26 Nov 2019

The Joy Project: Jannine Rickards

Jannine Rickards.
From THE JOY PROJECT, 1:08 pm on 26 November 2019

Jannine Rickards (Ngā Puhi, Ngāi Te Rangi), 37, is a winemaker. She lives near Martinborough, Wairarapa where her and her partner frequently go hunting.

Join us this week as a diverse group of New Zealanders share what makes them happy.

"People tell me I’m always smiling, and generally I’m pretty happy. I’m probably a typical Kiwi: I block it in until it bursts, then I let it all out. I’m a winemaker so at this time of year I get a bit stressed because there are so many vital decisions happening. The rest of the year, I’m great. 

I grew up on a sheep and beef farm overlooking the Coromandel peninsula and we always ate really well. When I was about eight I had my first pet sheep for Calf Club Day. One evening a little while after that my dad said we were eating ‘Rosie’ at the dinner table. I couldn’t eat my meal, but he wasn’t going to have a vegetarian daughter, so the next day he had me out there, helping him pack up home kill. Then, when I was about 12, I went hunting with my brother. He shot a goat and I burst into tears. It’s quite funny, looking back on it now. Obviously I hadn’t really thought about the whole process. 

I turned a bit vegan after I left home, because I realised that the meat you bought from the butcher wasn’t very nice and it was a bit unaffordable. I wasn’t prepared to pay for meat that wasn’t good. After that I decided I’d like to learn to hunt. 

The first shoot I went on was on a block in Whanganui for fallow deer. It was quite emotional; I remember feeling sadness and shock at killing something so beautiful. I went on my first pig hunt just before my 30th birthday, with Mick, a guy I’d become friends with in Martinborough. He trained me up and taught me how to deerstalk. Then I went to Burgundy, and tried to go hunting but no one would take me out. I tried to explain to them how we hunt pigs in New Zealand, but they couldn’t comprehend a woman hunting at all. They’re a bit behind in Burgundy. 

Winemaker Jannine Rickards

Winemaker Jannine Rickards Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

If you want to be good at hunting you’ve got to be patient, and you’ve got to be out there doing it all the time. It’s the same with wine-tasting, or fishing. What I like about hunting is being out in the hills and the native bush. When I came back to New Zealand I moved to the South Island and I found Canterbury quite challenging for hunting. There’s all that matagouri, it’s quite a hard and steep environment. I’m a North Island girl, I love being in the native bush, learning about all the native flora and fauna. For me, hunting is about enjoying the quiet. Life is so fast-paced. It’s a mental break, it’s calming, it’s about getting away from everything. 

Mick, the guy who taught me how to hunt, is my partner now and we own a bit of land between Martinborough and Featherston. We did a lot of hunting last year and he sent me out on my own so I could learn deerstalking. It’s hard to stalk when there’s two of you, you can’t be super-quiet. Pig hunting is completely different. The pigs squeal and that’s disturbing. It’s exciting, but deerstalking takes a bit more skill and patience. 

Hunting’s not a joyful process, but it’s satisfying. And, you know, the meat’s quite delicious. Mick’s taught me how to break the animal down, how to gut it and skin it. We do it all ourselves, we don’t just drop it to a butcher. We use everything - I always take the heart and liver and make pate, and the bones go into stock or go to the dogs. When I’ve got the time, I love making charcuterie. 

I’ve always wanted to be self-sufficient and live off the grid as much as possible. We’re planning a permaculture-style set up on our block. I’ve planted some fruit trees and we’ve cleared a whole lot of gorse and blackberry. We want to get a small shed house on it this year and just work away. If I can source my own protein and grow my own vegetables, I’ll be happy.” 

As told to Lucy Corry.

This week RNZ talks to New Zealanders about what makes them happy.

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