Thursday, May 17, 2018

Tauranga Arts Festival

Escape! to the great outdoors

A perfume from Saudi Arabia that evoked the country’s landscape crystallised a business idea for Tauranga couple Serena and Harold Jones – using scent to create a unique sense of place.

The result is Queenstown Natural Perfumiers, which debuted its collection last year. “Our natural environment is New Zealand’s true luxury. It’s totally amazing and often undervalued,” says Serena Jones, who has studied botany and horticulture.

“Queenstown Lakes is among New Zealand’s finest landscapes so we sought to find and express the region’s essential scents.”

After 2 years of research and development involving professional perfumiers in New Zealand and France, the keen trampers and bush walkers released four scents – Mountain Herbs, Wilderness Berries, Lakeland Flora and High Country Tussock.

The perfumes will be available to sample at the Escape! festival in Tauranga early next month as part of Scents of a Landscape on Sunday, June 3 with Harold Jones, who is also a poet (AUP New Poets 4), and award-winning novelist Laurence Fearnley, discussing the power of scent to enhance feeling, awareness and memory.

Fearnley – who has been ‘scent mapping’ her Dunedin neighbourhood for 2 years – also tutors a workshop in writing “beyond the visual” on Saturday, June 2. She is working on a book of essays on scent and a novel structured like a perfume with top notes, heart notes and base notes.

Also exploring the outdoors at Escape! is Geoff Chapple who will take his audience from Cape Reinga to Bluff across the 3000km Te Araroa Walkway of New Zealand on Friday, June 1.

Chapple, who took up the project when it became clear local authorities would not, began mapping the North Island trail, talking to every council and DoC conservancy on the route but in 1997 decided the only way to whip up interest was to walk the trail and write as he went, using the new-fangled internet and so becoming one of this country’s first bloggers.

His first national interview took place near Whangarei with Radio NZ’s Kim Hill. “Listeners could hear a mad old woman cursing me – I only had one hand on the cellphone for most of the interview in case I had to fend her off.” Blog views went into the thousands.

“I was just about a vagabond,” Chapple recalls, “sleeping in public toilets on wet nights. My family and I were made very poor by that 5-month tramp and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my wife [Miriam Beatson].”

A $30,000 grant in 2002 enabled him to design and walk the South Island trail – “and I suddenly had a credit card that worked”.

Te Araroa Walkway of New Zealand officially opened on December 3, 2011 with Chapple’s guidebook published at the same time. After standing down as the trust’s chief executive in 2012, Chapple received an ONZM.

Escape! festival is in Tauranga from June 1-4. See the full programme at

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