(Photo of teapot pouring tea by Daniel Allen Photographer, Nelson).
Emma Heke is someone who greatly inspires us. In 2015, Emma started Heke Homemade Herbals, a business selling beautiful herbal tea she grows herself on her south-facing urban garden in Nelson. Nowadays, her tea still comes from this property, but has also expanded to include growers all over NZ. Unlike most NZ tea suppliers, 90% of the herbal teas Emma sells are NZ-grown. The tea is also totally organic, the blends are delicious, and to top it off, Heke Homemade Herbals has recently embarked on an impressive pathway to zero waste. We just love it!
Emma’s path to growing and selling tea is not what you might imagine. Her studies were in Fine Arts and she was an Art and Photography teacher for many years at high school. In 2008 she began making documentary films about nature, art and green business, through her company Red Heke Productions, beginning with the highly acclaimed OURS NZ Nature children’s documentary. In September 2011, this endeavour led her and her 7 year old son to take on a 6 month film trip across NZ, documenting the stories of a wide range of kiwis working and living in environmentally sustainable and economically viable ways. This trip resulted in the documentary Our Green Roadie, which is available to watch, for free, on Vimeo (along with Emma’s other films too!).
In this podcast, we talk to Emma about how the experience of Our Green Roadie inspired her to start Heke Homemade Herbals, and to run the business with integrity – producing teas that are delicious, affordable and truly eco. Being environmentally conscious is clearly something that comes naturally to Emma, so we started off our kōrero by asking her where she thinks this comes from…