Rob Webb, father of teenage twins, radio broadcaster and lover of heartland New Zealand, travels main and not so main roads in search of interesting places and people, some of whom can be reluctant to be interviewed...
TAIRUA I have always wondered what it would be like to work from home. Belinda Muir, who contracts out her services as a Human Resources and Business Consultant, reckons she is lucky to work from her home because she’s based in the gorgeous Coromandel village of Tairua, “a perfect place to raise kids and really appreciate what New Zealand has to offer”. She grew up on a dairy farm near Matamata, attended Matamata College, did a gap year waitressing in her parent’s homeland, Switzerland, before going to Waikato University to do an English literature degree, where she met husband-to-be, Carl Muir. She joined ANZ on their graduate programme in Wellington, and was working at ANZ Head Office Melbourne when she took a “career break” and did an OE to the UK. A phone call to Britain from her employer led to a year with the bank in Vanuatu after which she returned to Auckland. After seven years with the bank, she exchanged the corporate life for the Tairua sunshine where Carl had started his successful Epic Adventures fishing charter business. If she’s not working from home, she’s out doing her bit for the community. That includes being a volunteer fire fighter, secretary for the local brigade, and a stint as the Coromandel Sustainable Tourism Adviser. At her children’s school, she’s a kayak instructor and is one of the many helpers at the school’s popular and successful annual fundraiser, the Tairua Wine and Food Festival. Consulting clients from Kaipara in the north to Invercargill in the south as well, means getting out and doing some exercise is a priority, especially since she’ll be lining up in December for the Taupo Half Marathon.
MASTERTON Rick Long was a butcher for 40 years; so was his father Jim Long and his grandfather Tui Long. The family were popular and innovative wholesalers and retailers of meat in the Wairarapa capital until closing in the early 90s when shop trading hours and restrictions disappeared and supermarkets traded seven days a week in everything, including meat. In his youth Rick was almost a New Zealand guitar-playing rock and roll sensation and in fact he still plays in a band today. In 1978, when metrics took over from pounds and ounces, Rick collaborated with his accountant to produce Ricky Long’s Guide to the Meat Trade. At one time national president of the Licensing Trusts Association, he served on the Masterton Licensing Trust for 35 years, the last 29 years as its chairman. He has been on the Masterton District Council and Wellington Regional Council and once aspired to be the local National MP the year Wyatt Creech got the nod. But post the meat trade, Rick has been most well known as talkback host on Paul Henry’s one-time Carterton radio station, Today FM and also for his regular, incisive and witty newspaper columns, later put together to form his second book One Man’s Meat. I notice that his sense of humour must have been passed down from his dad. During the huge event that was the 1953 Queen’s visit to Masterton, Jim Long was more than a little miffed to see a newlyarrived British immigrant competitor proclaiming on his front window “the Queen ate our meat”. In no time, just along the street, the shoe white was on Long’s window in response: “God Save the Queen”.
PAPAMOA Lesley Eriksen grew up on a large sheep and cattle station in the Mangamahu Valley between Ohakune and Wanganui. Her primary schools were small (just her, sister Rachel, another couple and the teacher’s family at one), so a wide range of sport was never on offer, but being close to Mount Ruapehu meant ski trips were frequent. Whilst a Wanganui Girls College boarder she went to Sweden as an AFS exchange student. “The extreme cold really suited me” she says of her memorable 1990 year. Host families became firm friends and some remain in touch. Returning to Wanganui, her first job had a lasting effect on her: making herbal remedies and mixing tinctures for Kathleen Keith at the Gonville Herbal Healing Clinic led Lesley to love natural health philosophy and remedies and to experiment, so that she now markets her own range of Angel’s Body Balms and natural skin care products based on aromatherapy. She completed a nursing degree in Wellington, then worked for the director of Australian Natural Therapies, before backpacking around Europe for two years and taking a role as herbal remedy maker back in Melbourne. Not too keen on aspects of what she terms “the traditional medical system”, she became quite an advocate of natural health remedies, completing a Diploma of Therapeutic Massage in Australia. Returning to Wellington she ran her own business for eight years which included on-the-job chair massage for corporates and government departments. After giving birth to daughter Sage in the Spring of 2011, she and partner Glen decided to move to a warmer climate close to the beach. The lovely Western Bay of Plenty coastal suburb of Papamoa near Mount Maunganui is their home now and that beach is only a couple of hundred metres from their front door.