Dunbar Estates owners Jennifer and John Dunbar, originally from Christchurch, currently living in Dunedin and hoping to semi-retire to the Tasman area, took over the Ngatimoti vineyard and café in October 2017. They are not new to vineyards having developed Shine Basin vineyard near Cromwell from a farm paddock purchased in 2000.
John has worked in Dunedin since 1993 as an orthopaedic surgeon with subspecialty interest in paediatric orthopaedics. Prior to commencing medical school he completed an agricultural science degree at Lincoln University and has always had a deep love of the land and the natural world around us. Jennifer is a piano teacher, choir accompanist and chorister. Her background was in sales and marketing before devoting a large segment of her life, with John’s help, to bringing up the couple’s two sons Andrew and Nicholas. Jennifer’s family have holidayed at Kaiteriteri every summer for the past 50 years or more and been joined by the Dunbar family since the two boys were babies in the early 1990’s. The Motueka Valley west bank has been one of John’s favourite cycle routes for years. The opportunity to purchase the Ngatimoti property on the east bank of the Motueka River offered the chance to amalgamate much of the couple’s background in life at a time when exiting the orthopaedic world was starting to loom.
The practice of medicine is about relationships with people. There are times when medicine or surgery are helpful but there are many times when people simply need help to recognise their own potential to assist them to adapt to their life circumstances. Wine is remarkably similar. It has its own story, just as do people. Wine is about relationships between people, but it also goes beyond that to relationships between people and the land.
The flavour and quality of the grapes reflect the terroir, i.e. the local micro climate, the nature of the soil and the way the land lies to the sun, and the care and attention applied to the grapes by the vigneron. The wine itself reflects all these things but to them is added the skill of the winemaker. We then drink the wine in circumstances usually related to cementing relationships amongst friends and family. The Dunbar Estates property at Ngatimoti occupies a beautiful, peaceful rural location. When you come to taste the wine or maybe just to enjoy a coffee and some simple elegant food, the owners invite you, not only to enjoy the wine and company, but to reflect on the interaction with the natural world around you. If possible, by arrangement, ask about taking a walk to the back of the property to enjoy the view, the tranquillity and serenity of the site.
The owners are very conscious of their role as kaitiaki (guardians) of the land. Their goal is to enhance the land so that all can enjoy it now and encourage future generations to respect and care for the land. They hope you enjoy your visit as much as the pleasure the Dunbars take from being able to share with you their vision.
Why we should plant a Totara tree
Maori mythology describes in the beginning how Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatuanuku, the earth mother, lay together in a close embrace. They gave birth to several gods including Tane, god of the forest. The offspring were confined to the darkness between their parents until, largely lead by Tane who lay on his back and pushed with arms and legs, they were able to separate the sky from the earth.
Forest trees, known as Tane – mahuta hold the sky aloft, bringing light into the world. Tane, god of the forest, nourished by the earth (Papatuanuku) brought the baskets of knowledge, wisdom and understanding down from the sky (Ranginui) to human beings.
Different trees symbolize different qualities. The totara is symbolic of chieftainship. The totara trunk stands strong and straight and its wood is very durable. It will withstand the tests of time and hardship whilst continuing to symbolize the passage of knowledge, wisdom and understanding.
Now, more than ever, we need to be strong and enduring. We need to apply wisdom and understanding to evaluate a new set of priorities and relish the opportunity to reshape some of our societal structure in a more enduring and sustainable way.
Plant a totara seedling in a pot, your garden or anywhere you can watch it grow. Nourish it to help it grow strong and straight and it will flourish. Watch your tree grow and it will help you remain strong and resilient and be a continuing reminder of the need for knowledge to see beyond limited horizons, understanding to see how we can contribute to change for the better and wisdom to help us make the right choices.