Hero photograph
A happier time for our Wild Dunedin committee in December at our final meeting for 2019 at Ribbonwood Nurseries. 
Photo by Gregor Richardson, Otago Daily Times

Wild Dunedin Team at Home

Wild Dunedin —

Our festival has been postponed to 2021 and we are all self isolating in our bubbles. I would like to introduce you to some of the team and find out how they are occupying themselves while in lockdown...and without a festival.

As festival co-ordinator I have found myself for the first time in five years able to enjoy an autumn on our property at Portobello (usually I'm real busy promoting the festival).

"We have an ancient hawthorn hedgerow and this time of year its haw collection time to make jelly, sauce and vinegar...a marvellous medicinal plant." Jeannie Hayden — Image by: Jeannie Hayden

I am in my bubble with my husband Peter and our son Francis (who got out of Australia just in time).  I realise I am really fortunate to have space and plenty to occupy my days with 50 acres of regenerating forest and food producing plants.  

Neil Harraway is our festival convenor (he was the one who came up with the idea of a festival in the first place) and also represents one of the festival partners, Monarch Wildlife Cruises.

Neil enjoying the chance to be home in his Otago Peninsula garden.  — Image by: Neil Harraway

"Lucky I have a big garden to plant and weed and prune and landscape and rake ... and enjoy!  So good to immerse in it, breathe it, watch its autumn changes and be kept company by the busy fantails (Pīwakawaka)."  
Neil Harraway

Suzanne Middleton is our publicist writing many of the stories in this publication, and is a terrific organiser. This year was to be her third Wild Dunedin festival. 

And is another keen gardener! Suzanne is a generous baker and the team always looks forward to her signature shortbread at meetings. — Image by: Suzanne Middleton
"I’m loving autumn in isolation. I stockpiled seaweed and stable manure to make industrial quantities of compost, plus various vegetable seeds. I’ve set up a bed for seedlings under Mikroclima, and planted snow peas in the glasshouse. Korimako, Pīwakawaka, Tūī,  Tauhou and Riroriro have returned to my garden and the bottlebrush is covered in bees. My big question is whether the tamarillos on the deck will ripen." 
Suzanne Middleton

Phil Bishop is our only professor on the committee representing our festival partner the University of Otago.  He contributes great ideas, a lot of knowledge and humour to our meetings. As a Professor of Zoology, Phil is one of the lucky ones who is ‘working from home’, teaching and running his research lab of post-grad students using Zoom.  Phil now organises our committee meetings through Zoom.

Phil Bishop here with his conservation frog-dog Holly! He's standing where his green house will be by the end of lockdown...at least that's what he's promising his wife Debbie. — Image by: Debbie Bishop
“I originally had some leave booked over this time to show some overseas friends around Central Otago, but now I’m using my leave to install a greenhouse that I bought, which has been sitting in several large boxes in my garage for over a year! Luckily we can still keep up the training of the conservation frog-dog at home and we have turned our downstairs rumpus room into a frog-training area. Exercising the dog takes me outside, on local walks, and away from my home beer-brewing equipment which is working overtime!” Phil Bishop

Laura Morrison is our newest member of the team. She brings to the committee youthful energy and good insight into family life with sons Charlie and Josh.

Laura Morrison with her son Charlie who has discovered Laura's old camera and this has sparked an interest in photographing bugs and plants. — Image by: Laura Morrison

Laura is passionate about promoting resilience by growing your own food and is keen to investigate the health benefits of plants.  

"Apart from quality time with movies, games, craft projects and lots and lots of home cooking/baking, we’ve enjoyed exploring our immediate neighbourhood in Corstorphine. On our daily walks we go exploring to find very climbable trees, blackberries and elderberries to collect, unusual bugs, we call the native birds just how we learnt it at Orokonui, and we find lots of wild bears and other critters in people’s windows staying home safe!"     Laura Morrison 

Norcombe Barker is the rudder that keeps us all on course as Chair of our meetings. He keeps calm, comes up with solutions and has been involved with Wild Dunedin as long as it was an idea. Norcombe also represents our festival partner Larnach Castle.

Norcombe at home with his dog  — Image by: Norcombe Barker

"I am using the time in isolation to catch up on the jobs around the property, such as gorse cutting. 20 years ago it was a 2 hectare gorse paddock, now it is full of native trees. The birds are now returning and the their songs are wonderful to hear." Norcombe Barker

Katrina Thompson is a Community Ranger and represents our festival partner, the Department of Conservation, on our committee. Kat was assigned to Wild Dunedin just before the 2019 festival and has quickly become an integral part of the team . She is keen to introduce more Te Reo and Kiwi Guardian activities into the festival programme..

Katrina Thompson with her compost temple at her whānau's farm. — Image by: Katrina Thompson

"Covid-19 isolation has helped me reconnect with whenua and whānau in ways I never could have predicted. I am surrounded by native wildlife, fruit orchards, vegetable gardens, a few of my favourite people, and more and more piles of compost! I spend my days juggling DOC work, farm work, and spending time with my loved ones. Arohanui e te whānau Wild Dunedin, he waka eke noa." Katrina Thompson

Rachel Cooper represents our festival partner the Otago Museum. You know the saying "Ask a busy person, and you'll get it done"...well Rachel is that person. She has a busy job yet finds time to make a huge contribution to the success of our festival. 

"For the past few years I’ve been trialling growing my tomatoes down walls instead of up – just need a few more sunny days for these ones to ripen up …. but I’m not holding my breath on that one." Rachel   — Image by: Rachel Cooper

"Working from home over the past few weeks has made me extra grateful for my garden. It’s certainly no work of art and most days seems more of a jungle, but I’ve found that escaping into it with a cup of tea every couple of hours has been just what I needed." Rachel Cooper

Nicki Tonkin helps us out in accounting services and keeps us all on track financially.  Nothing is too much trouble for her and her sensible suggestions we all appreciate.  We are so lucky to have her onboard. 

Nicki Tonkin from business advisors PKF Bredin McCormack & Rewcastle. — Image by: Jeannie Hayden

This isolation period has allowed me to take a step back and realise how lucky I am to have family, friends and work colleagues supporting me. Working from home has been fantastic, I can enjoy a cup of tea on my balcony when it’s sunny. It is business as usual for us accountants which is keeping us busy during these times.  

It's thanks to Kerry Buchan that the first festival happened in 2016 through her experience in event management. We have given her the title 'Mother of Wild Dunedin'. Kerry brings laughter, ideas and energy into our meetings and makes everyone in the team feel good about their contribution. 

Kerry has been connecting with nature through daily walks, foraging and cycle rides. — Image by: Charlie Buchan

"Feeling very blessed to be spending my life ‘in a bubble' in Central with some of my beautiful whānau. Although missing the others and my daily fix of the sea from my window at home. Due to a variety of reasons we decided to the stay put and enjoy the colours and skies and bounty of Clyde.  Along with connecting with Mother Nature we are all very busy connecting with our work places, our amazing family, friends and work colleagues." Kerry Buchan

Kerry speaks for all the committee in this final message:

"Wild Dunedin although different this year, our message is the same. We encourage you to enjoy nature, the sea, the sky, the stars and the wildlife in your garden or your neighbourhood (mindful of social distancing). These activities will nourish and sustain us all through all our bubble time, and life as we have never known it.
Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui "  Wild Dunedin 2020

Image by: NZ Governent