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Arpége Taratoa

Where are you from? He uri tēnei nō Tauranga Moana, nō Te Tau ihu, Ngā Puhi, me Ngāti Raukawa ki Ōtaki. I was born in Hamilton and raised in Palmerston North, however, I whakapapa to all of the best beaches in New Zealand! On my mum’s side I am from Whangape up north, and Nelson down south, and on my dad’s side I am from Ōtaki and Tauranga.

Where do you live now? I currently live in Ōmokoroa, a small rural beach suburb just out of Tauranga. It is fast developing though and feeling very suburban, so we are looking to shift somewhere more rural!

Tell us about your life in small-town Aotearoa. I didn’t grow up in small-town Aotearoa, though Palmerston North did have that sort of vibe to it. I left there when I was twenty-one for the Big Smoke, aka Auckland, and as most big cities are, it was a complete rat race. Coming ‘home’ to Tauranga, and moving out to Ōmokoroa has been a near dream come true (still not quite rural enough thanks to all the developments!). I always wanted to have a semi-rural lifestyle, that kind of home where it’s away from the city, but a stone’s throw in case I felt like a bit of socialisation; working from home; lots of family time and outdoors activities … but obviously has to be close to the beach. Ocean dwelling is in my whakapapa and nowhere makes me feel more settled and alive. Thankfully, the Bay of Plenty is a beautiful place that has an array of options when it comes to rural-meets-beach-life. I do feel like we live in paradise!

What is your favourite meal? I’m not very good at picking favourites – there are too many options. I love most Asian food that doesn’t come with meat. I am obsessed with the cuisine, mainly Vietnamese and Taiwanese. Beautiful dishes, a bit of heat and fresh flavours – can’t beat it!

What do you do for ‘me time’? Depends how long I have. I try to fit some me time into each day, so it’s usually a little meditation and yoga in the morning. But if I have more time, I like to go op shopping, have a coffee, go to the Mount and do a walk or something outdoors. Recently though, I’ve tried to do a hobby I haven’t done in a long time once a week, just to get in touch with my inner child again.

How would your friends or family describe you? Adventurous, ambitious, always trying something new, always doing something unexpected, ‘hippy’, and my favorite one: ‘a moon child’.

What is your favourite section of Shepherdess, and what do you love about it? Rural weddings! I am a sucker for a wedding. As much as I have a real love/hate relationship with the whole concept of marriage and weddings, I think in another life I would’ve loved to have been a wedding planner. We have such a beautiful landscape here in Aotearoa, so I love seeing what people come up with for their special day.

What makes you excited or proud to work for Shepherdess? I absolutely love the core focus and vision of Shepherdess. I think women have amazing and interesting stories to tell, and I love that Shepherdess puts the spotlight on the ‘real Kiwi’ places of Aotearoa.

What is something readers would be surprised to know about you? I am part Chinese. Just before my great grandmother passed (when I was sixteen), she told us (her family) that her father was Chinese, but it was kept a secret. In order to have a relationship with him, she worked in the Ōtaki gardens where he worked.

The Shepherdess team all work remotely. Tell us a bit about your ‘work from home’ set-up. I did a little DIY project on an old-school writers’ desk recently because I love the idea of being able to shut work away from my home life. I painted it a gorgeous forest green to match the plants, and the day bed next to it gets all-day sun. My very needy Springer Spaniel x Huntaway pup likes to lie there under the window, and sometimes I will have incense burning. In the morning before school, my five-year-old son sometimes joins me for meditation and yoga in the office. My partner also works from home so we will enjoy a hot cuppa and lunch together at midday. I do feel rather blessed.