Storytelling school

Storytelling project shines a light on rural women

Jane Tylee, one of 10 women featured in the Gather Tararua project, at her farm in Mākuri, east of Pahīatua.

Abby Hoare/supplied

Jane Tylee, one of 10 women featured in the Gather Tararua project, at her farm in Mākuri, east of Pahīatua.

From Eketāhuna to Woodville and places in between, the rural women of Tararua are the subject of a new storytelling project.

Gather Tararua is a series from Shepherdess magazine that empowers rural women to tell their own stories.

Ten women took part in the series, which featured portraits and written stories of their lives in rural New Zealand.

Shepherdess magazine founder Kristy McGregor, who is based in Manakau near Levin, said everyone has a story to tell and she wanted to hear some of those everyday stories in Tararua.

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Shepherdess magazine founder Kristy McGregor says everyone has a story to tell.

DAVID UNWIN/Stuff

Shepherdess magazine founder Kristy McGregor says everyone has a story to tell.

The women participated in writing their stories and choosing where their portrait was taken.

They were nominated for the project by someone in the community.

“It was kind of lovely, because then you could see what their neighbor was saying about what they were doing, or what their daughter was saying.

“It was really very touching, to read other people’s thoughts on these women.”

McGregor was continually in awe of the women and gems that arose as they reflected on their lives.

The project was the second installment in the series, the first project was called Our Voices and focused on the Horowhenua region.

McGregor hoped to continue the project in other districts in New Zealand, although the next region to feature has yet to be selected.

The project was published in the fall edition of Shepherdess magazine.

DAVID UNWIN/Stuff

The project was published in the fall edition of Shepherdess magazine.

One of the women involved, Jane Tylee, moved 23 years ago to a sheep and beef farm in Mākuri, east of Pahīatua, from Scotland.

Tylee said she was surprised to be involved with the project and people wanted to hear her story.

She was Tararua’s coordinator for the East Coast Rural Support Trust, which provided support to farmers going through difficult and stressful times.

The project showcased this work and all the rural women doing awesome things under the radar.

“There are a lot of rural women there who are doing very good things.”

The women told their stories in collaboration with journalist Carly Thomas and were photographed by local photographer Abby Hoare.

Thomas said she enjoys helping people put their words on the page and tell their stories.

“I think everyone can write and tell their own story and sometimes people just need encouragement.”

She was more interested in the connection women had with their place and how it was different and personal to them.

She aimed to let the women tell their story in their own way, and in doing so authentically, she hoped it would connect with others.

The project was published in the autumn edition of Shepherdess and can be purchased at www.shepherdess.co.nz.