Our Story

Neudorf Olives is owned and operated by husband and wife team, Jonathan and Susan Pine.

Jonathan grew up in Bristol in the UK. Following a Law degree at Cambridge University he joined the Army and was commissioned into The Royal Tank Regiment. He later spent some time with the Gurkhas in Hong Kong and Nepal before leaving the Army to pursue a career in International Banking.

Susan was born in Fiji but moved to New Zealand when she was 7 years old and grew up in Wellington. She trained as a Nurse and worked in Wellington, Auckland and Dunedin. She then began her OE (Overseas Experience), traveled Europe  and worked in most of London’s major hospitals. Just as she was about to return home she met Jonathan at a party in London.

Jonathan’s banking career led them to spend a number of years overseas; Kenya (where Alexander was born), Abu Dhabi (where Sebastian was born), Cyprus (where Ursula was born) and finally the Isle of Man before heading out to New Zealand.

Whilst they had not specifically thought of producing Olive Oil when moving back to New Zealand, their desire to live in the countryside and make something, combined with their past experiences in the Mediterranean, Levant and North Africa made it an ideal proposition.

Past Experiences with Olives…

Jonathan’s  first experience with Olives and Olive Oil was when he was 17 years old and sent off by his parents to Turkey to teach English to a family. This was the Turkey of ‘Midnight Express’ pre mass tourism. In this exotic land he was presented with foods he had never seen let alone tasted. From this time he came to develop a taste for olives and its oil which has lasted to this day. It also represented the start of a fascination with the countries and culture of the Mediterranean. Susan’s experience with Olives was very similar – travelling to Turkey, Greece, Italy and Spain on her OE, she was likewise captivated by the culture and especially the food.

During the years from their meeting to moving to New Zealand they have lived and travelled widely in countries where the olive and its oil formed an integral part of culinary culture.

Living in Cyprus they had two ancient olive trees in their garden. Their landlords, a wizened old man and woman (classic black dress and white lace for her and ill fitting and holey tweed for him) came each year to harvest the trees. Having laid out a few blankets on the ground they would hit the branches with their walking sticks. They then picked up the olives and took them to the local village press. They returned with old whiskey bottles of cloudy green oil – at the time it tasted great. However, having now experienced and learned to produce the highest quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, they can reflect that the oil, like much of the island’s wine, was rough.

The sense of the importance of the olive tree within Mediterranean cultures was brought home to Jonathan not only in Cyprus but in the Levant. Sitting amongst the Olives of the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem, planted before the birth of Christ, he discussed the hardships of life with a Palestinian who had lost his land in the 1967 war with Israel. Olive groves are still razed as both a symbolical and real means of seeking to transfer people who have been a part of that land for generations.

Travelling through Morocco, Syria and Jordan they both marvelled at the range of olives and their oils in colourful markets. However, whilst they loved the exoticism, the oils which really excited their palette came from the north – Italy, Greece and Spain.

To New Zealand. Just as the wine industry has challenged the primacy of the old world, the New Zealand Olive Oil industry is challenging that former supremacy. Whilst the old world has the history and tradition the new world has the climatic conditions and desire to produce oils which can stand alone in their own right as world class products.

Neudorf Olives, Upper Moutere Nelson