BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

Our world turned upside down when COVID-19 hit. Life as we knew it came grinding to a halt. And the impact of it will be felt for a long time yet. But not all of the impact has been bad. For many it has shown how strong we are as communities. And more than ever, it has pushed for a shift to #supportlocal. As my way of supporting my own community bubble, I reached out to local businesses to see how the COVID Lockdown has impacted them. And in the process I discovered so many amazing people, with some fantastic businesses, all right here in our backyard. And I would like to introduce them all in this new series of Behind Closed Doors- The Blueskin Bay edition.

Contact information for these businesses and many more can be found on the Bays’ newest online directory, Blueskin Bay Online, www.blueskinonline.co.nz

His & Hers Catering, Warrington

“Our business is basically made up of just us, Sheena & Mat the chefs and adding our kick ass call in wait staff when needed. We set up our catering company as we saw a need in the Otago market for a bespoke style caterer who creates your menu with you. We converted our garage at home into our prep kitchen and can not wait till we can pay Max (our 2yr old) to do the dishes! Lockdown was tough to start as it has been for everyone. In the days leading up to level 4 we had our busiest month to date turned into the longest time we have both not been in a commercial kitchen, which lead to a lot if fun family meals and amazing family time. We have moved with the new normal by bringing new creations to our local communities doorstep, which is a new thing for us, but super excited to introduce this new way to our business. We now offer a weekly menu, delivered to locals doorsteps or picked up from our kitchen in Warrington.
The sense of community spirit is amazing out here, we are so lucky!”
– Mat & Sheena, His & Hers Catering.

 

Check Electric, Warrington

“We started Check Electric Ltd 18 months ago after finishing at Macraes as an underground shift sparky. We do residential and commercial electrical works. Repairs, alterations, additions, new builds and switchboard upgrades. Lockdown put a halt to all our business. We had a couple of calls in level 4 but nothing that was deemed urgent or essential. We are now back to offering all services on level 3, with COVID protocols in place. Contact tracing, paperwork, and cleaning tools and work areas. It’s really up to customers if they are happy to have us in their bubble. I really enjoy meeting the people of the area. Lots of good folks out there with good stories. It makes us feel closer to the community”.
– Reece Check, Check Electric Ltd.

 

Salt & Sugar General Store, Karitane

“Our little Salt & Sugar General Store is the beating heart of Karitane. In summer the little busy shop is functioning as a cafè and pizza restaurant as well. In the off season the shop slows down, our cafe and pizza are on winter break and the whole village gets more quiet and sleepy. For some locals that is usually the time when they enjoy shopping with us even more, as there is often time for a chat and a good coffee which is still available. In general we cater everything which is essential (groceries, barista coffee, pies, little presents, petrol…) with a strong emphasis on low-waste, local, organic/spray free, homemade and an even stronger focus on keeping prices low with our bulk food and non food products. We are very glad to have had the opportunity to stay open during level 4. It was good, and important, to give people who were unable to travel the opportunity to shop nearby. And to make this awkward and unpleasant lockdown situation as pleasant and happy as possible. We had a few laughs with customer which was good for them and for us. But it would be a lie to say it was easy. In the first weeks it was just our family operating the store, homeschooling, and with suppliers unable to deliver, it was exhausting. Business has slowed but packing and delivering orders keeps us busy. We have had great support from regular and new customers. One neighbour built stairs and fixed rain shade by our “Plan B” window where we currently serve customers from. Not only is this a wonderful place to live with our family, but we have found here everyone can jist be who they want to be, and we love that about the kiwi lifestyle. We were so happy to get to know some very lovely people in our neighbourhood.”
– Thomas & Nico, Salt & Sugar General Store, Karitane.

 

Anderson Fencing, Waitati

“I started Anderson Fencing with my wife Tonelle just over 6 months ago. We wanted to have a business that fitted around our family, while allowing me to do something that I am passionate about and apply my skills and knowledge in a way that works best for our clients. We currently employ 4 staff who have a variety of skills from fencing, welding, truck and digger driving. These skills, along with the tools and machines we have, allow us to diversify out projects- from rural fencing all the way to residential fencing, gates, retaining, landscaping and excavation. Lockdown has been tough as we were only just starting to get on top of the costs involved in starting a new business. However, time away from the tools has given us some time to reflect on our first months as business owners. We have put new plans in place to make our business run more productively for us, our staff, and our clients. We are excited to get back on the tools especially the rural fencing, with farming being an important prime industry its nice to be able to support them. We love that theres a huge variety of projects right here where we are based, and that we can support and help our community build, maintain and improve their properties.”
– Trent Anderson, Anderson Fencing Ltd.

 

The Wool Store & More, Waikouaiti

“The Wool Store & More is a local goods and business hub, selling products on behalf of local producers as well as processing and selling fibre from our own farm. We love to stock ethically produced, high quality, locally made products. Within the office we also have an office for casual hire and a room that can be booked for massages. Lockdown life saw the shop doors close and nobody worked on the wool for a month. Our international and local tourists are gone and locals are staying at home. Like many businesses I am grateful for the wage subsidy that meant people could go into lockdown with some financial security. I have continued working in my Business Consultancy/Tax Agency (Leave It To Me Ltd) helping people access help and making sure of compliance with lockdown operations. In level 3 the shop reopened in part for non contact sales and a new window display shows people what we can offer in store without physically coming in. We will begin to process wool again, getting the stockpile in the back room turned into gorgeous alpaca & wool yarns. The north coast area is full of people who want to look after our environment and who love to support local business. We have a lot of fascinating people making gorgeous things, working out how to improve the environment and looking out for the wellbeing of local people.”
– Sandy Price, The Wool Store & More, Waikouaiti.

 

Leanne Black, Ray White Real Estate Waikouaiti

“I am Leanne Black, and I am a real estate agent working as a sole trader for Ray White. I help people achieve their goals in all things real estate- buying or selling. Ray White is a family owned business that I am proud to be part of. Having 3 children myself, the backbones of a good company is important to me. Lockdown life has impacted business hugely. It went to a standstill as we closed the doors. Financially it was a scary time for a lot of people. The one advantage meant I could spend extra time on calls reaching out to people, checking in with people, getting to know my community better, and learning about new businesses in the area has been great. Work has resumed but it has changed. We no longer have open homes and private viewings are kept to a strict 2 person maximum per day, with strict health and safety measures in place. I can offer a free comprehensive market appraisal on your property (at no obligation), which has been popular with people curious as to how COVID19 has impacted their house value. I’m also available to talk through any questions and have a chat. I can offer market reviews if you are buying, or just curious to know sales stats in the area. If you are hoping to buy I can help with new listings, lawyers, mortage brokers or maintenance staff. My job is to do all the work so you don’t have to! I love working in this area. The landscape, the people and the location are lovely. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country”
-Leanne Black, Ray White Real Estate, Waikouaiti.

 

Holt Marine Surveying, Karitane

“People often ask what we do. Every commercial operating boat needs a Certificate of Survey (like a complicated WOF). We inspect every inch of a boat from structural, engineering, safety and navigation to ensure every boat goes out to sea with the best possible safety. We report to Maritime New Zealand, and although we work independently we are governed by their requirements. Brendan does the engineering/structural stuff and Rowan does Safety, Navigation and the admin paperwork. Lockdown life has been a bit of a mix with the fishing industry already hit at the start of the year when exports to China stopped. Many of our clients were very worried. We were immediately classed as essential but we had to wait for guidelines from MNZ on how to operate. So we decided to lockdown and catch up on some jobs around the house while we were waiting. When level 3 was announced we got a flood of enquiries which meant 5 inspections between Port Chalmers and Bluff. Our work is like the tides, ebbs and flows. Sometimes nothing then suddenly a lot! As we work alone, level 3 has been normal workwise. We just ensure boat has been vacant 24hrs and we follow the usual washing procedures. We live in Karitane, but most of our work is in Careys Bay as its one of the only slipways available in the lower south Island. Our favourite thing is talking to the operators, skippers and fishermen about life on the sea and the history of the boats. Some incredible characters and stories.”
– Brendan & Rowan Holt, HOLT Marine Surveying, Karitane.

 

Harvery Street Merchant, Waitati

“Harvey Street Merchant is a boutique delicatessen and grocer. We took the time to handpick our all of our brands so we could compliment the other surrounding businesses in the village, and I feel very proud that we have achieved that. We have a fabulous selection of delicious local, regional and NZ fresh produce and products. We had to shutdown in level 4 which was really hard and upsetting. However we feel extremely lucky to have been able to offer contactless online or phone orders. We were still able to offer our fresh breads, veges and fruit milk, evansdale and whitestone cheese, plus all of our other delicious brands and goodies. Matt and I have thoroughly loved meeting with all of the locals from our wonderful community. Its been so lovely to see everyones faces again”.
Mel, Harvey Street Merchant, Waitati.

 

Wild Az Catering, Evansdale

“We at Wild Az Catering have been based in the bay for just over 6yrs. We are a food truck that does everything from work functions, weddings, parties to large music or community events. We love to get involved with a wide variety of functions and definately enjoy our time parked up at @arcbrewingco . Lockdown for us has been extremely weird, much like it has been for most people out there! We have come off one of our busiest years to now being very quiet as most of our large events have been cancelled. This being said, its been a great chance to catch up on jobs around the farm! Since level 3 we have been trading at Arc Brewery in Evansdale, feeding the hungry locals wanting a good feed after lockdown. Our favourite part of being in the Blueskin community is the melting pot of people it gives us the opportunity to interact with. We love the support they give us when they can, and we enjoy their custom and the good chats and banter that come with it.”
Sam Pickford, Wild Az Catering, Evansdale.

 

Cargill Contracting. Evansdale

“We (George & Bronwyn) bought the business and started operating in February 2002. We started off with one digger, one truck and a watertank. Since then we have grown and now have a varied range of machines. None of this growth would’ve been achieved without our amazing staff and the support we receive from the community. And its because of this that we like to support local community projects. Being in lockdown meant that we were unable to work except for essential work, which was our water deliveries and urgent Council work. We are happy that we are now able to offer all services again- we have a range of diggers, trucks, a bulldozer, a grader and gravel supplies. We love living in the bay because of the people.”
– George & Bronwyn Terry, Cargill Contracting, Evansdale.

 

Angela Port Celebrant, Karitane

“I’m the creative director, owner, chief coffee drinker and celebrant at Angela Port Celebrant. I’m a lover of shoes, cheese and love in all its fabulous forms. I’ve been a celebrant since 2013, and in that time I have been blessed enough to marry the bejesus out of 162 amazing couples. The best thing about this ‘job’ is that each couple interprets a wedding completely differently, based on whats important to them. In level 4 we couldn’t do any weddings. But level 3 & 2 have seen the rules relax a little and enabled us to perform smaller celebrations (under 10 people). The pandemic arrived at the end of my “wedding season”, with 8 weddings still to go, and all have been postponed. I’m heartbroken for those couples who feel uncertainty over their options, their dreams, and not to mention the money they may have lost due to changing plans. I am still getting enquiries though, and can marry smaller wedding parties. I have such a great love for this area because of all the amazing people that live in our little slice of paradise. And I love being able to network and collaborate with some very talented wedding vendors based in the Blueskin Bay area amongst this beautiful landscape.”
Angela Port, Celebrant, Karitane

 

Victor Brown Electrical, Orokonui

“We are a tight knit, family owned team of 6 at Victor Brown Electrical. We are proud to have a long history in the greater Dunedin area, our origins stretch back to 1937. Paul (the current owner) took the reins from his Dad in 2014, who had successfully run the company since 1977. We specialise in all builds, solar, heat pumps, ventilation systems and EV charging to name a few. Lockdown meant basically shutting down operations, with only a handful of essential work call outs. Like it was for most it was an unsettling time, and it shifts your focus and definately highlights the need to support local. It gave us time to catch up on paperwork for our apprentices, and the government subsidy was great and meant we were able to get back to work with all of our existing staff. We are now able to offer all services, and as members of the Masters Electricians we have had guidance to put together procedures and protocols to operate safely. We love it here, its such a beautiful place. It’s a great community and we have definitely started to get more work locally. Its been great getting to know our neighbors and community. There is no shortage of good people on this side of the hill.”
– Emma, Paul, Tilly & Frank Maxwell, Victor Brown Electrical.

 

The Firewood King, Karitane

“We are a local family business. We came up with the name because the guys at work called me the firewood king so that was it, The Firewood King Ltd. We have been doing firewood for the best of 25yrs plus. I love meeting so many lovely people and stopping and having a chat spinning a yarn. Level 4 & 3 were tough times keeping up with the demands. The bay is a lovely area, and great views to be seen.”
– Danny King, The Firewood King Ltd, Karitane.

 

Roadside Attraction, Waitati

“For more than 20yrs we have been designing clothing and supplying a couple of chain stores throughout NZ. We have also had a couple of retail outlets, although we are now semi retired and working from home. We fill orders after they ate placed online as well as supplying “The Wool Store & More” in Waikouaiti. We welcome all enquiries and can tweak garments from our range for local customers. We also handprint cushions, tea towels and tshirts. The major impact of lockdown was the temporary closure of “The Woolstore & More”, and being unable to access our outworkers. Our online stores are accessible and customers are welcome to contact us via text message, email, facebook or through the website. No voice calls please as I am deaf. The best thing about living in the bay is seeing so many people wearing our clothes, some for years as they are made to last. Thanks for your support guys, we really appreciate it.”
– Hilary Rowley & Alex Wilson, Roadside Attraction, Waitati.

 

Matanaka Meats, Hawksbury Village

“Ian Kennedy & I ran a busy butchery and retail shop in Palmerston from 2008, we both loved the amazing people who popped in to chat about anything and everything. Ian was very passionate about what our customers were eating so made the finest, healthiest small goods possible. Ian won a lot of awards for his quality recipes which we continue to use to this day. The butchery became too small as business grew so in 2015 we moved to Hawksbury Village. We are mainly a home processing butchery, busy with a great bunch of hunters and farmers dropping off meat to be processed into bacon, hams, sausages and salami’s etc. We were able to continue operations during lockdown, supplying Salt & Sugar Store in Karitane, as well as some home deliveries, and will continue to do so as we move through the levels. Sadly on May 24th 2019 Ian passed away, not long after a rare melanoma diagnosis. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our loyal staff, family, friends, customers and the whole community for your overwhelming love and continued support over this very difficult year. It gives Ruby & I the strength to carry on and continue Ian’s legacy.”
– Rochelle & Ruby, Matanaka Meats, Hawksbury Village.

 

Custom Fencing, Waikouaiti

“Custom Fencing started in 2011. We specialize in rural and lifestyle fencing, retaining walls, yards and fencing maintenance, wooden paling and coloursteel fencing. Over the last 2yrs we have been able to add building to our services as well as taking on jobs of house renovations, and buding pole sheds with our registered builder. Lockdown for us was about 85% shutdown, although we had a few jobs we were able to continue with to keep stock safe from the roads. Much like every other business 5wks off was a financial strain. We are back to work now at 100% with lots of extra paperwork and hand sanitiser! My favourite part of doing business in Blueskin Bay is definately the people. Having been born and bred in Waitati it has been amazing to see the place grow into the awesome community it is today.”
– Nick Terry, Custom Fencing, Waikouaiti.

 

The Carpet Chemist, Waitati

“The Carpet Chemist specialises in carpet dyeing, cleaning and drying services. We are a husband and wife team who love to meet new people. We get a real buzz out of transforming our clients homes, from both a visual and a health perspective. Carpet dyeing allows our customers to update their colour or restore faded colours, as well as allowing us to fix permanent stains and colour loss. Lockdown saw us reducing our services to flood, mould and bio-hazard cleaning only. Now in level 3 we are able to return to carpet dyeing and general carpet cleaning, with increased health measures to keep our community safe. Since moving to Blueskin Bay over 2yrs ago, we have had the privilege to meet many new customers. We both grew up in Central Otago and have dreamed of getting back to the country. The air is cleaner, the people are great and the wildlife and scenery is amazing. It felt like home straight away!”
– Peter & Wendy Clinch, The Carpet Chemist, Waitati.

 

Blueskin Nursery & Cafe, Waitati

“We are a family business started by Mark & Clare Brown in the early 80’s. We have evolved over the last 30 plus years from a growing nursery to having 2 sites in Waitati. A production nursery, and in late ’88 the garden centre centre opened, with the cafe opening 11yrs ago. Our garden centre has everything gardening, a cafe with everything baked fresh onsite, and now St Brigids Church available for events and catering. Lockdown life was tough with the huge loss of income and uncertainty of maintaining all our staff through the economic downturn which may follow. Although we have all enjoyed the slower pace of life and some time with family and in our own gardens. We love the community support we have in Blueskin Bay. The majority of our staff live in the area which is great. We are a family business, so all of our loyal staff and customers have become a huge part of our business family.”
– Sally & Clare Brown, Blueskin Nursery & Cafe.

 

Yoga with Tess, Waitati

“I started teaching yoga in Warrington in July 2019. Our small, friendly group come together once a week for an hour to explore some shapes and movements, taking deep breaths as we go. It is honestly one of my favourite classes to teach. There’s very little ‘ego’ in the room and regardless of flexibility, age or yoga experience, everyone gives it a go. We all arrive from different days but somehow we all feel much the same in the end, calm, relaxed and with a bit more space in the body & mind. I also run yoga classes and workshops in Dunedin. Lockdown meant that I was unable to teach students in a studio setting. Thankfully, I teach at 2 fantastic studios in town that took the initiative to start running online classes through zoom. I was initially skeptical as I prefer the company of others during class, but it has been really successful and we have had people joining in from all around the world! At level 2 I am teaching a mixture of online and physically led classes observing the rules with social distancing and contact tracing. My Warrington classes will start again soon. I love how friendly everyone is in The Bay. I havent lived here long but the community has really welcomed me in, they’ve been encouraging and helpful. I am so grateful, they have made me feel welcome.”
– Tessa, Yoga with Tess

 

Evansdale Cheese, Hawksbury Village

“Two great things to come out of 1977- Star Wars, and of course Evansdale Cheese. We are the same family that started it today ss we were then. It has been one of the great things in my life to be able to spend extended time with my family, we have shared many experiences and a LOT of delicious cheeses. Lockdown has been very tough for us as we lost 80% of our business overnight, all distributors, all cafes, all restaurants, our shop closed and the many tourists who visit us are no longer around. Thankfully in Level 3 we were able to send online all around NZ, as well as being able to deliver to your door if you lived locally all while respecting social distancing and safety. I first moved to Evansdale when I was 3yrs old, and being part of this district has been such a wonderful experience. I’ve seen many come and go from the area, but the support and loyalty we have received from the people in the area is amazing, and a wonderful testament to the caring community we live in. I am so grateful to have you as clients, and as friends. I sincerely thank you.”
– Pablo, Lesley & Colleen Dennison, Evansdale Cheese, Hawksbury Village.

 

Arc Brewing Co., Evansdale

“Arc Brewing Co opened at the tail end of December 2018 by us, Jono & Emma. We set out 2yrs earlier to undertake the fit out and rejuvenation of the old Blueskin Hotel, over weekends and any spare time outside our day jobs. From the early days it has been an exercise in utilising my building skills and Emma’s design skills to create an environment that both inspires us and is welcoming and enjoyable to our customers. Since opening we have held on for dear life and loved every minute, meeting and getting to know all our lovely locals has made this journey so much more fun and fulfilling. Its also been great working with a variety of local and Dunedin based food trucks and musicians. Lockdown has been bitter sweet, heavily impacting our cashflow that would’ve seen us through the quieter winter months that the hospitality industry dreads. On a side note, it was a chance to step away from the brewery and spend more time as a family with our 2yr old, Charlie. Time which we truly cherished. We were closed during level 3 & 4, only able to offer weekly deliveries. Level 2 has been somewhat of a stepping stone return back to normality, but we are able to open the taproom doors again which is great. The food trucks are back and we have a steadier stream of beer available for takeaway. And some new beers coming in level 1 so watch this space! Our favourite part about business in the bay is 100% the people. Its a great community and we love seeing everyone here in the weekends, willing to have a yarn and a laugh. It makes our job truly enjoyable.”
– Jono & Emma Walker, Arc Brewing Co, Evansdale.

 

Blueskin General Store, Waitati

“Brent and I bought the business in 2003 approximately 9 months after the fuel tanks were removed. We weren’t able to get the fuel reinstated so we focused on improving the range of stock and services to support the Bay community. Lockdown was a fast evolving situation for everybody in NZ and at the 11th hour I found out the shop was an essential service and we could stay open. The next 4wks were a challenge trying to get stock in a country struggling to keep up the supply of many items. I would like to say a big thankyou to all of my staff for their hard work and to all of the hard working suppliers that bent over backwards to get stock to myself and to the other businesses that were open. I would also like to say a big thank you to all of our customers that supported us during this time. Undoubtedly the best part about living in the bay is the scenic beauty, and all the wonderful people that make it such a strong community.”
– Heather Bell, Blueskin General Store, Waitati

 

The Constant Gardener, Warrington

“We set up the Constant Gardener in Wanaka, after I had been working for a tree company in Queenstown. I love books and reading and when Vee asked me what I would do after finishing up work, I replied “I suppose I will be constantly in a garden somewhere”. So we named it after the John Le Carre book “The Constant Gardener”. As soon as we hit level 4 it was tools down, but I have been so lucky in regards to local people of our community contacting me to book me in for help with garden or hedge work as soon as I was able. I couldnt offer services in level 4 so instead I kept myself busy by using my old vocation as a personal trainer, and posted workout plans to my local boxing club. I cant choose a favourite part about living in the Blueskin Bay area. From the beautiful neighbours you meet, to being able to work in such a beautiful part of the world. I feel extremely lucky and privileged to be part of our community in some way”.
– Jaime, The Constant Gardener, Warrington.

 

Mopanui Studio Homes, Waitati

“We started the business just over 6yrs ago. I had to look that up and it came as a bit of a shock, time flies. Initially it was just myself and Lee, who is still here… he must be due some sort of an award. It has slowly evolved and we now have 6 of us, and some loyal subcontracters. We specialise in building smaller, high quality homes and studios. We work with a draftsman, so we can offer our own plans, or work with clients to develop their ideas. Our emphasis being on doing things to a high standard while being realistic about costs. Lockdown obviously slowed things down a lot, but it also meant that things backed up and consents came through, so now on the other side we are busier than ever. The real impact for us will be seen in 9-12 months once we have worked through our current load. It was nice to have the break and spend time with the kids and work on unfinished projects. Of course I started a few others so now we have twice as many unfinished projects at home but it pays not to dwell on these things 🤣. We can now currently offer a full drafting service from design to consent, build and completion, including all sub trades. We also have our own houses we import from Europe. These are a high quality solid timber home with uPVC German windows and doors, engineered and designed by us. We also have small cabins for sale or rent. And with the new rules regarding unconsented buildings, we will be offering more designs for buildings up to 30m². My favourite part about doing business in Blueskin Bay is the people. At the end of the day, its about people. The people we work with are awesome, the staff and the clients. We are so lucky to live in such a diverse community, where people work together and help and support one another.”
– Dan Monckton, Mopanui Studio Homes, Waitati.

 

Do you have a story that you would like captured and shared? Get in touch today and let’s talk about it.