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    Jewellery NZ | Rinopai Designer Notebook Blog | Redmanuka

    Rainy Day at Parapara

    Rainy Day at Parapara

    What is it that unites me to the world around me?

    If I close my eyes and just quieten down and feel some emptiness , what is it that comes to mind?

    Small flowers, song of a bellbird, the whistle of the wind, call of the weka.

    It is raining today, with the patter of rain on the tin roof , it is a time for the land to drink its full. If it rains for too long, it will become drunk on the deluge and start to disgorge itself, the unpredictable chaos that is the Taniwha, ‘Kia Waka Ruaki’ will come to life and thrash its tail. I am respectful of its power over me. On a number of occasions I have had lucky escapes from its clutches.

    Back into the stillness, a little quieter and simpler. I notice the cherry blossom , my thoughts drift to the pururi flowers scattered on the branches. Drops of rain spilling from the pink and yellow petals.

    I wonder why is it that I only make flowers? I gave in many years ago, and as much as I try and break out, it still holds me. It comes so easy to mind and I sit comfortable with it in my hand.

    I wish I could think of a bigger picture, get to grips with some emotional turmoil, political activism, some real world issue. Break some philosophical ground with new design. These are all parts of my makeup and feature strongly in my thoughts, drive my feelings.

    Still in this quieter moment, it is the flowers of the bush, the chirping of the excited cicada’s in summer, the buzz of the industrious honey bees, the slow walk of the new stick insects, the tuneful squawk of the small bellbird that drift on by.

    Probably I have lived too long in the wilds, on the edge of this forest. Tane keeps trying to reclaim me and draw me back into the wild realm. But I cannot survive in its realness. The forest will win when I have little strength left to resist.

    My small house on the edge of the forest will harbour me till then, and I will sit and think of drops of rain spilling from the pink and yellow pururi flowers on this rainy day at Parapara.   

    16th September 2016

    Jewellery NZ | Rainy day at Parapara | Redmanuka

    Dynamic Web Marketeer Required

    Dynamic Web Marketeer Required


    Dynamic Web Marketeer Required

    My brain is just starting to go into marketing overload. I am watching videos of presentations on all aspects of how to make my site achieve this goal or that goal. It all makes sense but…..

    It is no easy feat getting this web shop to surf the wild web to financial freedom.

    All this marketing lingo is the opposite of being a jewellery designer. I want to dream of new sculptures of new ideas that excite my feeling of making new things. Guess there is a relationship of sorts in that both require creative solutions.

    From the start getting my site to work relies on the presumption that I have visitors on my site.

    www. redmanuka.co.nz

    And this it seems is where the issue lies. How do I move my site into the downtown internet super highway?

    How do I appeal and sell more to all my great customers? Entice new visitors to spend their hard earned cash. One thing for sure as I ramble my way through all this stuff…I am too busy trying to work out how to get others to spend theirs. Maybe that is the issue. I should pay someone else to do this for me. I did try this and paid quite a sum for a job done so poorly that not one sale resulted. The good thing is that such a poor result meant the marketing agency have stopped calling me to try and sell me more impossible deals. How could the overpaid folks at whatever they were called be so terrible at their profession, that even I, a jewellery artist, can do better web marketing. So I seem to have pulled the short straw to get on with the job.

    I can do it, I know I can. It builds new brain cells, learning all these million and one ways to entice the hard earned cash from visitors plastic cards.

    Okay step one.

    Evaluate what I have to offer. Value proposition.

    I seem to have a good base of jewellery designs. Manufactured to a high quality, our price is good. Pictures are good. Website looks crisp and ready for action… yes it is ready to go.

    Step two.


    Another day and maybe a dozen visitors on the site. Sure is quiet for all the work. Maybe I need to wear a sandwich board, or better still get Google to hold it for me. Yes, costs some dollars. I will try it.  Google, Facebook, they spend my money, send some visitors to my site. Funny how they always manage to find enough web surfers to visit to gain the daily budget. I pay discreetly to a foreign bank in Ireland. No foreign currency trading fees I notice. How offshore is this bank?

    A few more visits, a Sale.

    It works!!

    There is definitely an increase in business since i started on the web. I spend quite a bit of time at it and it is starting to produce some small gain. Still I wonder how much gain I would make if my efforts are spent working on new design, new ideas.

    It is a funny thing how really artists have to be a bit crazy. A bit blindfolded. Maybe it is a requirement, to block out the world, to survive on little, ignore the bank balance, and just be in the moment of creative impulse. What the heck, so what if it all falls over.

    Calm down, maybe the next piece of work will be the winner.

    If only it was so easy. It seems I need to find the balance.

    Dynamic jewellery artist, website designer, photographic maestro, photoshop machine, social media evangelist, analytics wizard, adwords aficionado.

    Well there is still the garden to dig and dinner to cook. The dogs need a walk, I need a walk and of course still this blog to write. m:)

    Rinopai Parapara Open Easter Weekend

    Rinopai Parapara Open Easter Weekend

    Rinopai Parapara Valley road golden bay contemporary jewellery and paintings

    We are open this Easter Weekend. If you are lucky enough to be in Golden Bay this weekend and are cruising the galleries that Golden Bay has to offer then come on by. We have survived the rain storm ok . Three hours on the shovel has the ford looking great and our driveway up the hill is in fine condition. The valley road is a little rough so travel slowly. 

    Rinopai Parapara Golden Bay contemporary jewellery and paintings, ford on driveway

    Considering the amount of water that was flooding through here just a couple of days ago, our ford has stood up to the rain. It is a fine art to keep the ford stable and thankfully ours is doing fine. 

    Stop in and see our neighbors at Anathoth Pottery. Well worth a visit. 

    See you this weekend , open 10am till 5pm 

    Made in N.Z

    Made in NZ

    I’ve always been a ‘do it yourself’ type of guy. I colonised my spot on the Rinopai hillside, living in a tiny shed isolated up in the bush. Slowly I built my life. My garden, workshop, gallery and then our house. For our house we dug the clay dirt from the hillside and made it into bricks which we used to build a large part of our house. Its a number 8 approach to things that I love. I always seem to have a need to try and do things using stuff around the place. It sort of is ingrained.

    The same has applied to my jewellery practice. It was really hard to teach me anything. I was frustratingly confident that I could sort things out. It meant I made heaps of bad jewellery pieces as i tried to work out techniques. It probably meant it took me three times longer to make any progress. Out of all this though the positive has been that I developed my own way of doing things in my workshop, and over the years this has streamlined to my current processes. I enjoy working things out and mostly seem to get to the desired end.

    When I first started looking at jewellery in the 1980’s , there seemed to be so much from Bali and India. Amazingly good work and so affordable.  Probably being in my late teens I was only seeing a certain strata of jewellery available. So I became early on determined to make pieces that were obviously from here. I wanted young people to wear jewellery that related to our cultures, that spoke of experience of this environment. And I wanted it affordable so that price was not a big barrier. Those first years in mid to late nineties , I worked really hard and sold almost everything I could make.  It was of course bad business as my profits were so tiny that our small family, frith, willow and myself, were so poor that we earned less than what we could have been paid on the benefit. But I was determined to carry on. I was proud to have the work ‘Made In N.Z.’, to be making and selling my own work.

    Now two decades on the marketplace has changed. There is now a total flood of good jewellery being made locally. The polytechs have been doing such a good job of training budding jewellers that we are flooded with choice. It is a market that is totally due to the support of the men and women of our land , who have linked their own identity with fashion and jewellery from here. They like to buy and support local craft artists. Together we have built a small industry based around a  unique type of style which is such an asset.

    This market growth has not gone unnoticed by the big players in the Jewellery industry. They could see opportunity for revenue. So they play hardball. They commission New Zealand designers and celebrities to put their name and style to a design range. This should be a good thing, create some genuine employment for all these well trained, artistically astute makers. But no, they are on about profit. So this work is manufactured in Thailand or Indonesia, where the very capable locals are paid a tiny wage in order to maximise the profits back in N.Z. Shipped back to N.Z, it is cleverly marketed as N.Z work. It is not all promoted as ‘Made in N.Z’ but some is. It has N.Z style, it has an N.Z designers name,.  With the prominent advertising and marketing hype and deep pockets of these big companies it is really hard for new zealand consumers to even tell the difference. The downwards effect of this has been that it is almost impossible for N.Z based workshops to compete and stay in business. A dire position indeed that has seen many makers exit the marketplace.

    So I have been confronted with the option to have my work made in a third world country where the wages are a tenth at best of local wages. Makes business sense, my business advisor would recommend it. However I am a maker, I like making my designs. Running my workshop is what I like to do, so I employ an assistant and I pay her a fair wage. We enjoy the collaborative process that marks our work. We are proud to label our work ‘Made in N.Z.’ and hope that our customers appreciate it as well. It is vital if the local Arts and Crafts are to evolve, progress and flourish that this notion continues to matters to the buyers of our jewellery. :)

    A Weka on the track

    There was a dead Weka on the track yesterday. I didn't spot it at first but I did notice the flies buzzing about.

    For so many years my backyard has been a little sleepy hollow. The people movements being outnumbered by the wild pigs and other wildlife, some opossum, rats, plenty of bird life.

    This has changed recently. Firstly a couple of likely locals spent a year patiently building a mountain bike track down the manuka scrub hillside, to provide another route for their sunday bike rides. Then local  legendary anarchist, dick nichols retired from his longtime Milnethorpe revegetation project and moved up the end of the Parapara valley. Dick lives for the bush, he finds a piece of mind in wandering the hills on various projects and in the process cuts with his slasher, tracks which meander through the bush. You would be amazed at the seemingly effortless way at which his slasher will cut through two inches of native wood. He places the offcuts to the sides, cuts wee steps where needed and slowly, methodically builds tracks. He has no expectation of others using the tracks , it's all about here and now with Dick. He became interested in my backyard, which is the northern edge of the Kahurangi National park, as part of his fascination with the early colonial industrial developments on Mt Rinopai here at Parapara

    They were an intrepid bunch, the early colonialists  in the district. They burnt the hillsides of Mt Rinopai, and using basic machinery,horses and a heap of hand power, digging  watercourses, build tracks, tunnel into the hillsides, in their quest to find minerals to assist in building the new colonial outpost. At first gold, then iron ore. This all ended in the 1930’s and the wilderness reclaimed its territory. All the hand dug watercourses , the stacked rows of boulders along the creeks, the tunnels with names carved into the inner walls, were reclaimed by the forest. The weta inhabit the tunnels, Moreport guard the entrances, Manuka covers the land, the reeds takeover the dams. A few scraps of cut totara posts, a block of old concrete, some sheets of iron, lie in the bush. So Dick has taken it on as a project to open up the old tracks. As part of this Dick set about re-establishing the Washbourne dam and so I now have a large body of water on my back boundary.  

    So back to the weka on the track. When I first arrived, twenty eight years ago, the weka were still plentiful but already in decline from a decade earlier . Then suddenly they just disappeared and for over a decade maybe even two the weka were not seen in our neighbourhood. It was not just here. All around the top of the South Island and further afield the numbers of these birds rapidly declined. Eventually it was determined that it was a virus which had swept through the population and so it remained for most of two decades. Slowly they have returned in recent years. First I sighted a pair about seven years ago over in the deep bush and they have moved closer and closer as their numbers increased. The nights are again filled with the searching calls of the males. My vege garden is ravaged if not protected. They love freshly dug soil, so I have learnt to dig and leave the soil for a few days then to plant, or they will come at night and pull all the plants out of the ground. They really are a pain to live with. But I love the Weka. Last week I saw a weka roadkill. Another sign that the numbers are again getting back to pre epidemic amounts. So a dead  weka on the track is probably a dog . With all the increased walking traffic due to Dicks tracks, martins mountain bike tracks, it is inevitable that dogs will come along.  Dick reckons that dogs can't catch weka. I doubt that opinion, I've seen it , but the Weka are good at escaping. No one probably really cares, but I do. We have dogs and it could be ours , but we were away with our dogs when this happened and we have trained the dogs to not chase the weka , but how do you know? I love the weka, their wild eyes, beautiful brown patterned feathers, their status as a bird of the forest of Tane! What can I do? Erect a sign to say ' beware weka crossing !' , dogs must wear muzzles? I don't know. It is the national park and dogs are not allowed without a permit ! We have dogs and we walk most days In the kahurangi national park. I do not know the answers but info feel a tinge of sadness. I continue to set my line of rat and stoat traps and this line has now lengthened due to the new tracks. I plan to plant Kahikatea around the area of the Lake and look to add to the large numbers of young Rimu and Miro which are evident in the hills.

    So things are changing in my backyard and it will be interesting to see what these changes bring. Hopefully access to the bush encourages more people to value conservation of our national asset which is the Kahurangi National Park. Hopefully a pair of Blue Ducks may come and visit the new lake.