Ask Marie Taylor, the managing director of Plant Hawke’s Bay Limited, if being a woman has held any particular challenges in her work, and her answer is unequivocal.
“I am only limited by the way I think about things.”
Last year Marie won the 2021 Hawke’s Bay Primary Sector Laurie Dowling Memorial Award for her contribution to local agriculture.
“Her knowledge and experience are incredibly valued by rural Hawke’s Bay,” said the judges.
Marie was growing plants for her own restoration project at Bay View when she realised there was demand for tough and hardy locally-sourced and grown plants. With a horticultural science degree and work experience for the QEII National Trust behind her, she launched Plant Hawke’s Bay in 2005.
“When you’re building a business you have to work with people who believe in your vision,” she says. And local women in the same field have inspired her. For example Kay Griffiths who jointly runs The Conservation Company in Central Hawke’s Bay.
In 2020 Marie joined forces with Rob and Coral Buddo, and they now run a commercial nursery at Waiohiki growing some 300,000 native plants for next winter – the majority eco-sourced from about 70 naturally occurring indigenous populations.
These range from common flaxes and coprosmas, to the rare Te Mata pimelea and Marie’s personal favourite: kakabeak, which naturally occurs in the wild from Shine Falls near Lake Tūtira up to the East Cape.
But there’s ony 108 kakabeak populations left in the wild. “That’s very worrying and puts it on a par with kakapo in terms of our theatened species.”
Kakabeak, like many of Marie’s plants, need water and that is her constant aspiration: rain. “We have only had 425ml this year and our average in Napier is 800ml.
“I just hope we get enough rain this summer for all the revegetation projects underway across Hawke’s Bay to succeed.”