My Account

Meet The Pioneers

It takes certain qualities to be a part of building a Village. Adventurous, creative, determined, resilient and visionary, are just some of the qualities that best describe the group of pioneer settlers that have already joined together to develop Kotare Village from the ground up.

Who are these people and where do they come from? What is it that motivates them to make this step into the unknown? What inspires them to be a part of Kotare Village?

We are a group of people who hold a common vision of living socially, environmentally and economically, responsible lives.

Bob & Kay

Kay and Bob PictureKay and Bob are the founders of both the Koanga Institute and Kotare Village, to read more about their stories click here.

Their wonderfully productive and abundant garden gives a working illustration of self-reliance to the new arrivals in the village offering just one example of what can be achieved in a relatively small space of time.They know a thing or two about village life and are only too willing to share their knowledge and experience with all of us in the Village.

Shaked, Tes & Gesham


Shaked brings his wealth of experience of being bought up in a Kibbutz in Israel to Kotare. A trustee of the KCLT with a keen mind and a systems thinker he enjoys the mental gymnastics of problem solving and shines a calm light on the smallest and biggest of problems.

“For me, living in Kotare Village is like designing my childhood again, it’s an opportunity to be involved in creating a new culture, a new way of life, that is a mixture of here and there, old and new, wild and structured, individual and communal, our planet and myself”

Picture of Tes and Gesham

Tes is at home in the low impact living of Kotare Village, she came as an intern, met Shaked, and together they brought Geshem into the world. Tes’s love of natural living is an inspiration to us all.

“Food is a big part of our culture here at Kotare and a big reason why I have stayed here.

I have some health issues, that seem to be common in many people and stem from eating capitalist industrial food/non food.. this place has been a safe place for me… I still struggle but in no way the same difficulty as i would if i lived in a city with no garden. Now with Gesh in my life I’m determined to provide him with the best start I can and provide him with the best quality food which is possible for me to do here at Kotare Village.”


Picture of Jenny and her son and daughter

Jenny came for a Permaculture Design Course at the Koanga Institute and decided Kotare Village was offering something that other communities weren’t and that she would like to come and make this her home. Currently living in a large house truck on her site, developing her garden, working for the Koanga Institute managing the seed sales to retail shops and preparing community meals while being involved in the wider Wairoa community.

“I am passionate about good health naturally and about the connection between the gut and the brain (GAPS). I love nutritious food – with flavour, colour and smell – all the delights of a good diet.”


Picture of Steph

After a lifetime dreaming of community she finally found it, nurturing the dream of a healing centre whilst studying Psychosynthesis counselling.

“What inspires me is the opportunity to live out my ideals; of caring for the Earth, right relating with my fellow beings and helping to be part of the solution to the worlds problems, rather than blindly following the status quo out of apathy, a sense of hopelessness or mindful ignorance.”



Picture of Melva

Melva has been involved in health and wellness almost all of her life and for around thirty years was involved in both clinical practice and the training of Naturopaths. She was a key person on many committees set up by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority to set standards for Natural and Traditional Therapies in New Zealand.

Her zest for life and passion for plants and trees is very apparent and soon after her arrival at Kotare Village she was already getting stuck in to creating her garden and planting some of the special trees that she bought with her.

“What inspires me most about living at Kotare Village at this particular point in time is to awake with the sunrise, the birds singing, and the fresh air all around, and then to step with bare feet onto the dewy green grass and give thanks for a bright new day filled with work to do!”


Picture of Carolyn

Meeting Bob and Kay on their tour of NZ in 2015 blew her mind as to the potential for nutrient dense food, when she heard there was a village, she had to check it out!

Carolyn was working as a planner with the Whakatane District Council at the time, and after visiting, decided it was time to set out on a new adventure.

“The peaceful and caring culture of Kotare Village inspires me. There is a real diversity of opinion and background among us, but we can get together and find creative solutions for everything. And its fun. There is an inclusiveness and feeling of equality amongst villagers, where everyone participates and is heard.

I am most interested in building a community of inter-connected people, and defining our identity in the wider community. I am passionate about healthy people in body, mind and spirit, and see that one day the village could develop into a wellness center, where people come for healing and time-out. In the meantime I am involved in various projects, including the water reticulation, which is well underway. Next is the building of houses.”

Carolyn’s house plans and a permit application have just gone into the council.  Hers might be the first house built (Kay and Bob’s is close behind)

Brian & Michelle

Picture of Michelle

Fresh from the beautiful Franz Josef, Michelle is bringing her passion for living sustainably and love of the great outdoors. Michelle is the bookkeeping and  seed-bank manager for the Koanga Institute.

“The most inspiring thing for me is being around like minded folks and surrounded by the support to learn and grow to make the world a better place, starting in your own corner of the world. For me it’s all about healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people with good energy to share and improve. I’m passionate about saving the world as I think every person alive needs to be part of the agenda for improvement.


Picture of Renee

Coming from Auckland, Renee is bringing a wealth of creativity and musical talents.

“I cherish the idea of being closer to the Koanga Institute and its ‘researcher’ community. Living in a community like the Kotare village is not just about of living ‘off the grid’ but rather living with in very clever and informed ways.

It is about being nurtured by the land and nurturing the land, promoting health and protecting our future.”


Picture of Glen


Glen is an experienced draughtsman, and has been self-employed in a range of activities.  He has been attracted to the ideals and practice of Permaculture, and is particularly attracted to our goals around healthy food and self-reliance.  He is currently looking after his elderly father in Auckland and visits occasionally to work on his section




Murray is renting a section in the village where he lives in his mobile home.  Murray is currently the nursery manager for the Koanga Institute, and has brought his considerable experience in nursery and landscaping to the fore.

Whitney, Benjamin & Jude Whitney started cooking early in life with ‘helping’ mum in the kitchen, licking the beaters and ‘guarding the oven’ impatiently while the biscuits bake.“Cooking for others is one of the greatest joys of my life.  Me and Ben have a dream in our heads of a future where we are living within a small community, participating in the growing of food, baking slow fermented, wholegrain breads in a traditional hearth-style oven, and contributing nutrient dense meals.  It’s a humble dream but for it to be viable we need to be surrounded by a community that values these things, a community that refuses to succumb to ‘white sliced death’.  I think it is safe to say we have found that at Kotare Village.”

From a young age Benjamin was acutely aware of the difference between a home grown carrot and whatever those tasteless orange things are that one buys in the supermarket.“My grandfather, Jack, was an avid vegetable gardener.  Some of my most cherished memories from childhood are of eating produce from his garden; the intense earthy flavour of a carrot just pulled from the ground, the fiery thrill of eating my first radish…  I now understand these to be the produce of his love and time.  His connection to eternity.  These memories still guide me to this day.  Nourishing people has become the focus of my life.  Growing food and feeding people, that’s enough for me.” Jude is their beautiful baby boy, born at the start of 2017.

Wendy and Joe

Wendy and Joe are both from South Africa, they’ve been looking for an opportunity like this for a while and enthusiastically joined up after attending a hui.  They are currently selling their house in Auckland and moving here in November. Joe has a strong background in mechanical engineering, management and farming.

Wendy has a background in IT and business consulting (solution architecture) and a strong interest in wool crafts.

Matteo and Gabriela

Matteo and Gabriela came to NZ three years ago.  They are both working as architects in Auckland and looking to follow their dreams of a more natural Lifestyle.  They visit when they can, and have started the design for their cabin.  They are hoping to settle in the village next year.  In the meantime they are working with our new design team and they have the job of managing the generic design for our housing.