We knew pretty early on that we wanted to name our wine TIKI, in honour of Royce’s great-great-grandfather, Ngati Uenuku Chieftain, Tiki Tere Mihi. But there’s a bit more to our story that took place before the name was born...
At the start of the new millenium, with our two young daugthers in tow, we spent 3 years living and working as ski bums in the Craigieburn Range of New Zealand, good years and great memories but little in the way of money.
Eventually, after we dreamed of earning a grub stake to start a business of our own in NZ, we decided to try our luck overseas and packed up our bags and headed to Europe for the next 5 years, working and travelling through Europe and North America.
Eventually the pull of home got too strong and we decided our next adventure would be to pack in the jobs, pack up the kids and move back to New Zealand. Our girls were at school and we really wanted to give them the same amazing upbringing full of adventure and freedom that we both had growing up in New Zealand.
We settled in the beautiful seaside village of Sumner, Christchurch not far from some of Royce’s family. Moving home was pretty amazing, having kids we could really appreciate the slower pace of life, easy access to the outdoors and nature, and that feeling of freedom you get from living a long way away from the rest of the world.
We were looking for something to do, and after a year at home we found an old 325 hectares sheep farm in Waipara that we fell in love with. Turns out that it was perfectly suited to growing grapes. The years of working overseas helped to prepare us for understanding the financial requirements for setting up and running a vineyard but that still didn’t make it easy to get the project off the ground - we were green behind the ears, with limited funds and no track record to speak of in grapes or wine. Not the ideal way to kick off a long term investment like a vineyard, but we decided this would be our next adventure and we dove into it, boots and all.
We knew employing amazing people to help us out would be key, and we set about getting a great team together which we now call the Tiki Whanau (family).
We started small by planting only 60 hectares of the new vineyard in Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris vines in 2005. Small we say, but this is still more than 130,000 plants that needed to be planted and watered and trained in quite a limited amount of time. It was thousands of posts and miles of irrigation line and fruiting wires that needed to be fitted, checked, run and maintained.
We learnt a lot that first year - what to do and what not to do - and our passion just grew stronger, and our amazing Tiki whanau (family) kept on growing and evolving. We had a very busy year ahead preparing the land for the next stage, and planting the rest of the vineyard, all 260 hectares of it. When you see a fully developed vineyard you can sometimes forget how much work goes into preparing the soil, putting in the posts, digging wells and planting the vines and then the years of tending those vines before you harvest your first grapes.
By the end of 2006 the Waiata Vineyard in Waipara was fully planted and we’d found some more vineyard land in the undeveloped Upper Wairau Valley that we thought showed some real promise. We decided to expand into Marlborough and over the next few years we kept busy developing the new Marlborough sites so that in 2009 we finally got to taste the fruit of our labour with the release of our first vintage of 2009 Tiki Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough.
We are an indigenous NZ wine producer that is committed to sustainable winegrowing and to working with the environment without compromising quality. We care for our vines under the guiding Maori principles of Kaitiakitanga: guardianship, protection and preservation of the earth.
The TIKI is a hand carved Maori treasure which, when gifted, bestows good fortune and love on others. We craft our wines with the same spirit in mind. Tiki started from very humble beginnings and we certainly have never forgotten how lucky we are to do what we do in such a beautiful place. That sense of adventure and feeling of freedom that we get from living in New Zealand, have never left us and is at the very heart of Tiki and the bespoke wines that we produce.
Royce and Sue Mckean
Founders of Tiki Wine