She’s the founder of all things fermented and fizzy

By Francesca Emms
Photography by Anna Briggs

Featured in Capital #65
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You can also check out Rebecca’s communal home in Aro Valley here.

From her business to her bush home, Rebecca Hardie Boys is living a good life.

For 25 years Rebecca Hardie Boys has been making fresh fermented drinks and delivering them to local cafes. You’ve probably seen her effervescent ginger beers, lemonades, and limes. Rebecca’s pretty sure she’s the only person making perishable fresh drinks on this scale in New Zealand. “Some have tried but have given up because a fresh drink should and will always be limited to the maker’s local district. There is a distinct line in the sand: you decide to either make fresh drinks and have a limited local market, or make nutritionally compromised drinks for a large market.”

Every day Rebecca goes from Wellington to Wainuiomata to work and back again. “The light on the harbour is ever-changing. Early morning a sunrise bounces light off a dead calm sea and floods my van with elusive pastel hues. During the passage of the day as I work, the harbour, hidden from my sight by the Wainui hill, has often changed dramatically by the time I am driving home.” Rebecca needs the van for her deliveries, but her home is walking distance from friends and favourite haunts. “I think this has moulded a lifelong community for me. A sense that all has not been lost to the motor vehicle.”

Rebecca loves her home, surrounded by the bush of AroValley – “the song of the native birds, a fire burning in our hearth, rain on the iron roof” – which she shares with her daughters, partner George, and sometimes also weta, spiders, and flocks of kākā, kererū, and tūī. They don’t have any common pets, as their friendly native insects and birds “do not co-exist easily with introduced pests”.

The family grow their own vegetables and rely on them for most of their food. “So gardening is a little like necessary work, but I still find it deeply calming and therapeutic and it confirms a real link for meabout what food really is.” Rebecca always makes at least one meal a day largely from the veggie garden. “This is my daily wind-down activity, and has the bonus of producing food for the body and soul.I always make a big salad with our meal.” Recently, as part of a documentary about the New Zealand diet, Rebecca was asked to count the number of ingredients she had just picked for the salad – “Twenty-two!”

Rebecca wishes that time would slow down, saying the last decade “went in a flash”. She’s been trying to take Sundays off to have a lie-in and read. And in order to “break the bad habit of too much work” she’s started hiring DVDs from Aro Video. Rebecca’s daughters confirm that their mum is most likely to be seen delivering drinks, wooden crate in arms, dashing across the street. “But hell, it’s better than sitting with a group of people each with their noses buried in their smartphones,” saysRebecca. “I think to work is healthy and keeps one alive and alert to other people.”


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