Danvers Devereaux  - Matakana Botanicals Are you wondering what the newly built, ever-so-stylish black barns on the way out to Leigh are? They’re the new home of Matakana Botanicals (formerly Les Floralies). We caught up with managing director, Danvers Devereaux, to get the lowdown.

Are you from the Matakana Coast?

My mother Colyn started Les Floralies 25 years ago, and about two years after that she bought our beach house in Leigh. It’s been the family sanctuary and creative hub. A lot of our ideas have been born in the ‘ship’ as we call it. Plenty of them started out on wine-stained napkins at one o’clock in the morning. Our Leigh house is also the reason why many of our ingredients are sourced in the region.

How did Matakana Botanicals come to be?

Mum saw potpourri (fragrant wood shavings) while on a business trip to America and realised no one was doing it here. Les Floralies was born - it suited the European luxe image business called for at the time.

We had an old bathtub in the garage where we lived in Remuera and she used to dye and fragrance the shavings there. One day it might be all pink as it was rose pot pourri making time, the next purple for lavender. My sister Charlotte and I were the ‘baggers’, and I was the delivery boy the next day. During winter we’d sometimes have to use the dryer to dry the shavings and my shirts would come out tie-dyed afterward!

Why did you change the name from Les Floralies to Matakana Botanicals?

Not so long ago I was hosting some of our overseas distributors and, as is my usual habit, I brought them up to Matakana to visit the markets and see the region to show them where our inspiration and ingredients come from. They said ‘it’s a great picture, but East Tamaki (where we were then based) doesn’t fit’. I was also asked why we had a European name when we were so ‘Kiwi’. The penny dropped. I re-branded the business as Matakana Botanicals and we relocated here.

I bought the property four years ago and it was a mess. Old abandoned cars and other detritus littered the land. The house hadn’t been lived in for six years and was infested with rats. It’s certainly been a labour of love creating our new base.

What inspires Matakana Botanicals?

I’ve been immersed in this area for a long time so everything has evolved in an organic way. Over the years I’ve come to know many local growers who supply our hero ingredients.

We were the first to plant olive trees in the area. Our honey comes from Great Barrier Island, with macadamia and manuka oil being produced locally. On our property we grow a special variety of lavender, which is steam-distilled. The oil is utilised in our unique ‘sleep sniff boxes’. These are proudly supplied to first-class passengers on Emirates flights.

Sustainability is part of our ethos. A lot of what we’ve created is eco-friendly. We have solar power, which saves us about 83 per cent in power, and the barns were built by Custom Kit using regenerated pine. We have a septic tank system called Biolytix, which uses tiger worms to convert waste into garden water; we harvest rainwater and we plant bee-friendly plants. It’s fantastic!

Where do you see your future?

We’re opening a unique café and store in spring 2016. We have lots more potential to grow our own fragrant ingredients, and we’ll be operating a botanical steam distillery. Watch this space...

What do you love most about where we live?

I have a personal interest and background in horticulture, so I love our connection to this hugely fertile region, as well as to our growers and beekeepers. It provides a wonderful canvas in which to create and present our products to a global market. It’s a constant source of inspiration. For example, our new Coast & Country range and its fragrances are always in mind as I move around the area.

Mandarin & Verbena: inspired by the many citrus orchards around Point Wells.

Rose & Peony: the gorgeous bay of Whangateau, which is well known for growing unique red ‘Whangateau Red Roses’.

Lime & Grapefruit: just past Ascension Vineyard you will see an old brick chimney in an orchard which happens to grow the amazing limes we buy.

Cocoa & Vanilla: inspired by the local farmers market and the early morning aromas of fresh coffee and sweet crêpes floating through the air.

Matakana Botanicals Phone: 09 422 9216