Kiwi de­sign­ers tell the sen­ti­men­tal se­crets of sports that have shaped them

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Where Kiwi de­sign­ers call home

In­grid Starnes

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

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

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.

Mor­gan Sib­bald

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.

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