How one Kiwi ditched his business suit to produce olive oil

Home & Garden 12/05/2018

Imagine diving head-first into the olive oil industry with little to no experience.

Well, that’s precisely what one Kiwi did.  

Despite working in the corporate world for decades, David Walshaw traded in his business suit for a shot at his own olive oil business.

“I haven’t worn a suit in a long time,” he told Home & Garden’s Tony Murrell with a chuckle.

Now owner of Kapiti Olive Oil with his wife Helen, the former senior banker is living the good life by staying busy and keeping active surrounded by fresh air and olive groves. 

You’ve got to just bite the bullet in the end.

“Back in the day, I remember bankers retiring at 60. And a number of them were dead before 65, and I thought that was a real shame.”

He doesn’t believe in retirement, remarking that “there’s always more that we can do”.

“Being totally active basically until we die to me is utterly important. Life is so short.”

After being made redundant twice in his banking career, Mr Walshaw had simply had enough. He began his own investment company, and after building capital he finally took the plunge by entering the olive oil industry.

“I got to a stage where I really had to have a change,” he said. “And it was now or never.”

David Walshaw and company. Photo: Facebook.

He told RadioLIVE that olives are surprisingly suited for New Zealand’s climate, though “some regions better than others”.

Like most New Zealand oil operations, Kapita Olive Oil is a small business that focuses on producing premium extra virgin olive oil appreciated by boutique vendors and foodies.  

Mr Walshaw has some 2,300 olive trees to his name amongst the Te Horo market garden area on the Kapiti Coast, which has helped earn his oil “Best in Class” two years in a row in addition to a slew of other awards.

In case you can’t hear it in his voice, Mr Walshaw doesn’t regret plunging into the olive oil industry. In fact, he even wrote a book about it.

Olive Oil the New Zealand Way: The joys and challenges of leaving city certainty for the unknown world of olive growing, discusses Mr Walshaw’s big move to a happier, more fulfilling lifestyle as an olive grower.

“You go on thinking about these things,” he told RadioLIVE. “But really, you’ve got to just bite the bullet in the end.”

Listen to the full interview with David Walshaw above. 

Home and Garden with Tony Murrell, 7am - 10am Saturday and Sunday mornings on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.