APPRECIATION: Haydn Read has an appreciation of what comes from the ground, such as wine and trees. Photos Sven Carlsson OS0186-10

HAVING collected wine labels as a child, Ohiwa resident Haydn Read later went on to get a master’s degree that landed him a job with Champagne producer Deutz in the town of Ay, in north-eastern France.

“My degree is in what they now call earth sciences, which includes environmental science, pedology, hydrology, geology and climatology,” Haydn says.

“Some would call me a fluvial geomorphologist,” he says. A quick Google search reveals this to be someone who studies the form and function of streams and the interaction between streams and the landscape around them.

“Unusually at that time, I wrote about what the French would call ‘le terroir’ (of the earth) and the economics of the terroi’ and the grape varietals that suited certain parts of New Zealand and the quality of wine that resulted.”

Fast forward to an unspecified number of years later, when Haydn has also attained an MBA in International Business and Finance from Melbourne, completed his doctorate at Victoria University’s School of Government and spent 20 years working overseas before returning to New Zealand in 2006, and, lately, planted a heck of a lot of trees.

While the property initially consisted of farmland, a more apt description these days would be “slice of heaven” created by Haydn and his wife Kay.

“This is a part of me not many people know about,” he says. “But it’s really who I am.”

Having started the transformation of his 12-acre (4.8 hectare) property during the 2006 to 2007 summer, the Reads have now planted more than 5000 trees, created several lakes and built scores of tracks.

“What we’ve tried to do is plant something for the mokos and the mokos’ mokos,” he says.

“Not only are there hundreds of natives, there are hundreds of exotics, not to mention the thousands of regeneration trees.”

Included among the natives are kauri, kowhai, kaihikatea, rimu, tanekaha, taupata and cyathea, while among the exotics are oaks, liquid ambers, redwoods, ashes, cedars, hackberry, gums, palms, jacarandas and maples.

“It’s as close to what folk would describe as an arboretum,” he says. “In another 10 years it will be a special place.”

Haydn says he is pleased their property is located in the Opotiki district following a historic re-alignment of the boundary between the Whakatane and the Opotiki district councils.

“It was a quirk of political fate that the boundary lines moved,” he says.

With both Haydn and his wife having worked away from the Eastern Bay for many years, Haydn says he is fortunate to be able to work for the Opotiki District Council for a while this summer.

“Being back in Opotiki is a coming home on so many levels,” he says.