Both hailing from Auckland, Lee-Ann and I met in our youth. Lee-Ann was studying Radiography and Michael was half way through his Traditional Bookbinding apprenticeship, sharing a flat with another Radiographer. (That Grafton flat was reminiscent of an episode of The Young Ones.)
Lee-Ann was much wilder in the 1980’s, and Michael rather a timid nervous fellow who was dubbed ‘Dad’ by the radiography girls and whose room was a haven of calm and modest housekeeping.
We stayed friends over the years, both living in London at the same time. Years later back in New Zealand the two of us became flat mates (here Lee-Ann was introduced to her future husband John) and later Lee-Ann became Godmother to Gamel (Michael and Kahren’s daughter).
With a great deal of searching and a romantic yearning for European streetscapes, Michael’s family all shifted to the small Otago town of Oamaru (we’ll get back to that in a future blog post!) Funnily enough, Lee-Ann and John also bought a house in Oamaru (for similar lifestyle reasons and interests), but shifted down with their three children about a decade later.
Eventually the tumultuous year of 2007 came and several marriages went belly-up including both our own. To our surprise we became a romantic couple about a year later (Lee-Ann blames the straight gin for that); having been friends for so long, we had much in common.
With Lee-Ann’s family background in the food business, she took a great deal of interest in Michael’s home brewing hobby, which started happening more and more at Lee-Ann’s place. (Other parents dropping off school children would cast a doubtful eye at the bubbling fermenters taking over her small kitchen.) By this stage, Lee-Ann’s mum “Cuppatea” was living with her, who - out of the blue - offered us enough money to get us into trouble (probably to clear out the kitchen!). And when the second stove blew up, we knew the time had come: we built a commercial home brewery in her stone basement with the help of good friends, bought a wee van and a 50 litre Braumeister (which cost more than the van!) - and Craftwork was born. That was back in 2014…