’s street art everywhere — huge murals by local and international street artists. The council is proactive in making this happen, which is awesome.
What are some of the city’s other unique characteristics? You can afford to buy a bloody amazing house! It really is more than achievable to own property here and live that Kiwi DIY dream, which is getting less dreamlike for us now we’re onto our third renovation.
What’s the best local eatery? No.7 Balmac for the food, amazing interior, incredible staff, impeccable wine list, and the fact they grow their own veges and herbs in the garden out the back. My weekday go-to is The Standard Kitchen; its focus is wellness and nutrition, but also incredible flavour. For breakfast, I swear by the edamame and feta smash on nut loaf — it keeps you going all day. My kids also love Good Good, a burger joint where they have live music most Saturday nights.
And the best outdoor activity? Every weekend, my friend Emma and I run on one of our many local trails. We’re spoiled for choice here, but my favourite is the Flagstaff to Swampy Summit trail, which has multiple peaks and epic views over the whole city, harbour, ocean and coastline, then over the Taieri Plain. Our incentive is coffee at No.7 Balmac on the way home — they don’t look twice when you walk in all sweaty with muddy runners on, either. When you return after spending time away, what’s the first thing you do? Head to Starfish at St Clair for a coffee or a pint, take the dog for a walk with the kids and just chill out. I love coming back here, it’s so beautiful and quiet and the pace is so relaxing, which makes it easy to unwind.
What are some of your favourite local
memories? As children, we spent most of our summers in a crib at Long Beach, a 20-minute drive from Dunedin. We’d have a New Year’s Eve bonfire, play cricket in the park, explore the beach and caves; in my late teens there were ‘cave raves’, until they got banned. I remember making bracelets out of the spiky plants on the beach near the crib. I used to make them for everyone. How does living in Dunedin influence your work? It makes you more resourceful and better at improvising, because you don’t have access to everything. It also makes you think about layering a lot more than you would if you lived in a more consistent climate. Four seasons in one day is a real thing here, so you’ve got to be prepared. What’s something most people don’t know about Dunedin? Probably most things, which is kinda how we like it. That’s how it stays so peaceful
What makes it your happy place? My family, of course; the beautiful, talented and hilarious women that I’m lucky enough to work with; and that life is so damn easy here.
Maggie Hewitt lives in Auckland, where she runs her internationally acclaimed luxury fashion label Maggie Marilyn, which she established straight out of university. She grew up in Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands.
What do you do? I’m the founder of New Zealand-based womenswear brand Maggie Marilyn. My focus is continuing to find my own way to run the business, and to implement strategies and ideas that are specific to it. Maggie Marilyn changes every day, and the team and I have learned to adapt fast when things aren’t working. I might not have been doing this for 30 years, but I do listen to my gut and lead from it in most cases, and I think it’s important to always be innovative in terms of ideas and processes.
Where did you grow up? Our house is right on the water in Kerikeri. My family is mainly based in Auckland now, but Kerikeri is still our home, and when my sisters and I go back, the first thing we do is race down to the water and jump off the wharf. It’s a little tradition of ours.
What prompted you to leave Kerikeri? After high school, I moved to Auckland to study fashion design at Whitecliffe College, and have lived here for the seven years since. I love running my business from Auckland but when I can, I go back to Kerikeri to design.
It’s an environment that never fails to get my creativity flowing.
How often do you go back? My busy schedule doesn’t allow me to get up to the Bay of Islands as often as I’d like, but whenever there’s a window, I’m there. For the first 18 years of my life, Kerikeri was all I knew, so there’ll always be a lot of nostalgia attached to the place; the salty smell of the ocean and fresh scent of blooms from my mama’s garden.
What emotions does it evoke for you that no other place can? It brings me a sense of comfort. It’s a place where all my worries fade and I can immediately relax. In this industry, that’s a lifesaver.
What’s so great about Kerikeri itself? It’s a quaint place, all small boutiques and cafés.
The landscape and architecture is tired but beautiful with lots of history, and it’s a typical small town in that everyone knows everyone; walking down the main street you always see old friends. Kerikeri doesn’t really change and stays true to its roots, which I think is why it feels so much like home to me. The same people are still running the same cafés and businesses they were when I was growing up.
What’s the best local eatery? It’s not so good if mosquitoes are drawn to you, but I love Food at Wharepuke, which is nestled in a beautiful rainforest retreat. My go-to is the fresh sashimi platter or the divine snapper dish with mashed potatoes, greens and a buttery lemon sauce that I’ve never quite been able to replicate.
And the best outdoor activities? The Waitangi Forest is a beautiful walk, or there’s a Kerikeri Basin walk that takes you to a hidden waterfall in native bush. And, of course, water activities such as surfing are always there.
What are some of your favourite local memories? In high school, it was a daily after-school routine to go straight to the trusty golden arches and get an afternoon snack. At the time, McDonald’s had those machines on the counter where you’d throw a coin into a hectic tank of water and try to land it on a little platform to get a free sundae. I was always really good at it, landing it every time, so I won a lot of sundaes for my friends and I, until the owners grew tired of it and banned me. How has growing up in Kerikeri influenced your work? I think being from the country grounds you in ways the city just can’t. I have a natural sense of flow running through my veins that translates to my clothing in the way garments fall on a silhouette like waves lapping on the sand. Natural colour palettes resonate with me, too. What’s something most people don’t know about Kerikeri? The
Bay of Islands is a secret hotspot for actor Tom Cruise, who occasionally flies around during the summer months.
What makes it your happy place? The ocean and the silence. It’s my safe haven away from the hustle and bustle of Auckland. Pour me a glass of red on the porch looking out to the water and I’m happy. I’m home.
Zoe & Morgan co-founder Morgan Sibbald was born in England, emigrated to New Zealand as a child, returned to London as a young adult, then travelled around before settling in Seminyak, Bali, with his eight-year-old daughter Luella.
What do you do? I design and manufacture jewellery for Zoe & Morgan, the brand I founded with my sister Zoë [Williams] in 2005. Our father was also a jeweller and when we were young we spent a lot of time in India and other places sourcing gems, which led to my passion for crystals. As part of my role, I travel the world sourcing crystals and gems for our collections; some are kept as they are and others are cut into faceted stones. We [sister Ruth Sibbald included] have been making jewellery since we were kids and love using all the mediums available, from the most sophisticated 3D printers to hand-carving.
Where in Bali do you and Luella live? We live in a simple home with a lovely garden and furniture that we’ve designed. It’s a creative home — there’s always drawing and music going on. It’s our manifestation station, where our dreams are brought into the physical realm.
When did you move to Bali? I came here 12 years ago. Before that, I was on the move a lot. I’d spend my summers in New Zealand, where I was involved in music, then head to Europe for winter.
What was its appeal? I like warm weather, and given all the travel involved in my job, it’s handy to be in Asia. Bali is full of creative people who are very skilful in the traditional arts, which was attractive to me as well. I also love that the Balinese are very focused on the spiritual aspects of life — a rare thing in an increasingly materialistic world.
What about it feels like home? I love to be surrounded by greenery and flowers, to be able to swim in the ocean any time I like, and the diversity Indonesia offers. Also, my daughter is in Bali and I’m at home when we’re together. What emotions does it evoke for you that no other place can? I don’t know that it evokes any unique emotions, purely because the things I love aren’t
exclusive to Bali. I love this planet, I love to be in nature, and there’s something beautiful to be found in that regard in every area of the globe. What’s unique about Indonesia is the geographical diversity, from Flores’ amazing dramatic landscape to Raja Ampat’s uninhabited islands, where the jungle grows right to the water’s edge. While swimming there once, I saw a red bird-of-paradise sitting on a branch just metres away. Raja Ampat is truly a unique wonder of this world and I can’t recommend it enough.
What else is so great about Bali? It’s like a mixture of a heaven and hell — you see the best and worst of humanity on this magical island. You have the beer-soaked bogans of Canggu and Kuta and the standstill traffic jams, then you have the holy-water springs deep in the mountains and some of the world’s most amazing resorts. The streets of Bali can be chaotic and hectic and ugly, but then you can go into a place and find a hidden paradise. Bali is also a haven for yoga and wellness — we have amazing restaurants with healthy foods, and yoga shalas without walls where you can practice surrounded by trees, flowers and birds. And it’s a cultural melting pot. The Indonesian community is amazingly diverse with multiple languages spoken, each totally different. It’s a mix of ancient spiritual culture combined with an international crowd from every corner of the globe. In an hour you can go from an ancient ceremony still practiced as it was 2000 years ago, to a party where you’ll meet some of the most interesting contemporary musicians and designers.
What’s the best local eatery? I love Zest Ubud — its cutting-edge vegan food is so tasty and full of vitality. In Canggu, I like The Slow, which has a nice atmosphere in which to hang out and socialise, and Indigo for its gracious interior and Japanese food.
And the best outdoor activity? Some of Bali’s waterfalls are really spectacular, but the most amazing place I’ve been is definitely Raja Ampat. Sailing on a traditional teak phinisi through its Wayag Islands is beyond breathtaking. When you return to Bali after spending time away, what’s the first thing you do? I love to go to a holy-water waterfall for a melukat — a traditional Balinese purification ceremony. It’s so powerful and the best way to leave all I don’t need behind, and open myself to fresh energy.
How does living here influence your work? Bali is the place I love, but my work is abroad in Thailand and the UK, so for me Bali is a place of rest, rejuvenation and family time.
What makes it your happy place? It’s where I’ve transformed. It’s like the cocoon in which I grew my wings.
Right: Ingrid Starnes. Piecesfrom her SS18 collection (far right and opposite) areavailable for pre-order now.
Home for Ingrid will always be onthe east coast, where she and her sisters (top) grewup in a closeknit community.
Company of Strangers founder Sara Munro (below) lives in Dunedin’s Andersons Bay.
Right: Model wears Company ofStrangers SS19. Bottom: Exquisite Aramoana, which lies just northof the city.
One of Maggie’s favourite things to do is hike to the waterfall in the Kerikeri Basin.
Her family’s sprawling waterfront property is the designer’s safe haven and provides creative inspiration too.
A scene from Morgan’s lush tropical garden, complete with a pool that’s perfect for swimming year-round.
Morgan (above) lists some of Indonesia’s islands as his favourite finds. Pictured is Padar Island in West Flores.