Bowhunting Redmans target tourists
By SUE THOMAS
Staff Reporter, Hastings
Sherwood Forest is thousands of miles away but Hawke’s Bay has its own Robin Hood who uses his bow and arrow in the thick of our rural countryside.
John Redman has set his sights on establishing New Zealand’s only bowhunting centre 50 kilometres west of Hastings.
It’s the realisation of a dream for John Redman and his wife Jean, an English couple with a background of security work in London.
They have left behind a highly successful business in London – to live a new life on a 205-hectare farm – their own Sherwood Forest.
“We literally live on top of the world . . . we wouldn’t be anywhere else,” say the couple who share their homestead with Henry the master stag and his 21 girlfriends next door, horses Speed and Holiday Pay, dogs Las, Jill and Kit and sheep and cattle which graze on their property.
Being at peace with themselves in the tranquil countryside, listening to bees humming and magpies calling is a far cry from dashing to catch the rube on the overcrowded London Underground.
The Redmans wouldn’t have it any other way.
A holiday in Hawke’s Bay in 1988 introduced the Redmans to rural New Zealand – an environment they describe as captivating.
“Having lived in London all my life, I couldn’t wait to escape the busy lifestyle. When I cam for a working here (she worked as a head waitress at the Masonic Hotel, Napier) I just didn’t want to leave,” said Jean.
“In fact I loved Hawke’s Bay so much I even considered becoming an overstayer but knew if I had, I wouldn’t ever be able to return to New Zealand.”
Returning home to say goodbye to family and friends indefinitely was a difficult decision, but now Jean, like her husband, is thriving on the new rural lifestyle.
John says he fell in love with Hawke’s Bay the moment he arrived.
“When I saw the Glenross Rd homestead, I knew it was what I had been waiting for all my life.”
The lavish Hawke’s Bay countryside proved a welcome break from the couple’s work with Redman Associates – a security firm based in Kent which provides protection for people and assets.
An electronic counter-surveillance service has been operated since 1977.
The Redmans established the firm in 1983 and still have interests in it – he as chairman and she as a director.
It seemed appropriate for John, who was in the British Army for 22 years, to become a counter-revolutionary warfare specialist dealing with kidnapping and hostage cases in the Special Air Services. (SAS)
The couple, who are top New Zealand and English longbow archers, also saw potential in the 205 hectares on Glenross Rd as archery ranges for budding Kiwi archers and overseas visitors.
They’ve called their venture Brasstacs which stands for bow-hunting, rafting, angling, skiing, sailing, tramping, archery, cameras, safaris – all of which the Redmans offer either on or near their property.
John,who held four English Country longbow titles before coming to New Zealand, is this country’s top longbow shooter. His wife Jean holds six English Country titles. This year she also won a silver and bronze medal at the New Zealand Archery association National Championships and she earned first place in the women’s longbow at the New Zealand Bow Hunters safari.
John says he has his wife to thank for getting involved in archery – a sport he had never thought much about until Jean decided to attend a beginner’s class in Kent.
“I initially went along to keep her company until she got to know everyone,” he said.
“Archery is the type of sport you either love or hate. Both Jean and I were hooked.”
A room of their homestead is devoted to psychedelic orange and pink arrows and bows ranging from the traditional English low bow (as used in medieval days) to the latest high-tech compound bow, which uses a wheel and pulley system to have the weight of the bow enabling the archer to hold the bow on his target longer.
Among John’s favourites is a 1.3-metre Comanche bow – a replica of an 1880 Comanche Indian bow and a traditional English long-bow crafted by Britain’s number one longbow maker, Mr Ron Taylor.
When you become competent you can spend a weekend hunting any game – deer, turkey, pigs,rabbits, possums – on the property.
It’s a privilege that will cost you $240 a day, including meals, and accommodation.
If you are lucky enough to shoot a deer with you bow and arrow Jean will cook some of it for your dinner.
John says Americans thrive on such a hunting ground. He says he could easily charge $US8000 for an American keen to take home as a trophy the 15-pointer stag he shot.
“It’s also every American’s dream to shoot turkeys . . ..”
Dan, the US hunter
Bowhunters who visit the homestead will have trekked the same ground as some of the world’s leading hunters including American hunting expert, author and Daniel Boon-like character, Mr Dan Quilliam.
“In America Dan is the bow-hunter, the snake expert. He holds a world record for shooting a 2.1-metre high black bear, shot at from 2.1 metres.
“We’ll be letting Dan loose on the property and hoping he can take home some trophies. We’ll also be taking him hunting in other parts of New Zealand hoping he’ll shoot a collection to take home.”
The bowhunting centre has attracted interest from all around the globe. The Redmans have received inquiries from bowhunting manufacturers and retailers in the United States, Australia and Alaska.
The Redmans share their archery knowledge with school children in the district when they give talks about the sport.
An off-shoot of the bowhunting centre has been the establishing of a homestead holiday venture. In mid-January the couple opened their home to Kiwis and tourists who wished to spend a weekend or holiday relaxing in the tranquil surrounds of “Tiroroa” (which means long look (view) in Maori).
Stay with family
“We’re inviting people to be a part of our family, to share our beautiful views, the countryside or just enjoy the peace and quiet”.
The Redmans will take the guests by six-wheeler bike or four wheel drive through their property to see red deer, mountain hares, and wild turkeys.
Visitors can climb up”Nellies” the highest point on the property from which they can see Kaweka State Forest, the Ruahine State Forest Park, the coastal plains and Cape Kidnappers.
“Basically I look after visitors wanting to hunt on the homestead while Jean looks after non-hunters taking them into Hastings shopping or sightseeing at nearby places of their choice.”
Accommodation is available in two bedrooms – a large family room sleeping four people and a smaller room which sleeps two. Separate toilet and shower facilities are available.
The home-cooked meals include traditional Kiwi fare such as roast beef, lamb, potatoes, vegetables and salads.
“We are not a hotel . . . we are simply opening our own home to holidaymakers,” says the hospitable couple.
“The place needs $14,000 worth of painting on the outside but we hope to get around to that once we start making some money,” says the couple who have redecorated the interior.
Soaking up the Hawke’s Bay countryside at Tiroroa homestead will cost you $100 a day, which includes accommodation, meals and activities of your choice. The couple will also collect and return visitors to the airport, or take them shopping in the district or sightseeing throughout Hawke’s Bay.
Organised group bookings are available – 10 per cent a person a day for group bookings of four to six, or 20 per cent discount a person a day for groups of four to six staying five days or more.
Children aged five to 12 years are charged 50 percent of the rates and children under five are welcome free.
Photo captions –
Hawke’s Bay bowhunter John Redman expects hunters to be shooting deer this size from his own Sherwood Forest in five years time. In the background is John’s six-wheeler bike which he uses to transport sightseers around his property.
Some of the Hawke’s Bay countryside that the3 Redmans feel in love with and, they hope, tourists will too.