Atutahi Olives

The Atutahi story

Astronomy,  the Greek classics and a taste for local Martinborough produce all contributed to the creation of Atutahi, our lifestyle property and boutique olive grove, and the development of the award winning Atutahi extra virgin olive oils.

When we (Peter and Ruth Graham) came to Martinborough at the turn of the millenium we were on a quest, looking for somewhere with a dark night sky for observing the stars and land which we could develop as a project after finishing our professional lives in Wellington.

A number of ideas started to resonate with us as we searched and finally it was a heady mix of astronomical lore, heroic mythology and a fortuitous meeting with old aquaintances and Wairarapa olive pioneers Ian and Robin Lockie that became the catalysts for us in the genesis of our new home.

The Lockies introduced us to the seductive charms of growing olive trees and the delicious taste of New Zealand extra virgin olive oil.

Peter came across an interesting article about Canopus, the second brightest star in the night sky, and how it was originally placed in the ancient constellation of Argo Narvis by the Alexandrian astronomer Ptolemy.  We knew that, as legend has it, the ship Argo once transported Jason and his A-star crew of Argonauts to the Black Sea in their quest for the Golden Fleece.  Here in New Zealand the Maori gave Canopus the name Atutahi and knew of it as the navigational star used by their migrating ancestors on their journeys across the Pacific from eastern Polynesia.  We were on a journey too - the resonances were becoming interesting!

Then we discovered that in ancient times a famous  town with the name Canopus had operated on the shores of the Mediterranean near Alexandria.  It was a pleasure spa, renowned for its good life.  Olive trees grew there. 

The resonances were now irresistable.  Olives and astronomy it would be - all we needed was the land.  In early 1999 we found it - a bare paddock just outside Martinborough - and so Atutahi was born.  We immediately started an expansive landscaping project including plantings of olive trees and embarked on a steep but exhilarating learning curve.  In 2003 we finally left Wellington and moved into our newly built house.  There is an internal courtyard where various materials and textures symbolise the constellations and a ship, reflecting the naming of the property.   We have been happily travelling, observing the stars (our observatory was completed in 2010) and producing Atutahi Extra Virgin Olive Oil ever since.