When you get chatting to Royce and Sue McKean of TIKI Wines, there’s a distinct theme that quickly becomes apparent: passion. The couple have it in bundles and have always been committed to following theirs. Their passion has seen them carve out an adventurous life filled with exciting challenges, which is what led them to launching TIKI Wines in the early 2000s.
Knowing very little about planting grapes, managing a vineyard or making wine didn’t stop the pair buying an old Waipara sheep farm and getting to work planting. Their first year taught them much, but nearly 20 years down the line they’ve perfected every aspect of the process and are turning out no less than eight varieties of wine from their vineyards, under three brands: TIKI, Maui and Waiata.
It was the land, its history and its potential for adventure that brought the couple to North Canterbury after years living and travelling in Europe. And it’s the land, and the guardianship thereof, that drives their focus on sustainability today.
“It is an important part of our philosophy to be environmentally responsible and to operate using sustainable practices,” explains Sue. “We believe we have a responsibility to ensure that our natural resources are protected for future generations.”
Alongside sustainability, Royce’s Māori culture is a key tenet of the business. Royce’s whanau has lived and farmed in Aotearoa for hundreds of years. The TIKI name was inspired by Royce’s great-great-great grandfather, Tikitere Mihi – a Ngatiuenuku chief. Tiki also refers to the hand-carved Maori pendant or treasure which is said to bestow good fortune and love on others: something Sue and Royce aspire to do with their wine.
TIKI is a founding member of TUKU, the world’s first Māori winemakers collective and, as an indigenous NZ Māori wine producer, TIKI is committed to caring for their vines under the guiding Māori principles of Kaitiakitanga: guardianship, protection and preservation of the earth.
The passion that started this venture many years ago is as strong as ever and has been rewarded with a growing wine portfolio, a strong customer base and numerous medals and accolades from a number of high profile wine competitions.
Why North Canterbury? Whānau and friends, artisan producers making exceptional wines and gourmet foods sustainably, throw in the laid back people and lifestyle with skiing and surfing at your doorstep makes it very unique.
What is your favourite thing to do in North Canterbury? Day skiing with whānau and friends and sharing beautiful wine and food.
Name your top three North Canterbury brands (other than your own, of course!): Pegasus Bay, Greystone, Pyramid Valley