One sunny Saturday in October 1993 a small group of like-minded folk met at the Keri Keri home of Pam and Miles Cook to get to know each other and to share the experience and knowledge they had gained in olive cultivation.
As well as the hosts, the group included, among others, Maxi and Ian Thompson, Genevieve and Chris Noser, Julia Sutherland and Colin Bennett who all agreed, over glasses of sangria, that an informal group "with no strings attached" should be formed and should meet at least once a year. What also evolved at that gathering - and something that is still very much part of the "Oliveti" philosophy - was the concept that there would be the open exchange of information and assistance to each other while at the same time enjoying the olive culture.


The following April, Whangarei Community Education held a one-day course on olives and olive care with emphasis on the pickling of olives. This was well attended and it was decided then that we should meet again.
This next meeting was held at Pataua South where 60 people gathered and it agreed that there was a need for regular meetings and for a newsletter to keep everyone in touch.
To cover the cost of stationery and postage, everyone contributed $10 to a kitty on the understanding that when the funds ran out, the request would go out for another $10.
As the interest in olives continued to grow, membership increased and it was never necessary to call for further funds.
The invitation for this inaugural event was headed up 'Olivetis' and this was the title for the first newsletter.


The next gathering was at the Nosers' property, Whananaki North, in April 1995 and 150 people came.
It was at this meeting that the question of the future of the group was discussed and, while a show of hands indicated that most wanted to retain the historical informality, it was recognised that a more formal structure may be required in the future.
The options for that structure were put to a meeting held in November 1995 at Northland Polytechnic and it was then that a steering committee was established to provide guidelines for the future of the Northland olive group.


The steering committee reported to a meeting at Pataua South in March 1996 and it was unanimously decided that 'Olivetis' should be reshaped into a more formal structure to retain and protect its identity and to facilitate networking with other groups wishing to share knowledge and experience.


A draft constitution was adopted and the name of the organisation corrected - not 'Olivetis', but 'Oliveti' : Italian for 'olive groves' - so the next newsletter had the correct title!
The structural change for the group saw it become 'Oliveti Northland Incorporated' in July 2001 and, in another milestone, it became a Regional Member of the New Zealand Olive Association in March 2002.


Oliveti has continued to hold regular meetings, co-ordinate field days and publish the newsletter; the success of these initiatives can be judged by the fact that membership has continued to grow.


Footnote: In the first paragraph of the notes above, eight people are identified as founders of Oliveti. Those are the only names the author can remember but certainly there were about twice that number of people present that day. If anyone reading this was also there - or knows others who were - please let Oliveti know as we are keen to identify all of the Oliveti founders.