Category Archives: Community

Jo Guy

Life and Lemonade

“When life throws you lemons, make lemonade” is a saying most of us will have heard at one time or another, a poignant phrase that encourages optimism in the face of adversity and misfortune. When life threw Jo Guy lemons she did exactly that, and her blog came to life.

Keep your head upJo admits to never being much of a writer, but after experiencing loss within her family she saw herself beginning to journal. “I started writing down things every day to get the rubbish out of my head. I started doing more and more and then I thought, ‘You know what? When I look back on these journals I’ve learnt a lot, so maybe I could pass that on’. I’ve found that I love writing, which is odd because I’ve never done it before.”

Jo sought the expertise of Jumprope, a marketing firm that helped to bring her ideas to life, creating a platform for Jo to share and connect with others. Discussions of life, fashion and food are what readers find on Jo’s blog, including some of her mother’s and grandmothers’ oldest recipes. After owning her own styling business and women’s boutique, Jo also shares her knowledge of trends, colours and shapes in the hopes of building confidence and self-esteem in others.

My grandchildren inspired me; I want to reinforce those values. I’d like to address different issues in a way that children can understand.

“I met some really interesting people so I wanted to document their stories. I wanted them to write about themselves and what they had been through. It’s interesting to hear how someone else overcomes something, because we’ve all been through something, we all have a story to tell, and it’s just whether people mind telling those stories.”

The Happiness ProjectFor Jo, connecting with others is what she loves most about blogging. “If I can help somebody coming behind me or their life is touched a little by what I’ve written, then it’s worth it. I want others to know there is a way through and I hope I inspire others to keep going and to not give up.”

Life issues are somewhat at the heart of Make Lemonade, and it’s a topic close to Jo’s heart. “Not a lot of people talk about the life issues; you’ll find plenty of blogs on food and fashion. Sometimes we don’t talk about the important things enough. Because of the hardships we went through our priorities became very clear. Talking is really important in relationships, so that kind of fascinates me, how people interact and communicate.

“I think it’s trying to encourage people to sit around the table and have a meal and talk, just getting back to the basics. Maybe bring it to the front of people’s minds and remind them it’s important.”

I’ve found that I love writing, which is odd because I’ve never done it before.

With 11 grandchildren, family is a big part of Jo’s life. She is also looking to start writing children’s books inspired by her own grandchildren. “I’ve got an illustrator looking at them at the moment; I’m hoping that’s the vehicle I can use to get them out there. My grandchildren inspired me; I want to reinforce those values. I’d like to address different issues in a way that children can understand.

“I guess Make Lemonade is meant to enrich our lives, so that other people feel better for reading it and they spread that. If we all make a difference in our families and the way we live, it creates a kind of ripple effect. For us we had a ripple effect of all these bad things, and it seemed to get worse. You think to yourself, ‘I’ve got to turn this around’, and then it becomes a ripple effect for the good. Hopefully Make Lemonade gives other people that hope.”



Have you ever heard your children or grandchildren say, “My ‘happy place’ is….”?

It made me think, “What is my ‘happy place’?” What is essentially just me? This is a question for you too. We all need a ‘happy place’.

I have several happy places or favourite things to do. Spending time with family, having everyone gathered around for a meal. Swimming in our local outdoor pool, with the sun shining and the water sparkling like diamonds. I like sitting and reading a good page turning mystery novel.

I just love hanging out with my husband Bryan. Travelling, discovering new places, experiencing new cultures and foods, or walking amongst beautiful trees and gardens.

Then it occurred to me that we get caught up in our roles as mother, wife, or in our particular job. Everywhere we look there are expectations on how we should look, behave and live. But we must be our own person too. I’m sure this sense of self gets lost along the way as we get busy with all the demands on us. (“To thine own self be true”, as Shakespeare wrote.)

As I have walked this journey of losing our dearly loved son and all the events that followed, I am starting to remember what kind of person I was. Tragedy and loss changes us but we can have a new depth and growth and still find our way, I hope, to be a better person.

I have this saying up on our wall at home – “A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails”.

Sometimes we need a gentle reminder. We all have a song.

I remember I love to wear funky clothes. So this season I have bought some seriously cool drop crotch pants. I remember I like to drive a little Mini Cooper. (There’s a fond memory of learning to drive in one as a teenager.) I remember I like to sing.

This is a new beginning for me and no one has to like what I like or even approve. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we find the person in us that we had forgotten was there.

Bringing in the donations

The Heart of Volunteering

Whether it is helping youth to reach their potential, lending a hand to families in need, or partnering with organisations to raise funds, Lyal Brenton is behind it all. Lyal’s commitment to volunteering stretches back 50 years and it continues to be a major part of his day-to-day life as a dedicated Manawatu volunteer and as manager of Goodwill.

LyalAs part of his work responsibilities, Lyal is in charge of raising money for charity as part of Methodist Social Services, a centre to help people in the community. Aside from that, he somehow manages to spread his time and skills between organisations such as Rotary, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Hospice, Red Cross, Salvation Army and Corrections.

Of all the volunteering Lyal has been involved in, the Big Brothers programme is what gives him the most satisfaction. For the past two years he has mentored an 11-year-old boy who otherwise would not have a male figure in his life. The pair go fishing, do archery and go to Big Rig days – classic boy stuff! “It’s an incredible journey watching his behaviour change and knowing that it’s from my influence that he’s benefiting,” says Lyal. “I have a passion for young people; sometimes they may go off the rails and head in different directions. But they are our future so they need development and balance.”

It’s about belonging to an organisation that affects change. There is always time for other people, we just have to get on with it.

“I get young people through here from Corrections. They come in and they’re lippy and out to prove something to the world. I had a young chap recently who was here for three weeks doing community service before going to rehab, at only 14. When he first came in his head was bowed down; by the time he left he held his head high. He cried when he left because he got a benefit from being here that you can’t actually measure. And that’s through a culture I create.” Some of the people Lyal has helped through Corrections have come back in and said, ‘Look, you helped me when I was down, you gave me food and clothes, I’d like to come back in now and help you.’”

DonationsHowever, spreading his generosity around Palmerston North is not enough; Lyal helps globally wherever he can. After disaster struck in Vanuatu, Lyal and his team packed up a shipping container full of clothing items to help those suffering. Being the Assisting Governor for his local Rotary group also means Lyal has helped with eradicating polio in South Africa and India, which he is thrilled are now polio free! “It’s about belonging to an organisation that affects change. There is always time for other people, we just have to get on with it.”


The Flower Seller of South Street

It has been two years since nine-year-old Scott Grady and his Dad, Warwick, decided to sell flowers grown right from their own sprawling suburban garden.

According to Scott, there is a comical story that marks the moment that his project first came to light: a lady surprised the family by appearing in the front yard carrying a kitchen knife at the ready…

Scott and dogOf course it turned out that she had innocent motives. She had just one simple query – could she cut some flowers? Enough to cater for a wedding? She left with buckets brimming, leaving father and son discussing the possibility of selling flowers as a project. “I came up with the idea of it being a cart,” Scott says.

Warwick is an avid gardener; “I do the growing, the cutting and the spraying”. Scott is a busy kid who loves a project. “Scott does the PR, bulk negotiations and accounts.”

The cart is situated outside their home on South Street in Palmerston North, a busy school area with lots of foot traffic. Scott reckons most customers pick up a bunch and leave $2 in the honesty box, and many donate generously. On occasion individuals even buy the entire cartload. Dishonesty is not a common problem for them. “If we get one bunch stolen a month we talk about it, it’s unusual,” says Warwick.

It was a nice thing, you kind of think; even at 3 o’clock in the morning people are out there caring

Despite its surprising popularity, the cart is not a commercial floristry service. After a complaint was filed with the council the cart now displays a permit, which may make Scott one of the youngest registered ‘hawkers’ in the region.

For Scott it is not all about the money he can make for himself. In fact the project has turned him into a bit of a philanthropist. “Originally, the money was going towards my martial arts and swimming lessons, but we were getting too much money,” says Scott.

FlowersInstead he now donates $40 a month to World Vision to sponsor a boy named Christopher from Malawi. He has also sent some of his earnings to Red Cross in support of the Nepal earthquake recovery programme.

While there is much to celebrate, not all has been smooth sailing for the Gradys; in February 2014 Scott’s cart fell victim to a night-time arson attack.

The police arrived to alert the family but Warwick recalls that the neighbours were first on the scene. “People used the flower buckets that were already there, leaving the flowers all tidily set aside, and used the water to put the fire out.

“It was a nice thing, you kind of think; even at 3 o’clock in the morning people are out there caring.”

Naturally Scott was upset about the attack, but he responded with resilience and decided he “would not give up”.

Originally, the money was going towards my martial arts and swimming lessons, but we were getting too much money

In the week after the fire the cart received a lot of support from customers and organisations in the area. Courtesy of a local business, the cart was even given a much-needed facelift. Now beautifully painted in a glossy green, with professional sign writing to match, it makes a grand statement on the street.

The past couple of years have brought the little cart much more attention than anticipated, and business is expanding beyond the front gate. Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School now sells Scott’s flowers in the summer and Scott has also interviewed a potential franchisee.

Scott and his flowers for saleMost of all the Gradys enjoy the hub that the cart creates on their doorstep. “School children and elderly people come to sit on the fence and watch the flowers and the fountains going… there are butterflies flying around, and bees buzzing, it’s quite nice,” says Warwick.

As for Scott, he may have become South Street’s flower cart king, but he is also a kid with many projects on the go, and endless ideas waiting in line up his sleeve. He has a few words of advice for anyone who has an idea brewing: you may end up becoming “pretty famous” but he thinks most importantly you need to be original and come up with your own ideas.

A world of creativity

A world of creativity

Thirty proud Maunga Kura Toi students celebrated their artwork last week with the launch of Nga Kete Toi – Te Wananga o Aotearoa art exhibition. The studio is now showcasing a whole world of Maori art waiting to be discovered, and the student artists are eagerly waiting to take everyone on a culture-filled journey. Beautiful weavings, carvings, and paintings are on display, each with a unique story behind it.

Oriwa Morgan-Ward, WaiwheroPainter Oriwa Morgan-Ward is one of the students with works on display, and is thrilled with the exhibition. “Maori art is not saturated, this is a great opportunity to bring it to the rest of the world,” she says. “It’s a way of expressing ourselves, to the public that haven’t experienced life in the world of Maori.”

Oriwa’s painting, Waiwhero, is one of many on display exploring concepts in colour, form, composition and light, to tell a beautiful story of womanhood. Each artist shows immense support and respect for one another, not shying away from showing off each other’s art. While Oriwa is speaking of the process behind creating a painting, she takes a moment to credit the patience carvers have when it comes to making mistakes, “at least we can paint over it! It’s a little harder when you’re a carver.”

Pru Robbie, RarangaPru Robbie, a level six student, has a striking Raranga (weaving) on display that wasn’t an easy task! “It takes a lot of practice to get it right, if the cuts are too deep or too shallow the whole things ruined.” Her approach was to have a simple pattern that was achievable so she could focus on neatness, “then I’ll do something amazing another day”. “I’ve named it Whakawhiti Korero, which means to make back and forth conversation. I have a lot of international people come through my house, then they’ll see this hanging on the wall and ask what it’s about. Well then I can explain Maori tradition, Maori art and create conversations about it.” This flax isn’t just any old flax from the bottom of the garden either – Pru had to travel a considerable distance from her home to find that perfect strong fibre content, and that was the easy part! It then took her two months to put her weaving together. “It’s about doing the practice, doing the hours.”

Up and coming artist, James Wall, whakairo (carving) that was 14 weeks in the making. He started with a piece of wood and has slowly chiseled away, creating a stunning end piece. Each carving presented in the exhibition represents a waka and two gods, depending on the artist’s iwi. Maori art is cleverly full of hidden meanings and spiritual beliefs that are left to be discovered by everyone else. Each line and mark carved into the wood means something. “I wanted to do this because I wanted to get back into my culture,” says James. However, he’s not shy to admit there were a few times things weren’t going to plan, causing a little tension between him and the slab of wood. Seeing the outcome though makes it all worth it. “I think Maori art should be shown to the world, these artworks are something I hold dear.” James is already planning for the future – “I want to try do a bit of contemporary art and maybe even a teaching paper.”

From everything on display in this exhibition, you can see there’s a lot of heart and emotion involved in the art. The spirit behind it, the feelings they evoke, the history… these artworks represent the artists’ family, heritage and who they are. For these students, who they are is all about where they’re from, and their art allows them to express and honour their ancestral knowledge.

The exhibition is open until the 1st October 2015 between 9am – 3pm Monday to Thursday at 32 Ngata Street, Palmerston North. Go check it out and discover a world of Maori culture.


Little Space, Big Heart

The White Room Co has recently popped up in the arts scene and already it’s making a big splash.

When the team at Jumprope, a marketing and design agency, were first presented with the idea of becoming part of the Palmerston North City Council’s Placemaking Initiative, they were excited to bring some new ideas to the table.

Brendan and GregInspired by the already successful spaces that had been established around the city, they wanted to come up with a concept that would transform the corner of Fitzherbert Avenue and College Street into a new and engaging spot that people from all around Manawatu would be proud of.

Utilising unused space in the former Volume 1 book store, what started as a pop-up gallery concept soon became a much bigger collaborative project between the team at Jumprope, Greg Wilson Photography and the building’s owners Michelle and John van Lienen.

With the view to developing a space that not only enhanced the street appeal but was functional and gave back to the community, The White Room Co was created to give emerging artists a platform from which to exhibit and sell their work in a market that they might not otherwise have access to.

The White Room Co has also developed resources and networks that allow each new artist to host an opening event and run an exhibition

As existing galleries around the region have greater barriers to entry, The White Room Co wanted to provide artists with a space that they could help to build, share and be proud of.

The concept of ‘collaboration’ was the key factor in forming The White Room Co and was at the forefront of the minds of the team as they began to build a place that allowed emerging talent to grow. The artists wanting to exhibit have embraced this idea and their friends, families and the local community have all welcomed the chance to pitch in too by helping with everything from hanging exhibits and organising opening events to gallery maintenance and, of course, spreading the word.

Looking inDesigned specifically to be a blank canvas, the group agreed to donate the capital needed and the building underwent renovations to shape it into an industrial-style, light-filled environment suitable for any kind of art.

More than just offering a nice space, The White Room Co has also developed resources and networks that allow each new artist to host an opening event and run an exhibition for between two and four weeks, with added support from the team to help make sure that their time in the gallery is worthwhile and fulfilling.

The White Room Co charges a small commission to cover the costs of running the gallery and invites artists of all backgrounds and disciplines to submit brief portfolios for selection and scheduling.


Snippets from Issue 6


MTB K LoopIn the past decade Arapuke Forest Park has been swamped with the sweat of bikers chipping away dirt for the park’s trail development.

The Manawatu Mountain Bike Club has been working with the Palmerston North City Council to develop a network of mountain bike trails called the K-Loop at the Kahuterawa Outdoor Recreational Area. “Our goal is to create some reasonable off-road riding opportunities around Manawatu, where there has traditionally been only a few,” says club representative Bill Russell.

Today the park has fifteen kilometres of bike tracks catering to all experience levels. Beginners get to enjoy a relaxed ride while advanced mountain bikers can pursue the downhill runs with thrilling jumps and drops. “On a good ride I should feel scared somewhere along the journey,” says club member Russell Brebner.

The tracks have been made possible because of the persistence and hard work of club members. “Lots of man and woman labour is required to turn the trails into something that’s fun and ride-able,” says Russell. The club organises occasional working bees to really crack into the project, and receives support from the Palmerston North City Council, Trail Fund NZ, Horizons Regional Council, Ground Effect and the Eastern and Central Community Trust.

Owing to forest harvesting, access to the park has been limited recently to weekends and trail development has been delayed. “The great news is that the loggers should be out of there by the end of April,” says Bill. “Next season onwards is going to be really exciting because we’re going to have a much bigger playground to do the design.” It’s anticipated that when the trail building is complete twenty-five kilometres of trails will be available to enthusiasts.

Arapuke Forest Park isn’t just full of the daredevils you’d imagine. “We’re building something that caters to everyone from six-year-olds to the advanced riders at the other end of the spectrum,” Russell explains. “In the past three years I’ve seen people I never thought I’d see riding on that hill, from families to groups of ladies.”

Park access is through Kahuterawa Road (advanced trails) or Scotts Road.


Little LibraryThere has been a new feature added to the Rose Garden at Palmerston North’s Victoria Esplanade. In memory of book lover Joyce Scott, her friends and family have erected a Little Free Library. Joyce, who passed away last year, wanted everyone to know the joy that comes from getting lost in a good book.

The Little Free Library is a box full of books where everyone is welcome to pick up a book and bring back another. This library is currently one of only four in New Zealand and is a part of a global initiative, with libraries around the world all registered and tracked at

Alida Parker, a friend of Joyce, recalls how often they would talk of setting up a Little Free Library near Joyce’s home. The Esplanade became home to the Little Free Library as it was a special place for Joyce. “She loved to be surrounded by the roses and sometimes we would both take a book down and enjoy the place and the sun.”

The City Council installed the Little Free Library in the Rose Garden, and the family have plans to install another on Massey University campus. “We are extending the Little Free Library to other parts of New Zealand, that’s the beauty of it.”


Cheeeeeeese!!!In the hustle and bustle of the Feilding Farmers’ Market, award-winning cheese-maker Adrian Walcroft can be found at the Cartwheel Creamery stall.

Adrian has an impressive resume, having been awarded the title of Champion Home Crafted Cheese-maker at the 2012 New Zealand Cuisine Champions of Cheese awards. His Pohangina Blue cheese was also a winner, earning gold at the event. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him as animated as he was with the success of those awards,” Adrian’s wife Jill explains. “They’re very justly deserved.”

The couple started producing their artisan goods for market in September last year. To pick their favourite cheese is like “choosing a favourite child!”. A popular choice is the aptly named Coppermine, a washed-rind cheese with coppery tones, named after the creek running through the Ruahines. “It’s really tasty and we’re enjoying people discovering it and liking it as much as we do.”

The Walcrofts are excited about making their gold-winning blue cheese for customers once a culturing room is available. “It might be our new favourite!” Plum and quince pastes derived from their Pohangina Valley orchard are also soon to accompany their goods at the market, enriching the cheese tasting experience.

Tastings at the gate on Sundays 1-4pm.

James, hard at work

Open Sky Office

James Stewart is the man with the plan, and as the new Federated Farmers’ Manawatu-Rangitikei Provincial President he is determined to lead his community and get New Zealanders back in touch with their farming roots.

James in the milking shed“I was tapped on the shoulder,” laughs James when discussing his selection as Federated Farmers’ newest Provincial President. “I’ve always been very passionate about the agricultural sector, having been a farmer my whole life. I was brought up on a farm, and had been in my own business for about twenty years when I got to the point where I had a little bit more time to get out in the wider industry, rather than just being on a farm.”

This wealth of experience more than proved that he was fit for the job, and James is now one of the youngest elected presidents to date, a representative of the younger generation of farmers who are now coming into their own. “The biggest qualification I need is to be a real farmer, and know the issues for farmers and represent them.”

I’ve got the best air conditioning in the country. When I talk about my office I’m talking about my farm. My office is green paddocks and a wide, open sky

James is not one to leave things up to others, and already he is making his own mark on how things are done. “When I took on this role I think my big catchphrase was engagement. I want to engage with my farmers, so that farmers get real value from what we are doing. Farmers want to farm the land and the stock. That’s why they wanted to farm. They don’t want to deal with the political stuff. That’s what we are trying to help with. We are the voice of farmers.”

WindmillEven more vital than interacting with farmers is James’ driving focus on reuniting the rural and urban communities. “I enjoy talking to urban people, going to town groups, schools, Lions Clubs, Probus. Just getting out and talking, and sharing our story, what we are doing in New Zealand and the challenges we have.

“Our country has become very urbanised; only about fourteen per cent of the population are living rurally. People are seeing less and less of farms. What I want to do is give them the chance and that’s part of the Manawatu Farm Days we are launching. Open the gate. Come and have a look. If people don’t understand what we are doing we have to show them.”

I want to engage with my farmers, so that farmers get real value from what we are doing. Farmers want to farm the land and the stock

He is also hoping to encourage other young farmers, and help those considering this field of work understand the work that is involved on a farm. “One day you can be a vet, other days you’re a plumber, and some days you’re an accountant running a business. There are a lot of different challenges that give a lot of variety.

Tractor“Farming has always been a bit of a lifestyle and that’s what probably got me into it, the lifestyle it encompasses. I’ve often said, ‘I’ve got the best air conditioning in the country.’ When I talk about my office I’m talking about my farm. My office is green paddocks and a wide, open sky. You’ve got plenty of room and space, fresh air. There is nothing better getting up in the morning and watching the sun come up. It’s just great to be out and free.”

Tom's pad

Tom Shannon

A heart for future generations – Tom Shannon is connecting people and ideas.

High up on the hill, Tom Shannon has always had a perspective from above. It would be easy for him to separate himself from the world below, but Tom is devoted to his home, the Manawatu Region. “It’s home in the broader picture of the region,” says Tom. “My family came from different parts, I married into different parts. My roots move deep in the town of Shannon, south of Palmerston North, which bears the name of my grandfather’s grandfather. I am the eldest son’s eldest son’s eldest son!”

Tom at homeAs Tom puts it, “I was raised as a dog on the Tararua hills.” It was this upbringing that made Tom fall in love with the region, and despite studying down south and spending a year traipsing the globe, his love brought him back as a family man. With the children now grown, Tom is making a name for himself as the man working quietly away building relationships and getting things done.

It was a desire to leave something for future generations and the community that encouraged Tom to bring local parties together to create positive change. “In a previous career I was a sharebroker, and as a sharebroker you’re in the middle. I think that the business of brokering understanding is why I came out here. I left sharebroking because I didn’t like the conversation, and I left it with the view that there was more security in knowing and getting on with your neighbours than there was in a number on a piece of paper. I had been trying to foster conversations with authorities and the community as part of a river liaison committee, and I was getting frustrated with that, with how authorities engaged with communities and how communities engaged with authorities. The drive is in me, and I wonder why sometimes, but I wanted to see if I couldn’t champion a conversation in my community. I was trying to broker understanding.

I don’t think we need more research to do things, we just need to apply what we know

“In terms of what’s motivated me to put myself up there, to stand up and say things and encourage others to go past themselves – it’s a lot to do with wanting to live in a place that is peaceful and harmonious. We can’t escape, we can’t get out of this place, so that’s where our limitations lie, in the social dimension and communicating. I don’t think we need more research to do things, we just need to apply what we know.”

Entrance to the Manawatu GorgeOne of the most notable initiatives is the Manawatu Gorge Biodiversity Project that Tom was instrumental in getting off the ground. This brought together Crown representatives, three iwi and a number of other important local participants, ranging from local government to community groups, businesses and individuals all working in a collective and equal partnership. This group has led the charge to improve, preserve and highlight Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge, to great success. Visitor numbers to the area are increasing dramatically year on year, with more activities and attractions available, and more organisations getting involved.

“The dream for the place out here was established and agreed pretty easily, pretty quickly. We all appreciated how deeply it could go. It was in my mind that we could all work together without ownership changing, to create an environment that the region and the district could be proud of, and that as individual landowners we might also be better off. The mix of organisations and people out here was very diverse, and as that grew with time it became clear to me that there was no project out here without iwi. Not token iwi, because everyone can see through that, it had to be genuine involvement.

My roots move deep in the town of Shannon, south of Palmerston North, which bears the name of my grandfather’s grandfather

“It did occur to me that at different times we might have said, ‘This is too hard’, but there was no project at all if we couldn’t break through it. So it was persistence – there are a couple of us in the group who are persistent! From the government there was also support, because they had a responsibility and a role too.”

What a view!The persistence has paid off, and the relationships in the group have been strengthened over regular cups of Tom’s favourite ‘gumboot tea’. However, despite the fantastic success that Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge has experiencing so far, Tom is realistic about the challenges and what is necessary to prosper. “I feel very proud of what has been achieved, but like any relationship you can take none of it for granted. Partnership is only as good as the last conversation,” laughs Tom. “I think in the past few years I’ve become an organisational psychologist!

“I’ve listened to many sides of things, and there is this sense that being vulnerable and being yourself are what people are drawn to. It’s also important to protect oneself, to keep oneself safe, and that’s what I am learning now. To be in that place and stand and call others up, it really has to be a blank page. No clever tricks. ‘No shit, no kidding’, as someone once said to me. I am learning to do that myself, and that’s part of the personal journey.”

Order your dream salad here!

The Green House Effect

Rolling up their sleeves after months of work, six passionate ladies have opened the doors of their new adventure. The new salad bar known as ‘The Green House’ reflects the idea of ‘eat well, live well’ and in the few months since its opening it has become an iconic spot, with people lining up in the streets to escape fast food.

Salad“We needed to do something for ourselves,” says Gill Yorke, the manager. “The girls talked about setting up a mobile salad and smoothie van, but we decided that was too much hassle, so instead we planned on moving to The Square in Palmerston North.” Along with Gill, Emily Blanchett and Lucy Gertsgraser share ownership in the bar, while their friends Kate Bryant, Chloe Hes and Emma Hintz are the passionate workers.

For many the name The Green House will be familiar thanks to social media, with its Facebook page experiencing a meteoric rise before the shop had even opened. “Emily, Lucy and Chloe do most of the Facebook and Instragram stuff, they know so many people because they all grew up here. All their friends shared the page and it just spread. I think we put ourselves on Facebook on the Tuesday and we thought, ‘Oh we will have 500 likes by Friday’. We had 2,000 likes over two weeks before we even opened. Social media is just insane.”

People are starting to realise that what you put in is what you get out. It’s all about food. You have only one body and one life, you might as well look after it.

The shop itself has been as successful as its Facebook page, with crowds of customers every lunchtime. Gill believes that people are welcoming an opportunity to make better choices with their diets. “Slow change has been coming in the last couple of years, and people are getting sick of unhealthy takeaways,” says Gill. “People are starting to realise that what you put in is what you get out. It’s all about food. You only have one body and one life, you might as well look after it.”

Welcome!Popular with their visitors, and adding to the “simple and natural” approach, is the lack of strange or pretentious names for their food. “Lots of people comment on us not having funny names! One person commented on the smoothies, making sure we had got all the ‘right’ colours.” For Gill, her favourite salad has gone from The Caesar to The Thai Beef, with the Green No.1 smoothie going down smoothly as a lunchtime dessert.

“We are also trying to do everything locally. All our products are from Riverlea, Davis Trading and Preston’s Master Butchers. We are local, we like to use local produce and have a sense of community. I think it’s quite nice to have that these days, it’s nice to have local involvement.”

Not a group to rest on their laurels, the ladies are already pondering the future. “We are looking into the possibilities of franchising, to see what’s involved and how to do it and that’s quite exciting. At the moment it is great for the girls, they are only twenty-two and having their own business and that experience is huge. If we can grow it that way that will be pretty cool.”

We had 2,000 likes over two weeks before we even opened. Social media is just insane.

Mount Maunganui, Wellington and Napier are at the top of their list for potential franchise locations, but there are a few ideas farther from home as well. “The Greek island, Santorini, we’d like to do! That would be the dream, to open up one in Santorini. North Carolina in America is another, one lady said she wanted one in America. But we will start with New Zealand!”

Dr Dave Baldwin

The Flying Doctor

“My great strength is that I ended up a doctor by accident; it wasn’t until I was nineteen or twenty that I had any concept of what I wanted to do.”

The Flying Doctor, Dave Baldwin, has been in the business for more than twenty years now and certainly has no intention of slowing down any time soon. With a medical centre, the Healthy Bastards campaign, the Bulls Flying Doctor Service and his Aerospace Research Centre Dave is kept on his toes, with no two days ever the same.

KnowledgeBrought up north of Porirua in a little fishing village, in his youth Dave wasn’t really one for study. “My mother has always been a big influence in my life, and she always cried when I saw her because she wanted me to be the big family hope. So after a year and a half of truck driving and possum hunting I made a deal with her. ‘If you stop bawling I’ll go back and get my Bachelor of Science, but after that I want to be a deer culler’, and she agreed.”

Dave could see the wisdom in his mother’s eyes. “I wasn’t dumb, I just wasn’t focused. Once I got going I started to get A grades. So when people asked what I wanted to do with my life they thought I was joking when I said a deer culler. Then I thought about being a doctor, it sounded like a good job with good pay.”

You begin to realise that a lot of people dying are dying early because of self-neglect.

After his Bachelor of Science Dave went on to do eight years of study to qualify as a doctor and began training as a cardiologist at Palmerston North Hospital. However, the jets flying overhead proved distracting, so Dave joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force, becoming a Skyhawk pilot and medical officer. It was there that he developed his expertise in aviation medicine. After three years he left the RNZAF to own and run the medical centre in the nearby town of Bulls.

“General practice was the first start to my career, but the spark was whether it was possible to tie in the mountains and possibly flying. I met an old doctor at a conference whose job it was to be a GP doing house calls in his boat. I thought, ‘Hey bro, that’s me!’.

Loving the job“Every pilot needs a medical to fly and the validity of it depends on whether you have a commercial or private licence and how old you are. A private pilot under forty’s medical lasts five years whereas a commercial pilot over forty needs to be renewed every six months.”

Dave began to build up his clientele by recording pilots’ expiry dates on a computer recall system. “A month before they were due I would ring them saying your medical is due, do you want to do it with us? Now after twenty-five years they all do.”

For three weeks every month Dave is flying high, in and out of his base at Palmerston North Airport. “The first week it is down the West Coast to Milford Sound then across to Wanaka and Mount Cook. The second I am in the Motueka, Nelson area and the third week I fly to Blenheim and the Marlborough area. I might do twelve pilot medicals on the airstrip then shoot out to a farm to do some more. But it’s all part of the dream.”

The other major ‘mission in life’ for Dave is his politically incorrect ‘Healthy Bastards’ campaign. It first began fifteen years ago and today Dave tours the country talking about how men can best manage their health.

I met an old doctor at a conference whose job it was to be a GP doing house calls in his boat. I thought, ‘Hey bro, that’s me!’

“I was working away at the general practice and got to really like the people I was seeing, but they all start dying on you. In one week I lost five patients and it starts to get to you a bit. You begin to realise that a lot of people dying are dying early because of self-neglect. I see eighty-year-old commercial pilots and think of the potential in human beings.

“I got a lot of flak for it in the days, I even had some lawsuits on my hands. But people have cottoned on that I am just trying to get to the group who aren’t listening. At least I’m trying to talk in their terms.”

Following on from the success of a best-selling book and entertaining DVD and YouTube clips for Healthy Bastards, Dave was approached by three television companies to do a series, which he turned down. “It just typified to me what happens to so many creative minds in this country. You sign a contract where someone owns you and you’re lost. So I told them where to go. I feel I’m stronger now because I’m not watering down my messages. If people don’t like it they can take a hike, because I know I can speak with honesty.”

Science and artFor Dave the success of his self-funded campaign is all about raising the profile and drawing people in. “When I say ‘bastards’ people actually love that. Sir Edmund Hillary said it at the top of Mount Everest and as soon as you say it the profile of that name is lifted. It is about getting people thinking and raising awareness of the fact that the greatest gift is your body, so take care of it.”

Spare time is unheard of for Doctor Dave, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. “Some people in life work to live, I live to work. I love what I do.

“The key thing is to develop a dream. Whatever it is, if the dream doesn’t scare you then don’t do it, it’s a waste of time. Then within that it is important to keep it close to your chest. People are pretty quick at knocking things, so just chug away because even if you don’t succeed another door will open.”