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Tessa King

Where are you from? Auckland.

Where do you live now? Palm Beach, Waiheke Island.

Tell us about your life in small-town Aotearoa. Waiheke is technically part of Auckland, but at times can feel like a world away. Visitors to the island usually don’t venture much beyond the main centre and don’t realise that more than half of the island is still undeveloped bush and farmland. Living here, you could choose to take the 40-minute ferry across to the city every day and live a ‘city life’ (and many people do, commuting for work) but many people here go for months – even years! – without leaving the island. I love being part of our island community. I have made a tight-knit group of friends and we see each other every week, usually more than once – I didn’t have that in the city, where everyone lived just a bit too far away to see each other terribly regularly. Any opportunity we can, we meet for picnics at the beach, where our island kids run wild. People here smile and chat in the street whether you know them or not and there’s a real sense of small-town camaraderie.

What is your favourite meal? I love the Italian way of eating – big shared platters of delicious abundance from the land and sea, fresh hero ingredients prepared with reverence and respect. I recently had an Italian-themed dinner party for my fortieth birthday, where all my friends got dressed up a little bit fancy and brought a plate to share. It was an incredible spread.

What do you do for ‘me time’? Solo walks on the beach, or swims – there’s nothing like swimming in the sea unencumbered by the clinging arms of a toddler! Yoga barre classes taught by a friend. The ultimate luxury for me is uninterrupted reading time – a good book or home/garden/architecture/food magazine.

How would your friends or family describe you? ‘Passionate, caring, protective’, according to my husband. For my big birthday recently, a thoughtful friend passed around a little pink notebook for everyone to write a message in. It was overwhelmingly lovely, kind of like reading a eulogy about yourself without having to die first! The word ‘calm’ popped up a lot – I often feel anything but, but apparently that’s the vibe I give off. (The image of a duck – calm on the surface but paddling frantically beneath – comes to mind . . .). It was really special, and I dip into the book whenever I’m in need of a pick-me-up – and I now think every big birthday should involve a little pink book.

What makes you excited or proud to work for Shepherdess? I love the fact that the magazine is giving voice to women who might otherwise go unnoticed by those outside their immediate circles. Women have a tendency to solider on, rarely singing their own praises, so it’s lovely to have a place that shines a spotlight on these incredible wāhine doing quietly amazing things.

The Shepherdess team all work remotely. Tell us a bit about your ‘work from home’ set-up. I work mainly from the kitchen table, overlooking the native bush valley, out to sea. In fact the view can be so distracted that I built myself a wee office in the unused space under the stairs, painting it blush pink and getting my husband to sand down a cute little desk I found at the local op shop that happened to fit the tiny space exactly. I’ve used it about twice, preferring to be distracted upstairs. Sometimes with a warm pup lying on my foot, and sometimes with a toddler drawing (and chattering) next to me.