Kane and Gail Matthews started Pioneer Orchids in 2001 as a small cymbidium orchid growing enterprise. The business is now four times the size and is highly regarded for its range of orchid varieties developed in New Zealand and sourced from Australia. Gail spoke with AFI magazine about the challenges of developing a new business in a new country.
I left Zimbabwe with my husband Kane and our two small boys in November of 2000. It was a year well remembered for tough decisions, close encounters with Mugabe’s war veterans, harassment and change. We had to leave farming in the country we loved and grew up in and go through the process of applying to immigrate to a new country, New Zealand. It is a year that always reminds us to treasure what we have here and now, since everything can be taken away in a moment. We regard ourselves as fortunate that we were able to leave Zimbabwe and start afresh when others are left in a country where corruption and a gun is king, and the vulnerable and poor are used as pawns in a bigger picture of power and greed.

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