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Rural women and olive oil – what a great mix!

Media release
For immediate release
10 April 2015

Rural women and olive oil – what a great mix! And it all came about over a cup of coffee

Where to house the new community olive press was the big topic of conversation when Gendie Somerville-Ryan, President of Awana Rural Women on Great Barrier Island, met Carol and Trevor Rendle of Barrier Olive Growers Ltd for coffee. Awana Rural Women, a branch of Rural Women NZ, owns its own premises – a hall and a garage. The garage was undergoing a major upgrade and would make the perfect place for the olive press. All it took was a cup of coffee and a chat and the olive press had a new home.

“Awana Rural Women activities encourage community cooperation and development and what better way to demonstrate this than to help promote economic growth through horticulture,” said Mrs Somerville-Ryan. “Our facilities are centrally located, of a high standard and well-known around Great Barrier Island. Housing the olive press is very much in line with our philosophy of helping the community to help itself through education, personal development and building community capacity. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

The community olive press was officially opened by Hon Nikki Kaye, MP for Great Barrier (and Auckland Central). Hon Ms Kaye acknowledged the perseverance and hard work of everyone involved in getting this project not only off the ground but up and running. “The reason this cooperative approach has worked on the Barrier is that so many people contribute. The olive press is important for economic reasons – it gives people another option to stay on the Island,” said Hon Nikki Kaye. “Awana Rural Women have been the backbone of the community and it is fitting they have been part of this project.”

A recent survey showed that there were over 600 olive trees already fruiting on Great Barrier Island but developing an industry from the olives is impractical when the fruit has to be shipped off Island for pressing. Barrier Olive Growers has purchased the press and growers will be able to press their fruit for a nominal charge – hopefully kick-starting an olive oil “export” industry for the Barrier.

Awana Rural Women can see a great future for Barrier olive oil, from an olive oil festival to an olive picking and pressing experience. However, the first step is to get the 2015 vintage harvested and pressed – and enjoyed by those on the Barrier and beyond.


Ends

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