Rob Webb

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.

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